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I was recently asked to present my experiences of implementing multi-vendor IT operating models, based upon the principles outlined in Service Integration & Management.

The presentation was well received, so I thought I’d write a short blog to expand upon some of the themes I discussed in the presentation.

So here goes, the 8 things I’ve learnt implementing SIAM Operating Models.

1. Change is hard!

If you choose to adopt SIAM principles, you will be changing the IT operating model, through a combination of changes from process, people, organisation design, governance or contracting framework.  Trying to bring about any kind of change is notoriously difficult. You’ll need to adopt business change principles to understand the corporate culture, as well as the culture of the people affected by the change.

Corporate inertia and personal resistance to change are the biggest challenges facing any program of this nature and this must not be underestimated if the program is to be successful.

I’d strongly suggest involving the people who will be impacted by the change in the early stages of the project planning. This will reduce the risk of the perception that the changes are being done “to them” rather than “by them”.  Taking the people affected by the change on the journey from the start is absolutely critical.

It’s also critical to ensure that leadership is on message with the reasons for the change, how individuals will be impacted and to allay specific fears regarding job losses.

2. SIAM isn’t just ITSM

When we talk about SIAM, it’s often tempting to consider only the IT Service Management process impacts of the SIAM approach.  However, its impact is much broader than this.

Ensure that the following are also considered:

  • Demand management
  • Project management
  • Commercial Management
  • Solution Development
  • Technical Management

Failure to consider the entire IT Operating Model results in opportunities to introduce benefits being missed, so be thorough in your analysis and broad in your thinking.

You may need to consult not only with ITSM leading practices such as ITIL, but also frameworks such as COBIT to broaden your thinking.

I gave a presentation on the Brightalk platform on this very subject, so if you’d like to hear more of my thinking here, please take a look at the SIAM isn’t just multi-vendor itsm webinar.

3. Changing existing contracts is hard

Often, the decision to consider a change to a SIAM operating model is caused by a compelling event, such as a contract change, end of an outsourcing contract, or major business reorganisation.  When looking at your organisation’s contract landscape you will likely see a vast array of different contracts, each with varying start and end dates. Most critically, each with various issues in terms of your ability to change contract terms and ways of working, which is a severe constraint in moving to the SIAM model which will call for more collaboration between suppliers, as well as a move away from the traditional SLA target based structure which was formerly favoured in the big multi-sourced contracts.

Changing the existing contracts is hard. Therefore choosing the timeframe in which to consider changing to a SIAM model is critical.  You’ll need to choose a time where contracts may be due for renewal or review, to give you the opportunity to change to a more flexible model.

4. A tooling strategy is critical

One of the most critical elements in the success of a SIAM operating model is the ability to establish a single source of truth for data and automate workflow through a toolset that spans the entire IT Operating model.

You can read more about our thoughts on a SIAM Tooling Strategy In essence, our advice in this area is as follows:

  • Don’t limit your thinking to your ITSM tool. There are a whole bunch of other tools you should consider in the areas of IT Operations Management, Asset Management, Capacity Management and Reporting, amongst many others.
  • Use SIAM as an opportunity to build, own and maintain a data model, so you can understand where data is mastered, as well as establishing a tighter grasp of data ownership and integration.
  • Consider the data integration requirements in detail and develop an appropriate data integration model. This should enable your SIAM eco-system to exchange and update accurate data with regards to system performance, alerts, incidents, changes, assets and configuration data.
  • Ensure you have built a robust Roles Based Access Control (RBAC) model for your data to ensure that service providers can only access the data which they require, without exposing data that may be sensitive, unnecessary or carry a restrictive data classification.

5. Don’t assume everyone has the required knowledge, there’s lots of people ”winging it!”

By nature, we’re often afraid to speak up when we don’t understand something, particularly at work.  Before commencing a SIAM program, it’s a good idea to ensure that staff are well versed in some based principles, particularly in the following areas:

  • ITSM
  • SIAM
  • CObIT
  • Agile
  • Cloud
  • Commercial frameworks

It’s also worthwhile to consider training staff in the fundamentals of business change so that they can develop their own approaches to managing change within their teams.

6. There’s no one size fits all

Many organisations fail to grasp the concept of adopt and adapt.  Just as in ITIL, the guidance written in SIAM best practice documentation, such as the SIAM Body of Knowledge, is just that, guidance.  You’ll need to use this guidance as the main ingredient in your own SIAM operating model, ensuring that the solution meets the specific challenges and requirements of your own organisation.

Beware those offering a rapid SIAM implementation as these seemingly too-good-to-be-true offers, are just that.  They will fail to take into account your specific requirements and will fail to overcome your challenges which have lead you to consider SIAM in the first place.

You can of course seek some advice from expert organisations such as Syniad IT to help you design, build and implement your own SIAM operating model.

7. SIAM Program governance is critical to get decisions reviewed and landed (and to make sure they don’t come back!)

As with any major change program, your SIAM program will need to benefit from robust program governance.  You’ll need to make some pretty complex and difficult decisions, so you’ll need support from various stakeholder groups, not only in making the decision, but also in “banking” them.  In other words, getting them agreed, communicated and logged, so that these banked decisions cannot be overturned without further analysis, assessment and governance.

Establish a governance model early to address such issues as organisation design, training, process design, tooling strategy and service level agreements/key performance indicators.  You may wish to establish separate working groups for these areas, each reporting in to a specialist governance forum.

The alternative to establishing a robust governance forum, and a method favoured by many organisations is that of “management by committee” which results in hundreds of unnecessary meetings, failure to bank agreed decisions and is the major cause for SIAM program inertia.  Feel free to choose the method which suits you best!!

Ensure that any governance model enables a high degree of delegated authority, empowering individuals to make decisions to keep things moving.  Again, another cause of program inertia is the inability to make timely decisions.

8. Cultural change is your biggest barrier

As I said at the outset, Change is hard.  One of the greatest barriers to change is organisational and personal culture change.  Culture describes ways of working, preferred approaches to how we interact with each other.

In a SIAM operating model, as new multi-service provider ways of working are introduced, we seek to challenge the cultural paradigms that may have been in place for many years.

Cultural challenges often present themselves in the form of:

  • The need for collaboration in an environment where knowledge is power
  • The need for measurement and tracking in an environment where targets and monitoring are perceived as a challenge
  • The need for openness and honesty in dealings with service providers
  • The introduction of new measures and performance indicators which may shine a spotlight on particular areas of process deficiency
  • The tendency to codify and document all working practices in an environment where some working practices may be less formal and based on collaboration and conversation as opposed to documented process and procedural steps

Implementing any change to an IT Operating Model is difficult.  However, it is not impossible.  Hopefully, the learnings above will be of assistance in helping SIAM Program Managers structure their program, avoiding these common pitfalls.

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