Service Integration

Service Integration (SIAM): The CIO’s challenge, part 1

Service Integration (SIAM) is something that as an IT management consultant and Director of Syniad IT, I am at the forefront of.

What is service integration and management (SIAM)? Service Integration (SI) and Service Integration & Management (SIAM), are relatively new terms coined to describe the coordination of IT Service Management activities by a single entity in a multi-vendor IT landscape.

I can’t help but think that as a Service Manager in the late 1990’s I was already practising the core principles of Service Integration, but somewhere along the way we have lost sight of these, and are relying upon the industry’s consulting and tooling vendors to bestow their words of wisdom upon us to help us resolve the mess that many organisations now find themselves in.

Perhaps, to some extent, this is true. Did we lose the key Service Management ideals during the outsourcing wave of the last decade? Service Management was always included as a key element of one or many of our outsourcing contracts which handed responsibility of our traditional technical towers to third parties. Typically, these include IT Infrastructure, Application Development, Application Maintenance, Help Desk or Network. So every vendor, in each of these towers, had responsibility for execution of the various Service Management process areas described in ITIL, but in hindsight, this wasn’t always a great idea. We effectively introduced duplication of responsibilities and gave the vendor community the opportunity to introduce confusion and lack of clear accountabilities.

Today’s CIOs find themselves with a raft of legacy contracts, at varying stages of maturity and with variable durations. In some cases, there are scope gaps between contracts. These result in unclear responsibilities over who, for example, is responsible for producing management information or liaising with senior business representatives during a critical system outage.

However, more worrying is where outsourcing contracts responsibilities across various sourcing contracts. The business impact of the confusion that this creates is often exacerbated by the fact that there is no retained organisation to arbitrate in such circumstances. Sourcing vendors are left to their own devices, and quite rightly, will seek to do whatever they can to meet their contractual commitments. Sadly, this often results in finger pointing and in extreme cases, results in vendors protecting their contractual targets by declaring “service exceptions”, or in other words circumstances beyond their control.

So, this sets the scene nicely for an arbitration and governance function to ensure that the technology and infrastructure services provided by the respective vendors are integrated together to form an end-to-end service for the business. This is the Service Integration function now being widely lauded as the panacea for all the ills of today’s IT department.

In my next blog “Service Integration: The CIO’s challenge, part 2” I’ll discuss who performs this Service Integration function, and what activities should it be performing? More importantly, I’ll also be taking a look at Service Integration from the business perspective, paying particular attention to their expectations.