Practical SIAM: A straightforward guide

Demystifying SIAM

Simon Dorst and Michelle Major-Goldsmith, lead architects of the recently launched SIAM Professional Body of Knowledge, offer an overview of SIAM and what you can expect from the BoK.

Service Integration and Management (SIAM) has been high on the hype-curve over the past few years. Despite the publication of white papers and blogs providing various flavours of opinion, until recently there has been no formalisation of the term SIAM, nor a standardised methodology.

With the successful publication of the SIAM Foundation Body of Knowledge (BoK) in 2016, that changed. And late last year the SIAM Professional BoK was launched, providing further, practical guidance to mature the management of multi-provider environments.

A brief history of SIAM

The term ‘Service Integration and Management’ or SIAM, and the concept of SIAM as a management methodology, originated in around 2005 from within the UK public sector. SIAM interest became global when, in 2015, AXELOS published several white papers on SIAM and, in 2016, the SIAM Foundation Architect Group was formed by Scopism. The objective was to bring together knowledge from SIAM practitioners to create a consolidated view of their experience. This culminated in the release of the Foundation Body of Knowledge (and the associated certification) which provided common terminology and standardised descriptions, principles and practices.

When writing the SIAM Foundation BoK, we came across some great material, too much to include in the Foundation BoK. So, in 2017, we continued by writing a Professional-Level Body of Knowledge. We expanded the team to more than 40 global practitioners to make sure the new BoK would reflect a wide variety of current practices, provide real-life information about potential pitfalls and offer tips for success.

In the Professional BoK, the theory of the Foundation BoK is put into the ‘reality’ of the SIAM implementation roadmap. The SIAM Professional BoK provides more in-depth guidance, accompanied by examples of how to, or how not to, apply this into practice.

So, what is SIAM?

SIAM is used, in particular, for service integration across multiple providers. The management of multiple service providers by a single organisation makes for significant challenges in overall administration. SIAM seeks to address the need to provide a standardised methodology for integrating and managing multiple service providers and their services. It enhances the delivery of the end-to-end supply chain, it provides governance, management, integration, assurance and coordination to maximise the value received from multiple service providers.

SIAM supports cross-functional, cross-process and cross-provider integration, in a complex sourcing environment or ecosystem in which all parties understand their role and responsibilities and are empowered to deliver – and are held accountable for – their outcomes. As such, it’s more than a rigid contractual performance structure, but a cultural change that includes collaboration and an end-to-end focus on the services being delivered.
More tangible than this collaborative, end-to-end culture (as important as it is) is the structural and functional organisation that SIAM provides in a multi-provider environment. The SIAM model provides a single logical entity with accountability for the end-to-end service delivery, known as the service integrator. The customer organisation has a specific management relationship with the service integrator and the service integrator manages the relationships, with the multiple service providers supporting the organisation. This structure allows the customer organisation to continue to supply and own the contracts with providers but not to have to worry about the day-to-day overhead of their management.

The application of this structure also allows for a clearer definition of a process model (as well as a tooling strategy, governance and a reporting and performance framework) and then the allocation of mandated or directive practices. With regards to best practices, this can be mandated to enforce service providers to use the same practice (for instance ITIL). But, in most cases, a SIAM model offers the flexibility and freedom for providers to use their own preferred practices (for instance Agile), so long as the interactions between the providers and with the service integrator meets the predefined outcomes (i.e. the WHAT and not the HOW).

The SIAM roadmap

Both SIAM BoKs build on the idea of an implementation roadmap, which has four iterative stages:

  • Discovery and Strategy
  • Plan and Build
  • Implement
  • Run and Improve.

Each phase outlines and responds to the main concerns that support achievement of a roadmap stage. It covers areas such as creating an outline business case, undertaking an organisational capability assessment and market analysis, through to defining a tooling strategy, a governance model and collaboration activities. It also focuses on the ongoing approaches to managing relationships and contractual concerns, the complexities of sourcing and displacement and approaches to creating collaborative working and achieving end-to-end performance measurement.

The myths…

There are still some common misunderstandings about SIAM and we feel the need to dispel some of these.

It isn’t a silver bullet. It will not solve all your issues (you know, the ones you’ve been trying for decades to have ITIL resolve, and then you thought DevOps would take care of them, and now you’re looking for ‘the next best thing’).

Despite popular discussion, it isn’t a replacement of ITIL either. While there are similarities and overlaps to the basic principles of both, SIAM is not meant to ‘take over where ITIL left off’. Neither do you need to choose between ITIL or SIAM (or any other practice for that matter). SIAM is unique in offering a structure, culture, principles and practices for managing a multi-service provider environment, which then allow the use of your framework-of-choice.

It is also not a fad, something ‘those consultants’ came up with to sell some books, training and consultancy. SIAM has been around for more than ten years. The need to build an agile ecosystem of multiple service providers and utilise best-of-breed, collaboration and coordination is not going anywhere. In fact, SIAM is mentioned as one of the progressive practices in the recently launched VeriSM approach, which indicates its common acceptance as an approach for managing complex multi-provider service models in the digital age.
With the Professional BoK we have presented SIAM as a coherent and practical framework, to make sure that people understand what it is and how it can help them.