Service Integration and Management (SIAM), an approach to managing multiple suppliers of services and integrating them to provide a single business-facing IT organisation has had a mixed rap in the public sector. So much so, that in February 2015 – Alex Holmes, GDS’ Chief Operating Officer penned a blog titled ‘Knocking Down The Towers of SIAM’. Many saw this as the government turning its back on SIAM, period. But that was not quite the intention of the blog. Instead, it highlighted how the SIAM model in use across much of the UK public sector needed to evolve and ensure it was fit for purpose to address the challenges the sector faces today and the needs of users.
Jon Morley, Service Delivery Manager of Littlefish explores the challenges of the SIAM model and what is needed for it to work.
In the simplest sense, SIAM is a methodology that provides governance for organisations that choose to outsource their IT environment to multiple service providers (a disaggregated model, versus outsourcing the entire estate to a single supplier) in a cost-effective way to achieve the service levels needed to support the business.
Demand in the market is rapidly rising, so much so that, the SIAM Foundation Architect Group led by Scopism, developed the ‘SIAM Body of Knowledge’ to establish best practice and support the new SIAM Foundation training course. It is based on the input from many organisations, large and small, private and public sector. They’ve collectively formulated and built a framework that helps organisations to move from one outsourcer to multiple providers to get the most out of their investment in IT, without losing visibility through day to day management and overarching governance.
When asked recently, Rob Anderson, Principal Analyst at analyst firm GlobalData, shared these thoughts: “most departments and central government agencies are committed to ending the single IT outsourcing contracts. For services, outside of support for large incumbent systems that cannot be allowed to fail, there is a general trend toward using smaller more agile suppliers, mixed with a plan to develop and deliver services in-house digitally. Central Government spent £363m with SME suppliers through G-Cloud in 2016, compared with £36m in 2013, a ten-fold increase, so the use of smaller suppliers is clearly expanding.”
At the same time, the rise in popularity of suppliers offering cloud computing such as Amazon, Microsoft and specialist application development companies now means that the question is no longer “do I need to integrate multiple supplier provided services?” but one of “how do I integrate them effectively?”.
So for those unsure about, or in the early stages of, moving away from a monolithic supplier to best of breed SIAM, what are the key considerations, how can departments ensure success, and what developing trends need to be considered?
Well, there are three main ingredients. SIAM needs people, process and technology to work and without all these considerations, it will simply fail or at best be cumbersome.
The primary needs are considered contracts, alongside strong, transparent and flexible relationships and cooperation with service providers, the service integration function and all staff.
It really is a collaboration process for all parties and very often there may need to be a cultural shift in behaviours. Think about the skills you now need. More suppliers mean the importance of supplier management is increased. The need to have service management professionals who are subject matter experts but also understand how to build and maintain relationships across organisations is also important.
Don’t lose sight of the fact that now more than ever with the development of cloud services and fast iterative application development practices, the role of IT is to deliver business outcomes, not be inward focussed and causing the business to purchase their own uncontrolled “shadow IT”. Does your IT function have the right level of business understanding and engagement? Are individuals able to focus on the business as their primary customer each day and not be side tracked worrying unnecessarily about the performance of the various service providers?
Processes and data need to be flexible and able to integrate with others - particularly the service providers. Make sure your governance model avoids unnecessary and costly “man marking” or mandating of process that delivers little or no business value. ITIL is sometimes deemed to be at odds with the requirements of today’s application development and support teams; how will the required flexibility be achieved but control maintained?
Data quality and its influence on service reporting is key. Objective measures of performance that align to business requirements focus everyone on the right things. Will my processes integrate properly? Are downstream dependencies met? Also, major Incident management without high quality configuration management input in the form of service maps will see inefficient resolution and elongated outages for the business.
For service management tooling what are you using and how are you managing it? Is there a clear service management tooling architecture that maps out the dependencies and has clear lines of responsibility? For example, own tools vs. external service providers’ tools – be flexible and look at the best toolset for the job but be cognisant of driving unnecessary costs both ongoing and one off.
Also automation is critical on every level. Users expect multi-channel interaction with Service Desks and fast provisioning of service requests. The business expects highly available services with proactive monitoring and automated fixes for infrastructure and application issues. In house or specialist development third party teams expect fast provisioning of cloud based infrastructure. With the integration capabilities possible in today’s service management tools through their APIs, it would be foolish to run a modern SIAM ecosystem relying on manual inputs and interventions.
Littlefish customer Historic England provides an example of this principle in action. Historic England had gone through 25 years of outsourcing its IT estate to a single supplier and they wanted to move away from this model. They wanted greater control, more flexibility, transparency of cost, fewer layers of management, greater efficiencies and value for money. It recognised the potential of a move to multi-sourcing from best of breed suppliers, combined with in-house delivery teams, to achieve excellence in service delivery and an improved ability to align the objectives of IT to that of the business.
Historic England is now taking a forward looking, truly collaborative approach whereby “Service Desk and Service Management Office” becomes part of the service integration layer, bringing together: end user devices, unified communications, networking, hosting, application management and support, and other third party services.
Furthermore, over the last 18 months, Community Health Partnerships, UK Export Finance and Bristol Energy have also all moved from larger suppliers because they wanted a better level of service. Not only did they achieve those service level improvements, they did so at a more competitive rate. It is clear to see there is a gap in the market for a SIAM approach to transform businesses for the better, as long as you partner with companies with genuine appetite and agility, with the power to adapt and evolve the model as the demands of the business develop.
Disaggregation is happening now, and the public sector is still especially aware it needs to ‘grasp the nettle’. There exists a clear opportunity to reap the benefits of massive service quality improvements and cost efficiencies through transitioning to a best of breed supplier model.
Once a clear SIAM methodology is in place, consistency can prevail and business transformation can happen, offering unlimited benefits such as improved customer satisfaction, a higher quality of service, optimised costs and importantly more direct control over decision making and direction. The key is to own your own environment and do so in a way that allows you to focus on and adapt to the needs of your business. That is how you really put the management back into service integration.
Jon Morley is Service Delivery Manager at Littlefish
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