iCore Ltd

Keeping businesses moving …

The Reality of SIAM (Part 2)

An image of the five hands holding cogwheels which presents Service Integration.


Steve Ingall, former Head of Business Service for iCore Ltd, produced Part 1 of this blog. Part 2 looks into SIAM further. Steve, has been working with many organisations on their Service Integration and Management (SIAM) strategy; the approach to deliver this; and the implementation of the agreed model.  Steve says “Recently I have seen a surge in an attempt to ‘professionalise SIAM’ through various means, including the establishment of practitioner qualifications, bodies of knowledge, and the usual publishing houses.  All good textbook stuff from what I can see and I do commend people to read these. However, not a lot of depth and practical advice in what I have seen.” 

In the second part of this two part blog Steve covers the approach he thinks should be considered; the pitfalls; some critical success factors (CSFs) and concludes with asking ‘is SIAM what you should be striving for’.

View Part 1 here


As always with any ‘journey’ of this kind it depends where you start from, however having looked at this for more than a dozen large international organisations over the last ten years iCore has developed an approach that has been beneficial to all those organisations and has enabled us to develop a blueprint for SIAM.

Begin with the End in Mind

This Steven Covey ‘habit’ is a great mantra to have as you go through this journey.  The first thing that is required is some form of strategy (or a vision) that states what it is that you are aiming to achieve. Don’t over complicate it but make it powerful.  A few strong statements that people understand and can get behind, e.g. Who we are; Why we exist; Where we want to be; How we want to get there; When we want to/need to/must get there;   What outcomes we want to/need to/must achieve.   Remember anyone who reads it will want to know “What’s in it for me” (WIIFM).  Spend some time as a management team thinking about these points.

Ensure Business Integration

However, it remains imperative that we understand the Business and that the Business is able to articulate what its plans and strategy are.  This is the job of the CIO but they need help to be able to translate the required business outcomes though exceptional technical capability.  What is the overall Business Strategy and the Operating Model going forward and how will technology support and enable that? 

If the model is to embrace more ‘Business aligned IT’ then we need to embrace this and have a strategy that accommodates it.  Steve says “In my time I have seen good things come from what is called ’Shadow IT’ and the IT Department needs to adapt to embrace this and engage it.  As the Spice Girls said this is “When 2 Become 1”.  In fact Steve believes that the traditional IT Department must change to become totally integrated into the Business and become product based in its delivery.

Effective Measurement

Steve wrote a paper several years ago called ‘Measure what Matters’ and he sticks to this saying that we often measure too many of the wrong things, and often nobody uses the information provided to make effective decisions.  Meaningless and expensive. 

Think about what the outcomes are that are important and work out what you really need to measure as a Service Level, and don’t be fobbed off by suppliers saying too hard.  Steve states “It has to be important to drive down the number of major incidents, mean time to restore service, the level of failed change, the time to provision environments, etc… and I would suggest less important to measure process adherence.”  Focus on outcomes.


iCore were asked to review the service levels and performance management employed by a leading metropolitan police force which resulted in iCore recommending that more than 50% of the service levels were nothing more than KPIs and actually added no value.  The customer removed these from their primary contracts and no longer asked for their suppliers to report against these, which in turn led to a reduction in price.

Strong Ecosystem

The final area for the approach is to look at your sourcing model and think about your ecosystem.  The Service Integrator has to be able to manage across all the key suppliers.  How well do your suppliers work together to provide continuous improvement and bring innovation to your solutions? 

The sourcing model needs to consider what you do internally and what you outsource.  Steve says “These days more and more organisations are bringing back in-house the areas that need to be closer to the Business, e.g. development, business analysis, service integrator; and pushing more onto suppliers, e.g. infrastructure management, digital workplace.  One area that organisations grapple with is the desire to bring the Service Desk in-house but this just isn’t practical unless you are a SMB, however ensuring you have robust service integration will help ease the pain.”


The above approach is not easy and you need to be ready to take a few hits along the way.  There are areas that over his time Steve has seen jump up and bite the organisation and he has listed a few here.

Too Late

Some organisations think that they just need to make a few changes to address the growing pressures but find that it is only exacerbating the situation.  Sometimes you need a root and branch approach to look long, hard and honestly at the people, processes, technology, and suppliers that make up your IT delivery organisation.  When you look at a new operating model do not think about anyone personally just focus on what needs to be done.  Firm but fair.

Movements like DevOps are forcing us to break down the silos that have been allowed to develop, we even still refer to ‘towers’!  In a recent paper on Flexible Operating Models, Steve said that we need a radical re-think on how we organise the delivery of IT Services, creating a more fluid approach to how we organise resources to ensure that products and services are delivered in the most effective manner.

Too Prescriptive

Steve recalls “I was once asked to review a RFP for a customer and my initial feedback was that they should not include all the process definitions that they had included for the operational support (making the RFP over 150 pages long) but should simply state that the suppliers processes should align with the customer’s standards and policies and with industry best practices, and then set up a contract with the right to benchmark and audit.”  Being too prescriptive often means that your suppliers have to adapt their own ways of working which in turn can lead to them costing more than if you had accepted their processes, and in Steve’s experience the reality is they will eventually revert back to their own ways of working but you carry on paying the higher price.

The other area Steve has seen organisations fail to address properly is where they outsource the delivery of all or part of their IT Services but fail to manage the relationship and retain the wrong roles internally to enable the right management.  This invariably leads to the retained organisation man-marking the outsource provider (e.g. Change Analysis, Problem Analysis, Capacity Planning) and not providing the right level of vendor management (e.g. Contract and Performance Management).

Existing Contracts

Often the point at which we start this journey involves a number of existing contracts which are not aligned, have different terms and conditions, run for different durations, are governed differently, have little opportunity to introduce contract change  (and the supplier has no vested interest in doing this!), etc…

This is where senior management have to assert their leadership and work with the key suppliers to see this as a necessary and beneficial change, perhaps offering an extended contract term if they align agreements, particularly around collaboration and cross-functional working.

Legacy Estate

Steve says “I have too often seen commercial managers and legal teams produce what they consider to be the perfect contract that ensures that the customer would get exceptional service for an exceptional price, with the rights to credits, termination and damages built in.  However what they fail to factor in is that the technical environment does not support that service and all that will happen in reality is the supplier will claim relief whenever there is a breach”.  The service integrator is then spending time measuring and reporting information that is going to go nowhere and achieves nothing.

Whilst it is right that we seek to get the best service for the right price we need to be realistic and, in some cases, if the organisation is not prepared or able to commit to transformation investment then such contracts simply lead to a Lose:Lose situation.

Critical Success Factors

When moving to a SIAM model and/or changing the sourcing model there are a few things that Steve believes you need to get right.

Policies and Standards

Ensure that you have your policies and standards defined and that these are made available to suppliers at all times.  There are a fundamental set of policies that need to be in place covering the corporate governance, service governance and technical governance, plus those essential to remain legal and socially responsible. 

Use these policies and standards to identify the control points that you need the supplier to pass through within their processes (Steve’s Tip here is to think of these controls as the ‘rules’ within the process flow associated with the decision boxes, e.g. what are the rules to go down the YES leg or the NO leg?)


A multinational investment bank and financial services company asked iCore to review their IT services governance and as a result iCore reduced the number of controls from over 100 to 35 new / adapted controls.  This meant that the customer and the suppliers had to go through fewer formal reviews but continued to deliver effective services.

Standardise Contracts

 With the increasing need for your suppliers to form an effective ecosystem then it is essential that they are all working to similar terms and conditions with standard terminology and clauses.

This can be difficult as some of the Tier 1 suppliers insist on you (the Customer) using their agreements which fundamentally means you are buying on their terms not yours.  In today’s competitive climate I would make using your terms the start point of any tender process, particularly if you are bringing SIAM in-house.  Include backed off Service Levels; a common approach to Charges, Collaboration Rules, and Governance; and common policies and standards.


When a major airport decided to exit its incumbent single IT service provider they engaged iCore to develop a common set of requirements, contract documents, policies and standards, and governance models.  By including these in the tendering and negotiation process each supplier knew exactly what was expected and how they would be measured.  This made the selection process and the subsequent transition more straightforward, saving time and money.


Changing service providers, whether the SIAM provider or for other service streams, is not a straightforward matter is it means managing the transition of the incoming supplier and any associated transformation activities, plus the exit of the existing supplier whilst maintaining service levels, along with any related changes in your own organisation that will be impacted. 

Think about how you want this to happen, e.g. Big Bang or Phased, and who you are going to get to manage this change programme as it is probably not something that your own people have had experience of.

Consider using some external, experienced resources who have the war scars already and come armed with the sort of knowledge, templates and approaches you need to succeed.


“Be the Customer not the Buyer”

In today’s IT Services environment, having a strong service integrator is becoming an essential element of how you deliver those IT Services, and how you design and transition new / changed service components in / out of the environment.  The new SIAM capability needs to be geared towards proving a visible face of how IT is adding value to the business, through economic, effective and efficient change delivery, lifecycle performance and support.  There are some organisations that only have a SIAM capability and have nothing else that resembles an ‘IT Department’ as we would recognise it.

During the change programme you need to be prepared to get resistance and this is where leadership and communications come to play.  Having a strong message that is repeated almost as a mantra and has all the leadership backing this is essential, and at the same time manage all the key stakeholders to ensure that they get no surprises along the way.

Use good Vendor Management to ensure that relationships across the ecosystem (internal and external) are open and positive.  Map out who talks to who and when, and where necessary ensure that they have been given the message so that there is consistency and no confusion.

Finally, this takes time to move all the component parts of the system to be aligned but don’t delay unnecessarily.  One organisation that asked iCore to review its plans for a new IT Services capability had spent 2 years documenting the target operating model to the extent that we had to report that it was no longer going to be fit for purpose.

For information about iCore, please email info@icore-ltd.com or call 020 3821 1252.