If you’ve never come across SIAM (Service Integration and Management), you might enter this term into a search engine to find out what it is. It may come as no surprise then, that you wouldn’t be the only one who had that idea. Far from it, in fact. One of the most popular search terms relating to SIAM is ‘What is SIAM?’ and that is what this short article aims to address.
What is SIAM?
Service Integration and Management is a management methodology that came about as a result of the shift towards the outsourcing of specialist resources or skills.
Ok, now in layman’s terms. Organizations often hire external suppliers to manage specific processes on their behalf. Organizations of any size can do this and often do, especially when it comes to resources that they cannot compete on when it comes to cost. Quite often, organizations simply don’t have the human resources, expertise, or money to keep certain activities in-house. This is where outsourcing is an excellent answer to a need that would otherwise not be met. If it gets to the point that an organization is outsourcing many of these capabilities, it can become challenging to manage the multitude of suppliers. To ensure that the most customer value can be obtained from the suppliers, it makes sense to ‘integrate’ them and have a service integrator to manage the integration and the day-to-day service provision afterward. Where an organization usually has a customer (organization) and service provider (supplier) layers, the service integrator adds a layer between the two.
Why does SIAM help?
In the simplest terms, by adopting the SIAM model, an organization ensures consistency. When you have many service providers, they all have their own ways of working and their own governance style. Applying SIAM provides the organization with governance, coordination, management, assurance, and of course, integration. This is the major difference between a SIAM ecosystem and a more traditional multi-supplier environment.
When SIAM is adopted and applied consistently, it ensures that everyone within the organization and the various suppliers are on the same page. Unified governance at a strategic, tactical, and operational level ensures that everyone knows what they need to do to achieve the common goal. It also means that when two suppliers are working on something where their responsibilities connect or overlap, they can coordinate and communicate where they might not have done so before. This can be a vital step in ensuring consistent service for end customers. SIAM makes it possible to create end-to-end service even when parts of the service are supplied by different providers. Aside from improved collaboration between suppliers, the Scopism Kinetic IT 2019 Global SIAM Survey also reported ‘better supplier performance, better reporting, and management information, better return on investment from suppliers’.
Who could benefit from SIAM?
Any organization that is managing multiple suppliers could potentially benefit from SIAM. However, there are some clear indicators as to when SIAM adoption can positively affect your business. If three or more of the red flags below are relevant for your organization, you might want to consider creating a service integrator layer to manage your suppliers:
- Unclear delineation of duties among vendors
- Lack of cooperation and coordination among vendors
- Little accountability and no transparency of vendor processes and benchmarks for completion
- Leadership discouraged by lack of innovation among vendors who are eager to fulfill a contract
- Reporting on quality assurance is costly and labor intensive for vendors
- Hiring company has a growing need for a number of diverse IT services
- Hiring company finds increase in complexity of services being provided
- Hiring company has 24/7 operational needs
- Hiring company has noticed increase in internal and external customer expectations
- Hiring company has no set standards for measuring vendor is performing to quality expectations, invested in business goals and working in innovative ways to enhance end-user experience
Of course, if you identify fewer than three red flags, but the ones you do identify are business-critical, it becomes a matter of urgency to find a solution.
A Practical Example
One of the easiest ways to get an idea of why and how SIAM can be effective is by taking looking at a case study. In the fictional scenario below, an international organization that initially made a name for itself as a store-only business has been undergoing Digital Transformation resulting in an omnichannel business with web, mobile, and in-store kiosks.
A large international organization specializing in the sale and distribution of clothing decided to digitalize their business towards the end of the 2000’s. Now, in 2020, customers can order on mobile or via their website, pick up their purchases in-store, browse the collection on in-store kiosks, etc. The organization has an enterprise-level eCommerce website, a Product Information Management (PIM) system that connects to the website, and an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system that keeps track of warehouse and store stock levels. Each of these different parts is outsourced to specialist suppliers. However, they are managed by different parts of the organization, even though they all interact with each other and are subject to certain dependencies. Several issues have arisen where the different systems and points of sale are not working together optimally. The website and PIM system are not showing a return on investment because the teams in charge are not managing either effectively, both with the suppliers and each other. Management has determined that this is due to a lack of specialist knowledge in the organization.
The organization believes it is struggling because although they have implemented systems that address customer’s needs, the employees responsible for the systems lack the in-depth knowledge to maintain and run them. But is that the only issue at the root of the problem?
It looks like there is a bigger issue here. The fact that there is clearly no overarching strategy as to how to manage the suppliers is a problem. It also looks like the different vendors and suppliers are not collaborating directly. The organization is meeting an increase in customer expectations by providing more ways to easily and conveniently buy their products. Can you see any other red flags in the case study?
How to get started with SIAM
The organization in the example above would be well advised to make a start on SIAM adoption, and quickly too. But how can an organization get started with what is by no means a simple undertaking? There are several different ways that an organization can take the first steps on the way to SIAM implementation. The most important step is the buy-in from management. Management must stand behind the decision so that adequate funding can be secured, and that mandate is given to those who coordinate the implementation. Half measures are not possible when implementing SIAM. If an organization chooses to adopt it, it must be done thoroughly and continuously, or the benefits of SIAM won’t be felt.
The professionals within the organization who will take charge of the adoption and roll-out have some options. They can outsource the process to a SIAM implementation partner, or ask a consultant to take a leading role in finding a partner and overseeing the process, or they could even choose to manage the entire process themselves! Whichever route an organization chooses, it is essential that they truly start to live and breathe SIAM.
EXIN BCS SIAM Certification Program
One way to ensure that professionals in an organization can embrace the adoption and implementation of SIAM is to ensure that they have the knowledge they need to understand it. The EXIN BCS SIAM certification program features two certifications. EXIN BCS SIAM Foundation is ideal for professionals who want to understand how to implement SIAM methodology in their organization. Professionals who wish to build on their knowledge can take the next step can get EXIN BCS SIAM Professional certified. Both certifications are based on the respective Bodies of Knowledge (free to download) published by Scopism.