SIAM or ITIL?

The term SIAM -Service Integration and Management – has come strongly into focus in recent years due to the strong focus on outsourcing of IT service delivery to multiple suppliers, so-called multi-sourcing. For many, this constitutes a new framework to deal with. An internal IT department, that was service provider for business, often used ITIL – IT Infrastructure Library – as a framework. ITIL has for many years been considered “Best Practice” for this delivery model, and has been widely adopted in the IT industry.

The problem with ITIL has been that it may appear a bit introverted in relation to the new delivery models, which increasingly rely on the fact that businesses may purchase services from many suppliers by the principles of “best of breed.” While ITIL focus has been mainly on how the IT department can deliver the best possible services, SIAM focuses on how business can buy services from several suppliers, both internal IT and external, while still retaining full control over the value chains across the various suppliers.

So should we throw out ITIL and start with SIAM instead? The answer is no, for several reasons:

  • In broad terms, SIAM and ITIL are closely related. Words and expressions are the same, the definition of key processes are quite similar. Those who have introduced Service Management in accordance with ITIL principles, have a good foundation to build on.
  • Professional providers largely use ITIL as a framework in their internal supply chains. This means a common language that all parties can relate to and simplifies work with good interaction.
  • Good tools are appearing on the market that support SIAM. These tools are mostly based on ITIL’s definitions and vocabulary and can support SIAM requirements. Our partner ServiceNow is in our opinion one who has a mature platform for this need.

SIAM is often considered as an extension of ITIL. While ITIL focuses strongly on the relationship supplier-customer, SIAM focuses strongly on several additional areas:

  • While ITIL focuses on the creation of processes and roles, SIAM focuses on establishing a function or organizational unit to ensure that the business gets access to integrated services provided by an ecosystem of suppliers, with the right functionality, quality and costs. The fact is that this capability utilizes many ITIL-based principles in its work, showing the close connection between these frameworks.
  • A good SIAM function has a strong focus on business requirements of the business. Actually key parts of SIAM should be established in business areas as an effective interface between the business’ plans and needs, including services obtained from suppliers. The fact that ITIL processes like Demand Management, Service Portfolio Management and IT Financial Management are key elements in SIAM, again shows the kinship.
  • The Service Integration section of SIAM focuses on how to meet our business needs for services by selecting and integrating sub-services from multiple suppliers to a consistent service.
  • The management section of SIAM focuses on that the business should not lose control of the service deliveries, even if many suppliers are involved. This means establishing new areas of expertise that have functions with the ability to manage service delivery across many suppliers.
  • Ensure that operational events are resolved efficiently and seamlessly across multiple suppliers. Blame-games are not accepted nor enacted.
  • Actively follow up so that needs for support are met.
  • Ongoing monitoring of delivered quality and of corrective measures, where quality objectives for services suffers from inadequate performance.
  • Good quality control and reporting.
  • Control of projects and changes in close cooperation with the business areas.
  • Making available ‘online’ management information for business units,

To summarize, SIAM is a recommendation for the establishment of a function to ensure that business needs are fulfilled, that one has control across integrated services, and to have a function that is responsible for the total services delivered on behalf of the business.

The fact that ITIL is a commonly used foundation for this feature simplifies dialogue with the suppliers who use ITIL, and it provides a common terminology that is useful to avoid misunderstandings. Nevertheless, in dialogue with the business units, it is the company’s language that should be used.