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SIAM – What’s all the fuss about?

SIAM helps to manage multi-supplier environments

Service Integration and management (SIAM), like ITIL® before it, appears to have originated from HM Government (UK). References to SIAM began to emerge in the UK in the late 2000’s purported to provide a framework to obtain better value for money from multi-supplier service engagements. Lately its adoption has increased globally due to the increasingly complex, modular managed IT service environment evident in most enterprises.

In a multi-sourced service delivery models, the key to success is the ability to manage the challenge of cross-functional, cross-process, cross-provider integration. SIAM enables an organization to derive the benefits of innovation and flexibility that multi-outsourcing brings whilst still presenting an integrated service wrap for the customer.

It is incumbent upon SIAM to create a delivery structure that supports process inputs and outputs, lays down governance, standards and controls but does not stifle the individual procedural activities that will be proprietary to each provider in the model. ITIL has long advocated the importance of focusing on the value delivered to the customer. SIAM provides an opportunity to re-focus on and re-interpret those ITIL core principles to facilitate the achievement of customer outcomes

Key aspects

The most notable aspects of SIAM are:

  • SIAM is fundamentally an adaptation of ITIL’s integrated service management framework.
  • SIAM is Service Integration, not Systems Integration.
  • SIAM defines the need for strong governance
  • SIAM is an alignment of end to end accountability, authority and responsibility
  • SIAM is all about collaboration, empowerment, and coordination. It is NOT about bureaucracy SIAM advocates the mapping of process inputs and outputs across provider boundaries.
  • SIAM focuses on service performance, usability and availability from a user perspective, not just from a supplier’s commercial perspective.

SIAM is both framework and a function. Typically built upon the full ITIL lifecycle model SIAM includes additional focus on ‘end to end’ service governance and controls across all suppliers. As a function it is accountable for ensuring alignment to the Service Management standards, Information Security controls and Governance frameworks across all modules. SIAM supports the need for a strong relationship between IT and the rest of the business. Within that it explains how the necessary linkages between the service consumers, infrastructure providers, application and cloud providers needs to be planned. It also provides an organizational structure of necessary function such as service management, and continual service improvement. The definition of the Service Desk as a separate module is also imperative. In fact, the Service Desk is a special service module, one that is a hybrid: part service delivery and part SIAM function.

Why is it important?

The rationale for SIAM is to provide assurance that the IT and business strategies, in relation to challenges in multi-supplier environments, align. The role and responsibility the customer takes is critical here. There is no question that IT leadership can contribute intelligence about technology trends, open market services, opportunities and challenges, but the IT strategy must represent the business or customer and ultimately needs to be formulated to ensure seamless integration and alignment across an organisation’s enterprise and service assets.

Strategic Partnership

IT must be seen as a strategic partner within the business, looking for and delivering the best solution for the customer, rather than focusing on the technology solution IT wants to deliver. This is where the IT Steering Group (ISG) or IT Governance Board (IGB), defined in ITIL, is imperative. To be successful with SIAM, this group must have a defined strategy for IT services. Within that strategy it must define the models to be used when designating IT service layers and processes.

This is service orchestration and these models are typically designed to be extensible so that new processes and functions can easily be added, extended or discontinued. Without such a framework in place, the concepts of SIAM are difficult to achieve, as the overall measurement and coordination activities that provide the SIAM benefits have not been defined.

Integrated Service Management vs SIAM

Organisations trying to implement SIAM need to understand the distinction between integrated service management and SIAM. For example, implementing a set of processes within a centralised management team is insufficient to implement the SIAM function. Failing to add the extra elements of SIAM such as governance, autonomy and the impartiality to manage the suppliers creates SIAM functions that rarely move away from operational delivery.

There are typically three layers of SIAM governance which roughly equate to strategic-tactical-and-operational levels or the Approve-Manage-Do workflow:

  • Plan (& Approve) – Exercised by the ISG/IGB as the advisors and decision makers, typically holding the final say with regards to funding approval, contractual and commercial agreements and Business/IT strategy alignment
  • Manage – Exercised through groups or committees with the power to endorse or approve based on defined delegated authorities or process policies/business rules
  • Do – Peer-to-peer working groups, fulfilled by the provider teams and typically aligned at the process level, designed to recommend approaches or innovations. These groups may have some delegated authority at the process layer but typically this is minimal.

What stays with the customer?

Within the SIAM model, there needs to be a discussion on what the customer wishes to retain and what they are happy to outsource to a SIAM provider. Taking the management of change as an example which might occur at the whole group level: i.e. the customer may elect to retain complete ownership of the integrated Change Advisory Board (iCAB), or they may elect for a provider to co-ordinate the iCAB meeting where the customer retains the change manager role, or may elect to outsource the responsibility entirely (though not the accountability).

A range of models is available in which the customer can choose to devolve to SIAM. This would very much be specific to the customers’ unique industry, maturity and capability. It would depend on how much control the customer wishes to retain or divest. An effective SIAM function can be flexible in design, there is not a single proposed model although customer retained governance is required.

Against a backdrop of increased business and IT complexity, where the challenge is to deliver more with less, SIAM will unquestionably enable organisations to take advantage of the flexibility and innovation of multi-sourcing. SIAM uses the tried-and-tested best practice ITIL processes and concepts and creates a functional layer of accountability, governance, monitoring and control across all suppliers.

An effective SIAM solution enables the necessarily robust operational contract obligation management, vendor management and operational interface controls required to successfully operate the multiple provider landscape without hampering the economic specialism, innovation and tools that form the differentiation of the providers within the value chain.

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