101 on Service Integration and Management (SIAM)

Service Integration and Management

Enterprise IT architecture has evolved from the earlier monolithic, single supplier model to a best-of-breed approach in order to address IT needs of specific business services. The struggle for enterprises is that, as they consume IT and business services from multiple sources it becomes much more complex to manage them and ultimately align them in the interest of achieving the business goals.

Service Integration and Management (SIAM) has emerged as an effective way to manage multiple internal and external IT and business suppliers to ensure continued service delivery at the expected standard.

The Business Problem

Business services within enterprises are dependent on IT-enabled business systems for smooth operations and for the achievement of their business objectives. Given the different, specific needs of different business units and departments, enterprises now typically follow a “best of breed” approach to provisioning the infrastructure required for ensuring service delivery. This has led to complex multi-vendor environments across the enterprise. The situation is complicated further as enterprises start to rely more heavily on the cloud for addressing some of the IT infrastructure needs. This combination of the public cloud, private cloud, legacy internal IT systems, external business service providers and even emerging technology trends like enterprise mobility comes together to significantly complicate the effort of managing disparate systems.

This complexity presents several challenges for the enterprise:

Greater Expense of “staying on”: Rita Gunther McGrath of Columbia Business School in her book “The End of Competitive Advantage: How to Keep Your Strategy Moving as Fast as Your Business” reported that due to increased complexity companies were being forced to spend as much as 80 – 90% of their IT budgets just to “keep the lights on”. This leaves little for innovation, growth or strategic investments.

Incompatibility among systems: Different business systems follow their own methods and standards and this leads to difficulties in bringing them together for a common purpose. Creating custom point-to- point integration between these systems is time-consuming, effort intensive and ultimately expensive.

Differing vendor service levels and standards: In the outsourcing context, there is the reference to “the Watermelon Effect”. This situation arises when each vendor has their own standards and negotiates SLAs based on those standards. The net impact is that though each vendor shows that they are meeting their charter, the business sees disappointing or declining standards of support from the IT systems.

Inability to fix accountability when issues occur: Multiple systems from multiple vendors can lead to situations where responsibility for issues is hard to nail down as vendors aim to shift responsibility to other systems in the eco-system. This can potentially cause delays in resolution.

Silos of information: Enterprises are operating in scenarios of heightened competition and demanding customers. The need is to react very fast to changes in the market dynamics or even to proactively anticipate an upcoming change and prepare for it. In this situation, they have to be extremely agile in their decision making. Data stored and processed in different business systems across the enterprise will lead to silos of information. The insights that could be derived from this data, when taken together may not be available when taken individually. Apart from adversely impacting the business agility of the enterprise, this could also lead to opportunity loss because of an inability to take a unified view of the data.

More complexity in vendor management: Multiple vendors, each with a smaller piece of the overall pie increases the complexity of managing them as all efforts related to procurement, contract negotiation, maintenance agreements and compliance issues are duplicated. This also adversely impacts the ability to get cost and service benefits from scale.

Slow to adapt to technology changes: Having to manage multiple systems reduces the flexibility to change. IT systems are always evolving and there is also a drive among organizations to adapt to disruptive technologies like the Cloud and Enterprise Mobility. In such a scenario, adapting to change becomes a more complex exercise, involving a lot of coordination among vendors and among systems.

More potential security loopholes / gaps: Security is a growing concern for organizations and multiple IT & business systems bring with them multiple points of potential failure and their own Vulnerabilities. Providing adequate protection across these systems as well as tracking and reporting on them for compliance purposes becomes a highly effort intensive andtime-consuming task as the systems add up.

Harder to plan for the long term: With so many moving parts it becomes harder for the enterprise to plan for the long term as there are so many more factors to be considered with respect to each business or IT system and each vendor and service provider.

The Business Solution: Implementing SIAM to Streamline Service Delivery across the Enterprise

Service Integration and Management (SIAM) is an approach to managing multiple suppliers of services (business services as well as information technology services) and integrating them to provide a single business-facing IT organization. It aims at seamlessly integrating interdependent services from various internal and external Service Providers into end-to-end services in order to meet business requirements.

The Process followed for a SIAM implementation :

  • Defining the Service Management Architecture: How is the entire system organized, how do the interlocking parts (the services) fit with each other, the dependencies, and how these linkages define the approaches that will have to be taken to address growth and scale needs.
  • Drawing Service Maps: Charting the workflow of each service as well as the service components associated with service delivery like the criticality of the service, and the support contracts and SLAs that govern the service. This information will help the team providing the SIAM to understand the conditions that govern each specific service.
  • Creating a team: The functional team that will have to be built for SIAM will be determined by the size, scale and scope of the effort, the overall service levels to be committed and the sheer complexity of the IT environment being taken over for management.
  • Contracts: The need is to move beyond Service Level Agreements (SLAs) to Service Integration Agreements (SIAs) or Operating Level Agreements (OLAs). These contracts can define what will ultimately matter in the overall service delivery – issues like performance, up-time, availability and usability.
  • Governance Mandate: A system of reviews has to be put into place with very clearly performance and compliance goals defined and a transparent governance structure has to be put into place to conduct the audits and reviews, assign responsibility for slippages and in the end ensure overall service delivery up to the needed standards.

The Benefits of a SIAM implementation:

  • Better management of suppliers leading to a better standard of service and lower costs.
  • More efficient and effective service delivery across the IT organization.
  • More predictable levels of service.
  • Great flexibility and improved agility, especially when making changes.

The end-game is clearly using the integrated service delivery infrastructure to better deliver services that are designed to help the achievement of business goals.

By Sheetal Kale

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