SIAM made simple: an introduction

by | Jul 10, 2020

If you search on Wikipedia for Service Integration and Management you will find a page that starts with a warning: this article appears to contain a large number of buzzwords. Touché. SIAM has become the favourite subject of analysts, consultants and other people who love to make things vague and complicated. Which is a shame, because the reason why SIAM was invented is very legit.

So let’s try to explain the what and why of SIAM without drowning in buzz and fuzz. According to Gartner, the average service organization uses services of at least 12 external service providers. Most of these service providers have their own processes, use their own terminology, SLA’s and service management tool. You don’t have be a genius to understand that this presents challenges to managing and operating such an environment.

 On the other hand, the advantages of outsourcing (some of) your services are also easy to understand. You gain access to a whole marketplace of specialized organizations that can deliver services better, faster and cheaper than your own organization can. This makes it easier to innovate and adapt to new demands. So managing a support environment that involves several external provers has become an important skill. That is why it makes sense to develop an operating model that provides guidance and best practices. Enter SIAM.


Let’s focus on the practical side


When further explaining SIAM we can broadly follow 2 approaches: the theoretical one and the practical one. If you prefer the theoretical approach you can download and read the SIAM Body of Knowledge books from the Scopism website. And then probably come back to this article because you still have no clue what to do next.

So let’s focus on the practical side of SIAM. To start with SIAM, a few things need to be in place. Of course we can (and probably will) add complexity later, but let’s try to keep it simple for now.


A service catalogue
The most overlooked aspect of SIAM and service management in general. It is no coincidence that both trades contain the word ‘service’. Although it sounds obvious, very few organizations have a well-defined service catalogue. Appearantly it is not as simple as it sounds. Try to Google for a ready-to-use example and you will find (almost) nothing useful. Shocking, because the term service catalogue is being used for decades already.


Provider selection
As soon as you know which service(s) you would like to outsource you start selecting your vendors. A key element of this step is to allow them to be the specialist. Let them explain what they can offer and how their services will be beneficial. Try not to micro-manage requirements, paint the bigger picture and allow them to fill in the blanks.


Unified processes
Do not adapt your processes to (individual) vendors. Your processes are leading. Use process abstraction which allows all external providers to use their own internal processes. We will explain how this can be done in a separate article.


The ability to track all SLAs and service quality
You will need a service management tool which can track service dependencies and accompanying SLAs. The truth is that most tools cannot do this without extensive (and expensive) customization. 4me was purposely designed and built to manage SIAM environments and is the only service management tool that provides all required functionality out of the box.

 Your tool should be service-oriented rather than CMBD-oriented. Cor Winkler Prins, the CEO of 4me wrote an excellent white paper which explains why this is important. Download the white paper with the button below this article.

The ability to collaborate
In a SIAM landscape, assignments are passed beween service providers all the time. The exchange of this information needs to be intuitive and easy to set up. You service management tool need to facilitate this by providing segregated (secure) environments or easy to configure integrations with the tool of your providers.


Quick on- and offboarding of providers
Long term contracts and vendor lock-in are a thing of the past. You want to be able to quickly respond to new demand or opportunities so you need to be able to quickly switch providers. This is another good reason to stay away from customizing your processes and tools for specific providers.


With these things in place you will be ready to start your SIAM journey. There is a lot more to say about SIAM and we will zoom in to different aspects of the operating model in follow-up articles. The key takeaway is that SIAM is no secret trade, it is a logical progression of something you have been doing for decades: delivering services to your customers.


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