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Homemade SIAM: a perspective on the ‘Greenfield’ approach

Our latest guest blog about SIAM comes from Biju Pillai.  Biju has more than 19 years of experience in IT Biju PillaiInfrastructure Management, Service Management and Service Integration. He works as a Director in Capgemini’ s Service Integration practice and based out of Chennai, India. He can be reached on bijupillai2015@gmail.com or on +91 9884960520

All the views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not reflect the formal policy or position of any organization.

Getting started with SIAM

Service Integration and Management (SIAM) in its simplest form is a function or capability intended to manage distinctly contracted IT services in a comprehensive and consistent manner. The value of SIAM rests in its ability to integrate several moving parts in the IT ecosystem encompassing processes, suppliers, technology, service targets, cost, contractual elements, information management, and risks in the backdrop of a panoramic view of (end to end) customer experience. The credibility of SIAM lies in the transparency it brings to the service performance and cost of service across the organization.

SIAM structures

There are several choices available for organizations to design and operate the service integrator function in their SIAM model. The most discussed and popular ones are:

1. Homemade SIAM: build the capability internally, referred to an ‘internally sourced service integrator’
– By developing everything from the scratch or with consultative support from a specialist SIAM player.

2. Request the chief supplier from the existing supplier estate to take the role of service integrator, referred to as ‘lead supplier service integrator’
– This prime supplier may have their vested interests hence the element of credibility and transparency may be myopic.

3. Introduce an independent specialist SIAM provider who does not have any stakes in any of the service providers, referred to as an ‘externally sourced service integrator’
– Preferred option by many but considered as costly. For the best results, the existing contract and commercial framework with other suppliers may need to be reengineered.

4. A cocktail of internal and external capabilities, intellectual properties and talent. But monitored and controlled by internal power centers, referred to as a ‘hybrid service integrator’
– Augmenting external capabilities can be tricky as it may turn in to a costly engagement in long term. Prone to failure if there is no sense of ownership by the external resources. Difficult to control retention of talent and intellectual properties particularly of the external resources.

This blog describes how to overlay a practical strategy if the decision is to go with option number 1, i.e. building the capability internally.

Building a SIAM capability internally

Pulling the trigger to launch an internal service integrator function is not something to be considered as an easy job. Many organizations initiate this just as any other IT project, without considering that successful SIAM initiatives require phenomenal effort on organizational change management in the way of embracing a brand new working culture, leadership style, a new breed of skill set, different perspective of collaboration and trust with in the ecosystem (between business, IT services and IT service providers).

Navigating through these challenges during the design stage and later on business as usual (BAU) operations is greatly reliant on the knowledge and experience of the resources that are staffing the service integrator function. The combination of IT skills and a deep understanding of processes and relationship management are critical to achieve the goals. Expertise with the structure of outsourcing contracts and legalities, ability to understand supply-chain dependencies and more imperatively impeccable internal branding and selling skills will strongly impact the end results. The service integrator function should be immune to organizational ‘cross-fire’. It also needs to position itself as an autonomous body whose interest is to showcase realities rather than acting as an advertising agency of the IT function.

Naturally, many organizations try to move parts of their IT layer into the SIAM initiative with the intention to drive and operate the program. In my opinion, this is not the best approach based on the reasons mentioned above. To get the best out of a SIAM program and for sustainable long term benefits, organisations need to be innovative and demonstrate entrepreneurial spirit rather than adding one more heavyweight initiative in to their IT program portfolio. Certainly this will be a step change from the traditional ways of managing internal IT initiatives. However, during the times of brutally competitive market and value network, being disruptive in every way possible is the need of the hour.

The very first realization must be to stop viewing SIAM as an appendix or satellite of the IT department. This is about building a stand-alone capability with powerful inward branding and digital culture within the organization. The initiative will have to standardize and streamline many things while setting the right expectations across the board. The SIAM initiative should not be constrained with the baggage imposed by similar activities in the past.

Using a Greenfield approach

Experts working in areas of innovation and digital disruption have coined a term called the ‘Greenfield’ way of doing things. According to them, when improving or simplifying something proves too difficult or lengthy, or when a new (digital) culture is required, organizations must go for a Greenfield option. This is about building a new and simplified element ‘on the banks’ of the core business—often branded differently.

The Greenfield option is lucrative as organizations can start with a ‘blank slate’ which provides them much needed ‘shoulder space’ for those initiatives which otherwise would have been considered as ‘wild imagination’. The concept of Greenfield perhaps originated in the construction industry to indicate lands that has never been developed, as opposed to brownfield, where construction will happen in and around of an existing infrastructure either by demolishing or modifying.

The other impressive aspect of Greenfield is that there is not too much pressure to create incremental benefits all along the journey. Instead, a Greenfield approach is free to reinvent the core processes that were in place. Not being encumbered by structures and legacy drives up the opportunities to do things innovatively and boost the confidence level of the people involved in building the service integrator function.

This is very crucial as SIAM programs require heavy doses of new talent and competency often newly hired from the market. It also requires strong and bold leadership to protect the SIAM objectives from the ‘antibodies’ of the existing IT way of working. These ‘antibodies’ otherwise will be resistive to change and spring in to action to work against the new model if the SIAM program is within their sphere of influence. Adopting the Greenfield approach brings in a natural layer of immunity and at the mean time evades being pulled in to organizational conflicts due to the fluid and emerging business relationship element in the model.

In older and mature organizations, the risk of ‘entrenchments’ are high. These are camouflaged elements of organizational culture, politics and strategy directives which if not taken care adequately and early may lead to massive ramifications to any new initiative. By its intrinsic unbiased nature, Greenfield approach can always stay alive by not annoying these snakes in the grass.

Discussing the finer aspects of building a SIAM function using this approach is not in the purview of this paper. The motive is to highlight the organizational design elements involved in the SIAM programs and the need for a strong underpinning with clear philosophy and strategy.

The decision to launch an internal SIAM program is transformational for any organization and its people. This journey will be tough, risky and expensive. It can make or break people’s careers and existence of IT functions. Embracing Greenfield principles in SIAM modeling can serve as a catalyst to reinvent the way you deliver results end to end, that is, around people, process and technology.

To succeed, it is crucial that executive leadership and think tanks turn their ambitions and strategy towards using the full array of execution models available to deal with the constraining forces and magnitude of this digital era. Greenfield approach in that context is certainly something which can be contingent to successfully develop SIAM models and deliver intended results. However there is a need for more analysis, study and development of best practices addressing this piece of thought.