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SIAM is more than end-to-end process management!

In our latest blog, SIAM Professional Lead Architect and Scopism eConsultant Michelle Major-Goldsmith looks at some common misconceptions about SIAM, and how in fact it is much more than Michelle Major-Goldsmith headshotjust process management.

“I’ve been trying to hone my SIAM ‘elevator pitch’.  The reason for this is that I still have conversations with people, who ask about SIAM and are under the impression it is simply end-to-end process management.  Now, I would like to clear this up.  Whilst one of the goals of service integration is for the customer to see joined up working practices, the role of the integrator in a SIAM environment brings far more to the table than ‘simply’ managing service management process activities.”

Back to SIAM Basics

Let’s go back to first principles.  The term ‘service integration and management’ or SIAM, and the concept of SIAM as a management methodology, originated around 2005 from within the UK public sector.  Interest in SIAM became ‘global’ when in 2015 AXELOS published several white papers on SIAM, and in 2016 the SIAM Foundation Architect Group was formed by Scopism.  The objective was to bring practitioners of SIAM together and create a consolidated view of their knowledge and experience.  The success of the SIAM Foundation Body of Knowledge, was followed by the subsequent release of the SIAM Professional Body of Knowledge, providing further insight and guidance in the application of SIAM practices

SIAM has a different level of focus to traditional multi-sourced ecosystems with one customer and multiple suppliers.  It is useful for many organizations given that most are sourcing services from more than one provider; this includes internal and external service providers and even from an enterprise service management point of view potential non-IT providers too.

I like to describe SIAM as bringing governance, management, integration, assurance and coordination, to the customer organization with the intention that they get maximum value from their service providers.  It supports cross-functional, cross-process and cross-provider integration.  It creates an environment where all parties know their role, responsibilities and are empowered and held accountable for the outcomes they are required to deliver.  This is one important benefit of SIAM; it can reduce the complexity of the management of the environment, so the customer can focus on their core business.

People often talk to me about ‘the SIAM’ as if it is a thing.  SIAM is an approach, the ‘thing’ if we want to call it that, is ‘the service integrator function’.  This is a single, logical entity which combines the outputs of the various service providers and is accountable for the end-to-end delivery of service. There are many ways the integrator function can be applied, there is certainly no one correct way of ‘doing’ SIAM.  Most organisations already work with one or more service providers, and each organisation has different objectives, priorities and resources.

So, What are the Benefits of SIAM?

SIAMWell in addition to the assumed process management there is much, much more.  The benefits will of course depend on the specific issues or drivers to move to SIAM for an organization.
Service providers play a crucial role in helping a customer organization deliver its business outcomes.  Poorly delivered services directly affect the customer’s outcomes, and the service it can offer to its own customers.  Of course, this is true whether the services are delivered by one service provider or multiple service providers.  However, the challenges of successful delivery are greater when there are multiple service providers, owing to increases in complexity and the interactions that need to take place between service providers.

There are generic drivers for SIAM that can be tailored for each organization:

1. Service satisfaction:  By this I mean situations where customers have issues associated with service complexity.  I am referring to issues such as complexity and confusion over roles and responsibilities, delivery silos and lack of collaboration between service providers.
2. Service and sourcing landscape:  This can be evidenced in common issues such as Shadow IT and inflexible contracts that don’t align with contracts of other providers in the service mix.
3. Operational efficiencies:  Think about issues over data and information flows between providers and lack of tool integration often resulting in the ‘swivel chair’ situation for the service desk staff who way may be managing interactions between users and service providers causing the need to re-enter the data and information by the receiving party.
4. External drivers:  These are drivers that are imposed from outside the organisation.  Typically, these are corporate governance which demands clarity over the responsibilities of service providers and the controls that are applied to them and the external policy.  For some organisations, the use of SIAM is mandated under a policy created outside the customer organisation.

It is usually a combination of these drivers that provides the impetus for a move to a SIAM model.

Process Management and What?

Let’s look at process management for a moment though.  Process management still matters, however, within a SIAM model, process execution is likely to involve multiple stakeholders.  Despite this, it is not necessary for all service providers to use the same process documents or tools. To preserve the economic specialism and expertise of individual service providers, the service integrator is tasked to provide the appropriate inputs and define the expected outputs and outcomes. Each service provider might carry out individual steps in a different way, but as part of an overall integrated process model with defined interactions, rules, and controls. Above and beyond process management, which is what many consider when they hear the term SIAM, there are other benefits that are likely to be relevant to most organisations.

A green tickThe first is improved service quality.  There are lots of improvements here but think about benefits such as a shift in focus from satisfying contractual targets to focus on innovation and satisfying business need, and more consistent achievement of service levels.  SIAM can provide an alternative contract structure. A ‘head agreement’ that defines the overall contractual relationship between the service integrator and the customer organisation (sometimes referred to as a Master Services Agreement or MSA) with the provider contracts tied back to and supporting this.
The second is cost optimization.  The service integrator layer can add additional cost to an organisation, however, the increased value associated with it and the potential for cost optimisation in the service provider layer, should balance out or exceed any overall cost increases.  If SIAM is correctly designed and implemented, it will provide better service value, with both tangible and intangible benefits such as innovation from competitive tension between service providers, identification and removal of duplication of resources and activities and even contract optimisation and the potential for shorter term, more effective contracts.
Another benefit is improved governance and control.  SIAM provides an opportunity to apply consistent governance and control over all service providers.  This can help establish a single point of ownership, visibility, and control of services and improved management of service provider performance amongst other things. One other very important element here is the use of SIAM specific functions we refer to as structural elements.  These take the form of Boards (that operate at a strategic, tactical and operational level), forums and working groups. Each provides an opportunity to get providers working together on managing end to end delivery, identifying improvements and innovation opportunities and building a more cohesive environment intent on supporting the customer organisation not just their individual contracts.
Finally, if correctly designed and implemented, SIAM can provide the flexibility that is necessary to support changing business requirements.  This comes about from the ability to replace poorly performing or uneconomic service providers using the concept of loose coupling.  This provides the ability to rapidly accommodate the inevitable changes to services, technologies, and business requirements and opens opportunities to on and off board providers as required. This requires effective planning and strategy as well as a focus on enterprise architecture too.

SIAM Offers More…

SIAM is unique in offering a structure, culture, principles and practices for managing a multi-service provider environment.  The need to build an agile ecosystem of multiple service providers and utilise best-of-breed, collaboration, and coordination is an imperative for many customers.  SIAM helps to build focus on ‘one team’ culture despite providers being from separate organisations. Therefore, I am keen for individuals to look past process management and consider the benefits moving to a SIAM model can bring. We are all continually seeking to optimise operations and interact more efficiently.  SIAM will provide an organisational structure to integrate service delivery not just processes from different providers and provide a flexible and valuable outcome for the business.  It will allow the customer to focus on its core business rather than having to be concerned with the complexities and challenges of a complex IT souring model and concerns of the value associated with their contracts. SIAM has evolved in response to business problems, it goes above process management.  If you haven’t already done it, I recommend that you download the SIAM Bodies of Knowledge from Scopism to see what I mean.  They are jam-packed full of advice about what real SIAM is and how to apply it.

SIAM is designed to provide support in complex multi-provider models.  Service and supplier landscapes that many service management functions were set up to manage are now subject to significant change.  This necessitates a shift in the way that these services and their suppliers are managed. The SIAM BoK’s can help not only to start a conversation with an organisation about why SIAM might be a good operating model but it also provides a step by step roadmap led approach to creating a solution that goes way beyond just looking after your service management processes.