Is SIAM still relevant in today’s digital age? by Kevin Holland

SIAM in the digital age

Today’s world of IT moves very quickly. Technologies that were new just a few years previously are now seen as outdated.  IT is now used by the vast majority of the population. Using digital channels to make purchases is now the norm rather than the exception. Not so long ago you were pleased if a shop had a website. Now it’s the other way around, you’re pleased if the vendor has a shop!

The same is true for the frameworks used to manage how services are designed and delivered.   Frameworks that have been trusted and used for years are now seen to be outdated and in need of replacement. For example, ITIL® 4, the latest version of the world’s most widely used service management framework, will be launched in Q1 2019, promising to ‘provide organizations with comprehensive guidance for the management of information technology in the modern service economy’ 1. Agile is now the accepted norm. The newer kids on the block like DevOps have matured over the last ten years, and could themselves be superseded before too long. VeriSM™ 2 is very new, claiming to be ‘service management for the digital age’, but is already seeing a good take-up.

Given the fundamental changes in how IT systems and services are delivered, is SIAM still relevant?

I believe that it is, in fact the techniques and concepts within SIAM are even more relevant in todays and tomorrows digital age. In this increasingly complex digital world more and more organizations are getting specialist services, applications, and support from external providers. This needs a robust approach that can integrate these in a seamless way, so that as far as the users are concerned there is still a single business-facing IT service organization. SIAM provides this robust approach, which can reduce operational risk and cost, improve the ability to meet the demands of the business, and allow for flexible sourcing and service provider models.

In this blog I will expand on my thinking to justify why I believe that just about every organization can benefit from first understanding and then adopting SIAM, no matter which other new or old frameworks you are thinking of adopting.

What is SIAM?

Just in case you don’t know what SIAM is, here is the official definition from the SIAM Foundation Body of Knowledge:

“Service integration and management (SIAM) is a management methodology that can be applied in an environment that includes services sourced from a number of service providers.”

 “SIAM has a different level of focus to traditional multi-sourced ecosystems with one customer and multiple suppliers.  It provides governance, management, integration, assurance, and coordination to ensure that the customer organization gets maximum value from its service providers.”

Service Integration and Management has been around for a long time, even before the term SIAM was first coined in 2005.  Adoption of SIAM rapidly increased after the creation of the UK Government ‘Cross Government Strategic SIAM reference set’ in 2012, for which I was the principal architect. Then in 2016 Scopism published the SIAM Foundation Body of Knowledge and SIAM Foundation Process Guides3. These were soon followed by the first global set of SIAM qualifications4 and the SIAM Professional Body of Knowledge5.

If you want to know more about SIAM, then the best place to start is to download the SIAM Foundation Body of Knowledge from the Scopism website. There are also some good whitepapers which can be easily found using internet search engines.

What is the take-up of SIAM today?

SIAM may not be on everyone’s lips, but it isn’t a niche product only used by a small bunch of enthusiasts. Nor is it the latest fad, soon to be superseded by yet another one.  SIAM concepts are in use globally, and the take-up is expanding rapidly. That’s not just what I think, it’s backed up by recent research. Earlier this year Scopism conducted a global survey of SIAM practitioners, with responses from over 200 SIAM practitioners worldwide. The survey helps to build the picture of SIAM maturity and adoption.  You can download the full survey results for free from www.scopism.com, just look for ‘The Global Siam Survey 20186’

Here are some of the headlines from the survey:

  • People from a total of 42 countries responded
  • All sizes of organization have adopted and are adopting SIAM
  • The SIAM methodology can be applied to both IT services and non-IT services

So, SIAM is being used globally, in all sizes of organizations. Just like Verism, SIAM can be used for more than just IT services. These points alone make it relevant to all organizations, as they move away from monolithic supply arrangements with single suppliers into a multi-provider and multi-service global landscape.

Why is SIAM important?

This is what the SIAM Professional BoK says about SIAM:

“Service integration and management has developed in response to the challenges organizations meet when using multiple service providers (sometimes called multi-sourcing).  Although multi-sourcing offers organizations the ability to choose the best service provider for each element of an end to end service, it may also involve significant management overhead costs, and organizations may not have the capabilities to manage the service providers and their services themselves.  SIAM offers guidance to organizations in such a situation.”5

A rapidly increasing number of organizations are facing these challenges. The simple concept of Software as a Service has exploded into ‘Everything as a Service’. New services continually appear on the market, and can be accessed with the click of a mouse button. The number of different service providers used by a typical organization is growing quickly.  But without investing in the capabilities required to manage these service providers, organizations will soon hit problems.

Here is some more key information from the The Global Siam Survey 2018. The top outcomes from adopting SIAM were:

  • Improved supplier performance
  • Improved control over the supply chain
  • Improved collaboration between suppliers
  • Ease of adding and removing suppliers

Hence if you don’t embrace SIAM and invest in the required capabilities necessary for the effective management, control, and co-ordination of multiple suppliers, you are likely to experience:

  • Inadequate supplier performance
  • Lack of control over what happens
  • Poor collaboration between different suppliers
  • Challenges when adding and removing suppliers

 

Do I need SIAM as well as all the other best practices/frameworks/methodologies?

The short answer is, Yes!  Whilst many of these other concepts have something in them related to multi-supplier ecosystems, their focus is on either a much wider or a much narrower basis. SIAM is the only one that focusses only on how to address the challenges arising from using multiple suppliers.  Whilst it is grounded in service management, SIAM does not attempt to replace the ITSM thinking. SIAM provides a different viewpoint for managing services, specifically for the multi-supplier landscape, supplemented by additional relevant practices, including organizational change management and business relationship management.

Let’s take a brief look at the relationship between SIAM and some of the other currently popular and emerging best practices / frameworks / methodologies.

SIAM and ISO/IEC 20000

This important international standard for IT Service Management has recently been updated. The previous version was challenging to apply in multi-provider landscapes, because of the requirements for demonstrating full control over all suppliers. The new version takes into account growing trends in service management, including management of multiple suppliers by a service integrator. The fact that ISO/IEC 20000 has done this is indicative of the prevalence and importance of SIAM to ITSM globally.  SIAM and the new version of ISO/IEC 20000 will complement each other. However, the SIAM bodies of knowledge provide considerably more guidance on how to operate in multi-provider environments than the standard does.

SIAM and ITIL 4

At the time of writing this blog the detailed content of ITIL 4 was not available. Historically ITIL, the most widely used ITSM framework, was very much written for a traditional IT landscape using primarily internal IT providers. Organizations that used multiple external suppliers had to make significant adaptations and create extensions to ITIL to make it work in this environment. Essentially these changes and the subsequent learning from many different organizations provided the input for the SIAM whitepapers and bodies of knowledge. The indications are that ITIL 4 will also include advice on how to operate in a multi-provider environment. However, unlike SIAM, this is not ITIL’s primary focus. As today, organizations will be able to apply both ITIL 4 and SIAM, with each complementing and supporting the other.

SIAM and VeriSM™ 

VeriSM is a new approach for service management which was launched in December 2017. It is not a replacement for existing ITSM frameworks, methodologies, or technologies. Instead it’s an approach that helps an organization to use a combination of these and other existing practices to make a digital transformation, changing every aspect of how the organization operates. VeriSM concepts include a ‘Management mesh’, where the organization can map these frameworks and methodologies to its business processes. This enables different parts of the business to use different approaches, ensuring that they interface together and work towards shared outcomes. The concepts and techniques from SIAM can be used as a fundamental support for VeriSM, for co-ordinating the delivery from the different parties in the mesh. My view is that organizations who adopt VeriSM should also fully understand and adopt SIAM, in order to fully leverage their investment.

SIAM and IT4IT

IT4IT is a reference architecture, with an accompanying set of four value streams. These streams and the architectural model provide a useful framework for delivering and managing IT services, and can be mapped to and used in a multi-supplier environment. Some organizations have successfully used IT4IT as the sole basis for their SIAM model. IT4IT can also be used in conjunction with the SIAM methodology as described in the bodies of knowledge (BoKs), as the concepts and parts of IT4IT can be mapped very closely together. My view is that anybody with a multi-supplier environment would benefit from understanding SIAM first, as this will help them to select the appropriate elements from IT4IT.

SIAM and DevOps

DevOps is a cultural and professional movement that stresses communication, collaboration, and integration between customers that want something which requires technology, and the technology professionals that can create, deliver, manage, and improve that idea or service. Hence it is primarily focused on the technology aspects of software development and IT operations. Increasingly organizations are using multiple DevOps teams, each focussed on specific products, or a mix of in-house DevOps and services provided by external providers, such as hosting and Software as a Service products. Whilst DevOps looks at the technical integration of these products, it tends to omit the vital process-based management, co-ordination, and governance activities and controls. SIAM can successfully provide these, and also useful approaches for the necessary organizational change management and business relationship management activities.  Hence SIAM is vital for success with DevOps if you have more than one supplier.

 

Conclusion

I hope I’ve persuaded you that SIAM is as relevant today as it has been for many years, and will continue to be in the future. SIAM can co-exist with and complement all of the other best practices, frameworks, methodologies, and standards used for IT and ITSM. If you are using services from multiple suppliers, which is the case in just about every organization today, then gaining a full understanding of SIAM is critical for success.

 

About Kevin Holland

Kevin Holland is the Chief Examiner for the EXIN SIAM™ certification scheme. He is passionate about developing and sharing best practice in IT service management, especially SIAM. “I’m proud to be supporting EXIN in the development and promotion of the SIAM™ certification scheme. The scheme is helping organizations to get the most from their investment in SIAM and is driving consistency and quality across the supply chains”.

Kevin has worked in IT for over 35 years in a range of roles including development, operations, and management, most recently in the UK public sector. He was instrumental in driving the development of SIAM thinking, and his eminence in IT service management led to him being made a Fellow of the British Computer Society. Outside of IT, Kevin is an accomplished musician and loves growing and cooking his own food.

 

References:

  1. ITIL 4 Public FAQs October 2018, axelos.com
  2. VerismTM, verism.global
  3. SIAM Foundation Body of Knowledge and SIAM Foundation Process Guides, scopism.com
  4. EXIN BCS SIAMTM https://www.exin.com/qualification-program/exin-bcs-siamtm
  5. SIAM Professional Body of Knowledge, scopism.com
  6. Global SIAM Survey 2018 White Paper, scopism.com