10 Tips for Using SIAM to Deliver Better IT Services and Support

SIAM Integration
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Service integration and management (SIAM) is an approach for managing multiple suppliers of business and IT services, seamlessly integrating them to provide a single business-facing IT organization and “end-to-end services” that meet business requirements. You can read this SIAM blog for a quick SIAM swot-up if needed.

If you’re considering SIAM within your organization, here’s 10 SIAM tips that I hope you’ll find helpful.

Tip 1: Understand the Key Drivers for Service Integration

Multi-sourcing enables IT organizations to pick and choose from a variety of available sourcing options rather than totally insourcing or outsourcing IT. Think of it as a hybrid operating model that allows organizations to better balance cost reductions, service quality improvements, and innovation gains.

Tip 2: Appreciate the Various Sourcing Types

There are many different types of sourcing types, including:

  • Insourcing – where work is done by a person or team within the internal organization
  • Staff augmentation – a temporary role in an organization to fulfill a gap in resources
  • Out-tasking – a set of tasks are performed by an external party
  • Outsourcing – one company contracts out a part of its internal activity to another company
  • Subcontracting – capabilities of a service provider are supplemented by those of another
  • Divestiture – a former business unit is sold to an external partner who will then likely sell them (well, their services) back in

These terms will be useful when conversing on SIAM.

Tip 3: Realize that SIAM is About People and Skills

The success of any new SIAM model is heavily dependent on the knowledge and experience of the people involved. Some will be existing staff, some will be newly-acquired staff, and many will be the staff of service providers.

Key internal-people skills for SIAM include:

  • Business relationship management
  • Communication skills
  • Commercial acumen
  • Influencing skills
  • Negotiation and conflict resolution skills
  • The ability to manage interpersonal relationships

While these skills might look like IT service management (ITSM) skills, there’s also a requirement for expertise on outsourcing contracts together with a solid foundation in procurement and supply-chain processes.

Tip 4: Set Your SIAM Scope Well

SIAM presents a single, cohesive view of IT to the rest of the organization and like a swan serenely swimming, it should hide the potentially frantic legwork underneath the water. However, being out of sight doesn’t mean that operations don’t need to be tightly managed and governed.

Importantly, don’t allow your SIAM scope to creep. Set process scope to define the boundaries with other processes. Identify both the client and supplier process owners, and set clear hand-off points, to avoid duplication and rework.

Tip 5: Agree On Reporting Needs Early

SIAM has significant implications in how data is collected and used, and performance is measured. Each supplier will no doubt have a standard set of reports, with any custom reports you require agreed at a contractual level. When you multiply this out by the number of suppliers you have within your SIAM model, it’s a lot of data and information, and potentially paperwork.

What should you do? Start with outcomes in mind. Design focused dashboards, with agreed input from all service providers, up front. This will need to include:

  • Foundation data – technical and functional data that relates to the IT infrastructure
  • Performance data – for instance, incidents broken down by category, priority, and service, outstanding problems; and major changes
  • Data about the customer, consumer, and provider for specific services – this will include cost and billing practices

A regular review should also be built into your SIAM reporting to ensure that it remains fit for purpose.

Tip 6: Leverage the Available Tools

Most organizations operating a SIAM model will already have ITSM tools but this might not be enough.

As more organizations move towards multi-sourced operating models, SIAM best practice is emerging, and the ITSM/SIAM tools universe is evolving to support the greater complexity. For example, offering integration functionality needed for working across multiple vendors and partners.

Tip 7: Get Your Sourcing Right

Selecting and contracting service providers can be complex, the following checklist covers the basics:

  • Stick to the agreed scope – set out the exact responsibilities of the service providers in a clear way that removes confusion
  • Leverage third-party SIAM advice – subject matter experts (SMEs) can provide guidance and templates
  • Create a service framework – define the way IT services will be delivered
  • Understand costs and drivers – including for when requirements are customized
  • Negotiate in the manner you wish for future operations – aim for a culture of honesty, collaboration, and trust
  • Use governance to manage transition and transformation – to ensure that projects and programs are executed in a controlled way (there’s more on this below)

Tip 8: Recognize That the Devil is in the (Contract) Detail

With multiple suppliers, vendors, and third parties you’ll need contracts that underpin your service level agreements (SLAs) and operational level agreements (OLAs). These should contain sufficient information such that everyone is on the same page as to what’s expected of them. For example:

  • Exit plans – what’s the period of vendor lock-in? Can knowledge and data be transferred back to the retained organization at contract end? Are there break points in case of persistent failure to meet contractually-agreed SLAs?
  • Statements of work – are descriptions of the provided services sufficiently detailed?
  • Pricing – what pricing models will be used? Make sure the agreed model(s) is understood by all.
  • Penalties – how will financial penalties (for underperformance) be triggered and who are authorized to trigger them.
  • Operational data – who has overall ownership of operational data? In an ideal world, the customer owns the data as they’re paying for the service.
  • Intellectual property – are the rights of both sides (in terms of innovation) protected and is the provision for any special circumstances needed?

Tip 9: Agree on Governance Early On

Multiple layers of governance will be needed, with governance best visualized as a recursive model. Here each service provider manages their own activities but there’s a strong sense of alignment with the rest of the partners in the service model.

I’d recommend building a suitable governance framework at the outset such that escalations are quick and effective, and role clarity is in place.

Tip 10: Plan for Continual Improvement

Have a common approach for continual improvement across all the suppliers in your SIAM model. Aspects to consider include:

  • Prioritization techniques – how will potential improvements be rated and prioritized?
  • Reviewing value – does an improvement proposal deliver increased business value?
  • Costs – does a proposal reduce the overall running costs of the organization?
  • The creation of a continual improvement register – such that each improvement can be transparently prioritized, tracked, and managed over time.

By building a continual improvement capability into your SIAM model, you’re putting quality and improvement at the center of everything.

That’s my 10 SIAM tips done. What SIAM tips would you share? Please let me know in the comments.

Joe The IT Guy is a native New Yorker who loves everything connected to IT service management (ITSM). He's a passionate blogger and twitter addict, and is also the resident IT guy at SysAid Technologies.

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One Response

  1. Good stuff Joe.

    An often neglected area is data. You mentioned foundation data, performance data etc, but I’d like to add CMDB into that list.

    Quite often SIAM includes different outsourcing deals where vendors are responsible for maintaining customer’s configuration either in their own system, vendor’s system or both. This area requires careful planning and agreements on which data each party should be responsible for and how different “data domains” relate to each other.

    For example, a vendor providing “Server Capacity Services” probably maintains Server CI details. And these are often integrated from the vendor’s system to the customer’s system. And instead of just “sending an Excel list of servers”, more attention should be paid to how these server details relate to other Service Configuration on the customer side.

    So, my tips are:
    * Carefully plan and agree a Common Service Data Model including customer facing and supporting services from a portfolio and lifecycle perspective.
    * Agree with each vendor, how their Services are described and linked to other services in this model
    * Agree which data each vendor is responsible to bring into customer’s system
    * Agree how the vendor-provided data is linked to the rest of the service configuration.
    * Measure and follow up data quality as one of the service metrics.

    Cheers,
    –Mikko

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