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As many enterprises move away from large managed service contracts toward a best-in-breed model for service provision, a greater emphasis on governance, integration, and data and information aggregation is required. Service integration and management (SIAM), or multisourcing integration, can help CIOs increase agility and ensure alignment and integration across multiple IT services and technologies.
SIAM is much more than a buzzword. The SIAM model represents a useful way of addressing the multisourcing challenges facing organizations that outsource their IT functions (e.g., network, data center, end user) to many service providers. SIAM ensures that this multifaceted IT supply chain -- which can spiral out of control -- aligns with the needs of the enterprise in a seamless and integrated manner. The need for such an approach has been brought into stark focus by the increasing popularity of "as-a-service" offerings for infrastructure (IaaS), software (SaaS) and platform (PaaS).
To ensure that the SIAM model can function effectively, a strategic management layer must be in place, typically with the enterprise's retained IT function.
Drivers for a multisourcing approach
As IT services become more commoditized, corporate IT functions are seeking to focus on the strategic aspects of IT rather than the tactical management of service providers or provisioning of the services. Additionally, organizations are seeking increased agility to change strategic direction more easily through "plug and play" and "as-a-service" IT provision. They are also looking to utilize service providers that can optimize service delivery, drive innovation and improve service availability and reliability.
Multisourcing supports this industry direction by providing diverse service delivery models. This places a emphasis on the capability to integrate the service providers into one seamless and cohesive unit. This is a challenging role that many organizations have looked to take on themselves through investment in their personnel and technical resources but, as organizations focus more heavily on their strategic core, external integration services are becoming more prevalent. Therefore, many service providers have begun to realign their offerings to include a "SIAM-as-a-service" capability.
The role of the service integrator
To ensure that the multiple services are aligned with the overall expectations of the business and that all of the contracted parties work together, a service integrator, fulfilling service integration activities, is necessary. Dependent on a number of factors, such as maturity and implementation time, the service integrator role may be performed internally or sourced externally.
In the SIAM model, the service integrator is accountable for ensuring that all of the service providers perform to deliver a seamless service that is aligned to the contractual commitments made between the providers and the IT/business organizations. This differs from the traditional managed service provider model as most service providers are external to the service integrator organization and, therefore, demand more stringent integration. Typical activities of the service integrator include:
- communicating and managing alignment to the organization's policies and standards;
- measuring and monitoring process performance (effectiveness) regularly;
- managing end-to-end service-level management performance, retaining overall accountability;
- managing cross-service corrective actions, continual service improvement and innovation activities;
- handling cross-service incidents and root cause analysis activities, especially major incident management;
- overseeing cross-service change and release management; and
- delivering and managing an IT Service Management (ITSM) tool to aggregate ITSM lifecycle events and information related to service performance.
Service integration is necessary to ensure that, subject to the contracted scope, the design, transition, operation and improvement activities are aligned. The procedures for each of the processes within the service management lifecycle stages must identify appropriate integration points for the model to be effective. For example, an organization may define the touchpoints between the service desk and the network service providers during the course of an incident or define how and when the service-level performance will be reported to the integrator.
Retain or source?
A key tenet for enterprises is to retain a minimum level of strategic control and overall governance of IT service provision, as this allows it to concentrate on its strategic core while determining which services will be sourced.
There are three key activities that the organization's governing body must perform when governing IT, namely defining strategy and policies for service provision; evaluating proposals and plans from the service providers; and assessing service performance and monitoring alignment with documented expectations.
For tactical and operational processes (e.g., service design and, in particular, service transition and service operation processes, such as service catalog, release and incident management processes), the retained IT organization may decide to perform these processes; however, they are also candidates for outsourcing to a service integrator. If outsourced, the service integrator performs many of these processes under delegated authority from the organization's retained IT function. The retained IT organization will still define policies, objectives, metrics and goals for these process areas while allowing the service integrator to perform the day-to-day management.
As CIOs grapple with how to best approach a multisourced strategy, many enterprises can benefit from taking a SIAM operating approach. Ultimately, we expect the future vendor landscape to further shift toward a SIAM model that is focused on delivering best-practice integration and aggregation.
About the author:
David Clifford is a director at Pace Harmon, a business transformation and outsourcing advisory firm. He has an international track record of over 25 years of business program management and IT service management advisory experience. His background also includes IT strategy development, IT portfolio management, strategic sourcing, and IT operational experience. He has led multinational organizations through major change at an IT level and within the core business operations. David has authored many books in the ITSM, ISO standards and SIAM (service integration and management)/multisourcing integration fields. Additionally, he has been involved in developing ITIL® and other ITSM publications.
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