ITSM Crowd 30 – the SIAM Sessions

The ITSM Crowd hangouts from ITSM Zone

In the latest episode of the ITSM Crowd we talked about the IT management hot topic for 2017 – service integration and management, or SIAM.

Get ready for March

SIAM has been developing as a management practice for many years, with companies like Atos, BAE, TCS and HPE all leading the way.  Recognising the growing demand for SIAM knowledge and training, three companies have grouped together to create a new SIAM training and certification program. Those companies are EXIN, BCS and Scopism.

Scopism has created the SIAM Foundation Body of Knowledge, available for free download.  EXIN and BCS have developed the SIAM Foundation certification scheme, which will be available from training companies around the world from March 1st.  Here at ITSM Zone we’re working hard to get our SIAM course ready, so watch this space for further announcements.

The Panel

We were joined in this episode by Michelle Major-Goldsmith, Simon Dorst, Steve Morgan and Kevin Holland.  All four panel members were part of the architect group for the Scopism Foundation Body of Knowledge, so we discussed:

  • What SIAM is
  • Why it’s important
  • The background to SIAM training
  • SIAM stories and hints

Enjoy the episode, and see you on the next ITSM Crowd!

Want to be a Guest?

If you’ve got a hot topic, new idea or a story you’d like to share on the ITSM Crowd, get in touch.  We’d love to hear from you.

Not a fan of video? Read the full transcript of the session here.

The word Claire in a speech bubble

Hi everyone and welcome to episode 30 of the ITSM Crowd, today our topic is the SIAM Sessions.  We are going to be talking about the service integration and management which is something that we’ve touched on before we’ve got the queen of SIAM with us today, Michelle Major-Goldsmith. We’re going to look at it in a bit more detail and just talk about somethings that are happening in the industry as well. So, the first thing I am going to do is ask our panel to introduce themselves, so working from left to right on my screen Michelle if you want to kick us off first please.

Michelle in a bubble

Yes, hi Claire, Michelle Major-Goldsmith as Claire has said, I’m a Service Management Trainer and Consultant. I’ve been in the industry for longer than I care to remember.  More latterly I’m actually based in Australia working for Kinetic IT which is a managed services and training organisation.  I’ve been involved with Claire and the rest of the guys on the call here in the creation of SIAM Foundation Body of Knowledge, so we’ll be looking forward to talking a bit about that today.

The word Claire in a speech bubble

Thank you very much, Simon?

Simon in a bubble

Yes, Simon Dorst also from Perth in summery and sunny Australia work with Michelle on the Service Management Services with Kinetic IT.  I’ve heard a lot about SIAM being supposed to be common sense but find a lot of our clients are wondering what SIAM and what it was.  So, I got involved in writing the Body of Knowledge and I am really excited about all the new and additional and other exciting common-sense stuff that SIAM has to offer.

The word Claire in a speech bubble

Thank you very much and Kevin, Kevin’s new to the ITSM Crowd, so say hello Kevin?

Kevin in a bubble

Hi, Kevin Holland I’m from England, Yorkshire the North of England.  I’m a Consultant, cut me in half and you’ll find SIAM running all the way down the middle.  I’ve been working for the last 12 years on probably one of the largest SIAM implementations definitely in Europe and possibly the world.  Integrated lots of service providers for the NHS in the UK, very happy with Claire asking me to come and join the architect team for the Body of Knowledge and also been Chief Examiner for EXIN working on exam questions.   I’m loving SIAM I think that’s one the best things that’s been going for quite a while.

The word Claire in a speech bubble

Lovely, thank you Steve?

Steve in a bubble

Hi good morning everyone I’m Steve Morgan I run a SIAM Consulting organisation called Syniad IT.  We’ve been doing quite a few SIAM programmes recently and I’ve also been involved along with the rest of the guys on the call here with the Body of Knowledge and like Kev I’ve been writing exam questions, but I’ve been learning how to do it.  It’s not a skill that came easily but I think I got there eventually.  So, yes good to be on the call looking forward to talking about SIAM this morning and sharing some views with the rest of the guys.

The word Claire in a speech bubble

Fantastic thank you very much.  And my name’s Claire, I guess none of us have got a hang out tool box this morning, so we can’t put our names on the screen, I’m the lead tutor for ITSM zone we will shortly be offering SIAM training.  And also, this morning if you’ve got any questions that you want our panel to answer you can put them on Twitter using the #itsmcrowd.  We’ll keep an eye on Twitter during this hang out so if there are any questions that you want to ask if there’s anything particular about SIAM that you want addressing then we’ll have an eye out for that and we’ll answer those questions.  So, the first thing I wanted to just cover this morning is really what is SIAM and I guess more importantly why should people care. So, maybe Steve if you could kick us off with that one?

Steve in a bubble

Oh well, we could be here all morning talking what is SIAM. 

The word Claire in a speech bubble

No, we won’t.

Steve in a bubble

So, let’s start with some basic building blocks that we can all agree on, so organisations are moving away from the big monolithic sourcing deals that we all know and love.  They’re moving to multi-vendor models where they can be more agile, they can leverage best practice from service providers, the can leverage best value, best service and that means they end up with quite a complex delivery model for their IT services.  And all that SIAM is, is bringing together the various elements of each of those services to form a coherent service to not only IT but more importantly to the business.  I’ll leave it really generic at that for now and we’ll let someone else put some detail on the bones of that.

The word Claire in a speech bubble

Okay, so for the rest of the panel I think Steve’s been fairly non-controversial there, why should people care about SIAM, why is it relevant?

Simon in a bubble

I think one of the things that people find is that the traditional frameworks or methodologies or whatever you want to call it, organisations struggle to put them in place and get the most benefit out of them.  And I think what SIAM adds is in this multi-provider multi-framework environment to actually offer some organisational structure, so it’s beyond just processes and activities.  It really provides a structure that can be put in the organisation and then choose the various frameworks or different providers and get benefits.  So, I think that’s something that people are looking for more than just methodology or a framework, a structure that can help them.

The word Claire in a speech bubble

So, something a bit practical that they can start to put in place?

Michelle in a bubble

To add to what Simon just said – it’s great because we’re talking more about functions and not just processes. But I also think one of the other key things is the governance structures that are put into place just to give those controls so that the customer has you know a degree of confidence that they’re going to get good value for those suppliers.  I think in the past we’ve had a situation where the supplier management elements and the various parts of that have been a quite a difficult overhead for the customer.  So, I think what SIAM does is provide that controlling mechanism allowing the customer to concentrate more on their core business and I think that’s sort of a business benefit.

The word Claire in a speech bubble

Yes, and perhaps we can just dig into that a little bit deeper in terms of the business benefits, what sort of problems does SIAM fix for organisations?

Kevin in a bubble

The biggest one for me Claire is actually getting a lot of different service providers to work together.  We’ve all used different service providers for years, you’ve used sub-contractors.  But when you get to SIAM delivery of end to end process relies on all their processes integrating together.  And just think of a real example, we all know what an incident is, you need to pass incidents from one service provider to another. The user just has something that doesn’t work, so you pass it to somebody first of all they have a look, they can’t find what’s causing it, so you need to pass it to somebody else.   How are you going to do that unless you’ve got (a) a common language, so you agree what the incident problem is, okay we used to do that with ITIL (b) what severity are you calling it, what priority.  If all the different providers have different priorities, I think it’s a priority 1, you think it’s a priority 3 that end to end process doesn’t work.  So, one of the big things about SIAM for me is thinking about those standards with a small s.  Information and data flow standards that you need to have and then brokered by the service integrator who ties all this together agreeing on what that common standard is when you need information to flow from one provider to another. 

The word Claire in a speech bubble

Yes, and I think that’s one of the big benefits of SIAM is you don’t have lots of individual service providers working in silos, you’ve actually got something that encourages them to work together and focus on the customers outcomes and the business outcomes rather than “well I met my SLA targets”.  And something that kept coming up when we were talking about the Foundation Body of Knowledge for SIAM is the watermelon effect which seems to be quite a common expression at the moment where you’ve got a service provider who reports everything green on the outside but it’s red on the inside like a watermelon.   Because the customer is actually not happy, service providers are meeting their targets, so they think they’re doing a good job but if the customer is not happy then you know something’s kind of wrong.  So, the reason we’re talking about SIAM particularly today is because within the industry recently there has been a training and certification programme launched.  Scopism in which the company I’m involved with, the British Computer Society and EXIN who are both examination institutes have collaborated, and we’ve created a SIAM Foundation Training Course.  There’s going to be a global exam that goes with it that launches on March 1st and supporting that is the SIAM Foundation Body of Knowledge which is a document that you can download today for free from Scopism.com.  And everybody who is on the call plus a lot of other people from many, many different companies were involved in developing the Body of Knowledge so maybe one of you can tell us a little bit more about that process.  How you feel it’s gone, who you think the Body of Knowledge is for that would be great.

Steve in a bubble

I think we’re all gagging to do so Claire, so I’ll kick off.  Of all the things that I’ve been involved in professionally I think this ranks as one of the things that I’m most proud of.  And I’ve been in this industry 30 years now.  The collaboration between the subject matter experts and I’ll use the term loosely for us all on the call and everybody else.  But guys have that actually done this and been there and felt it and been involved in the delivery of programmes around SIAM it has been an amazing experience.  The quality of what we’ve produced is absolutely fantastic I’ve read lots of SIAM books only to be ultimately disappointed.  And I think this just surpasses anything that the industry have seen before in what’s been produced because of the broad nature of where it’s been drawn from.  So, yes and it’s free and it’s absolutely brilliant, so go and download it today everybody, it is absolutely fantastic.

Kevin in a bubble

If I just add to that as well, the great thing for me was the challenge from each other, particularly you who were on this call as well.  You know we’ve all got a different view about SIAM and we all think we’re right because that’s the kind of people we are.  But in the process where an author would write something and then a second author who would help contribute but then the key thing was every member of the architect group then would review that and have the opportunity to say I don’t agree with that, here’s a different perspective.  And I learnt so much through this the different ways that you can apply SIAM in the different situations and that’s a big thing about SIAM it’s not one size fits all it never can be.  But that whole challenge process for me has made this a very open, rounded body of knowledge that isn’t prescriptive it gives lots of you could do this or you could this or you might see this.  And that’s the real strength for me, it’s that richness of the information.

Michelle in a bubble

I think that really comes through in the Body of Knowledge itself, I mean if we look at how it’s put together it’s not a rose-tinted view of the world, it’s very much an acknowledgement that as you know as Kevin has just said one size does not fit all.  And I think the benefit really is that it identifies the challenges that organisations would face when trying to implement a structure.  You know as we’re telling within the Body of Knowledge, so that for me was one of the most fantastic things is the fact that it isn’t assuming that the world is easy.  And the pragmatic approach the guidance and all of those kinds of things I think make it as we’ve said such a fantastic document.

Simon in a bubble

I think it’s also a great starting point because as people have already said there are different ways of doing SIAM and there’s different opinions amongst the experts and as mentioned in discussions there.  But also, different ideas that the customer has regarding what SIAM is and I think this foundation Body of Knowledge really allows us to kind of start from a steady base where we have the main starting point and we can develop more practical guidance and white papers and all kinds of other stuff to build on it in all kinds of various ways.  That was kind of missing last year or before that where there was no uniform way of looking at SIAM and I know I’ve had various discussions with different customers and everyone seemed to be thinking something different or not knowing.  So, it was a great experience amongst us, but I think that the Body of Knowledge that came out of it is a great outcome as a starting point. 

The word Claire in a speech bubble

Yes, and I think that was an interesting development for me because it initially the Body of Knowledge that I anticipated as writing was the complete SIAM Body of Knowledge.  But as the discussions within the architect group progressed it became very clear that there are a distinct set of principles that we could codify for SIAM to say this is what the basis of SIAM is.  But then once you start to work within an organisation there are so many things that can be done differently roles and responsibilities can be assigned differently.  So, what we’ve ended up with in the foundation Body of Knowledge is this is the basis it’s not going to tell you this is exactly what you need to do in your organisation but it’s going to give you a basis to start those conversations from.  And later on, this year we’ll be developing material to support the next level of SIAM training which will be SIAM professional.  And I think there we will have more chance to address the more ambiguous bits of SIAM so, how do you decide what the service integrator is going to do and what the customer is going to keep themselves.  How do you design a SIAM contract, there’s more detail I think but that’s where it become ambiguous so in the foundation Body of Knowledge the terminology is there the structures are there, we’ve addressed some of the challenges.  And then that’s going to be a brilliant opportunity to build on that and when we get to professional I think there will be less black and white I think a lot more ambiguity but that still needs to be addressed and we can still discuss that.  So, the SIAM training is going to launch on March 1st and EXIN and BCS have been doing webinars and there was a really good global interest in the webinars that we did last week.  From your perspective as SIAM practitioners and people who are working in the SIAM world day to day how do you think training is going to help the industry as a whole?

Steve in a bubble

I think it will help get that broad level of understanding, you remember sort of 20 years ago I guess probably was 20 years ago ITIL Foundation came along and gave everybody a common language. I think the issue that we have in the industry at the moment is that service providers themselves don’t have a common understanding of what SIAM is.  So, they get an RFP in and they try to cobble together a response based on what they think the customer wants.  The customer could then misinterpret that answer, the customer and the industry themselves don’t always know they want either.  So, they don’t know how to articulate it and then we’ve also then got the end users who are trying to consume this service and they don’t always necessarily know what they want from the business.  So, I think we’re a little bit of perfect storm at the moment.  So, I expect that the SIAM Foundation will help both service providers, IT retained organisation and also the business at a senior level.  People like Finance Directors, Programme Managers those kind of commercial supplier managers to really get a clear focus on what SIAM is because it’s a hell of a lot more than ITIL.  And it extends way beyond IT Service Management.  So those guys could then get that common knowledge and I think it will help the industry at large progress and that’s why I have been so enthusiastic about getting these exam questions written.  Because I think it will be great to get that Foundation Certificate out there and get some people who have got that common knowledge and they don’t just glaze over when you hear the word SIAM and start sort of making things up as they go along. 

Simon in a bubble

I think the challenge for the training is not just the common language but again those options and steps we have in the Body of Knowledge.  So, create an awareness about people about what they’re kind of doing with SIAM.  So, there’s a real role here for the education organisations to make sure that they explain all the various options and things that are involved in creating the system or building it.  So that people walk away whether they’re providers or customers with a good understanding “okay this is what this means, this is what I’ve started on”. 

Kevin in a bubble

Well for me Claire I think the advantage is really the customers who are thinking about going to SIAM.  There are an increasing number of people who will sell you SIAM services and come in and do your SIAM design but you’re going to get one of their views.  So typically, an organisation will say “I want to do SIAM” they go out to tender, they get someone in the SIAM, the service integrator, someone to help with them it.  And you get their view of what SIAM is which may or may not be -right for that organisation.  Customers are now going to really understand what SIAM is about, which means they can make a far better choice, is SIAM right for them at all?  I know of organisations who have done it and actually they probably didn’t really need it.  But they can then be informed, go and make an informed decision, they still need help to get to do it probably, but at least they’re doing that with knowledge and information. 

The word Claire in a speech bubble

Yes, and I think this was one of the conversations we had very early on in the architect group was is SIAM actually mature enough to go through this exercise, to write a Foundation Body of Knowledge?  To train people, has SIAM reached a point where this was actually possible because a lot of the development of SIAM has been done by the companies that are offering service integrator services.   So, you know people like yourself Steve, Kinetic, we had Atos in the group, we had TATA Consultancy, Sopra Steria etc.  We had BAE involved as well later on in the development, but because each of those companies is creating a service in effect that they want to sell, each one of them is developing their own version and there isn’t really much opportunity for them to discuss with each other because that’s their intellectual property and they want to keep hold of it.  So, what was really nice for me was how open and how willing each of the companies that was involved was to share how they work and what they’re doing.  And that’s where you do get this kind of, this common perspective.  And you know from what you’re saying Kev this will benefit customers absolutely, but it was interesting one of the companies that was involved was saying they couldn’t wait to train their sales people because they had sales people out there selling SIAM without really understanding what SIAM is.  And I think that’s probably something that we’ve all experienced.  

Steve in a bubble

No, that would never happen Claire, surely?

The word Claire in a speech bubble

We’ve heard of this thing called SIAM and you definitely, definitely need it. 

Steve in a bubble

And it’s a million dollars. 

The word Claire in a speech bubble

It’s been interesting for me as well to see that SIAM is now very global, I mean we had Michelle and Simon, we had yourselves from the Australia market, it’s becoming quite the hot topic in New Zealand.  It’s very popular in Europe, America is the one place that SIAM doesn’t seem to have a particular level of maturity at the moment.  Do you think that this is going to spread to the American market?

Steve in a bubble

Yes, I absolutely think it will it’s probably just not been invented there yet.  I’m seeing a bit of interest actually because one of my customers is a global customer based out of Houston in Texas and they are just about to embark on a SIAM model they’ve had their model designed out of the London office and we’re gradually educating the guys out in US.  So, I think the challenges are exactly the same, I think the sourcing challenges that we’ve just explained earlier on, I think the customer demands are the same.  The service provider market has just taken a little bit longer to catch up.  Absolutely happening everywhere.

The word Claire in a speech bubble

Yes, and I think to a certain extent SIAM will almost be like a lot of the other management practices in the industry in that once people read about it, they’ll say oh I’ve been doing that, or we’ve been trying to do that. It’s just common sense, you think well yes, a little bit.  So, like always on the ITSM Crowd try and share some practical experiences with people as well, so we’ve been talking about SIAM you know where to go and get the Body of Knowledge now from the Scopism.com website.  The last thing I am going to ask you to do as a panel is share some of your experiences whether that’s SIAM that has been done well or badly and I’ll kick off because going back quite a few years now I worked with Kevin on the NHS Connecting for Health programme. Which at the time was trying to get some very, very big service providers to work together and we did somethings really, really well.  We had a combined change management board, we had excellent incident management across the services providers.  But on the commercial side of things perhaps, you could say it didn’t go as well and we actually did have at least one service provider who just dropped out of the model, because it wasn’t financially viable for them.  So that was a very interesting contract for me to be involved in, but the rest of the panel have you got any brilliant example of SIAM or any horror stories you want to share?

Simon in a bubble

I’m not sure it’s a horror story but…I think some of our customers see it as an extra process and they approach it as a different way of doing process management, end to end process management.  And I think that’s the wrong way if you don’t get that what Michelle talked about the governance and the business outcomes right from the start into your SIAM model then I think eventually you’re going to find the exact same issues as they’ve got today.  So that’s a horror story that I’ve seen with some my clients.

The word Claire in a speech bubble

Yes, and that’s certainly something again that we discussed when we were developing the Body of Knowledge. Should we be doing ITIL or should we be doing SIAM and that really is the wrong question.  There’s a lot of management good practice available now and I think particularly for people who are working as Consultants, as advisors, as Service Management professionals you shouldn’t be saying “well I do ITIL or I do SIAM, or I do DEVOPS”.    You should be saying “I’m aware of all of these things and this is what I can recommend in this instance”, so yes, I would agree with that.

Kevin in a bubble

Do you want to know the secret magic bullet for SIAM? Beer. Slightly tongue in cheek but actually successful SIAM is all about building really strong working relationships across everybody.  To the extent that you know each other personally, I don’t mean everybody in every organisation but the process owners, the senior people who should be able to go out and party together.  That’s they enjoy their company and get to know each other really well, that’s the secret to successful SIAM.  Yes, you’ve got processes, yes, you’ve got all that really boring stuff, but actually it’s about building strong relationships because just like in service management generally, it’s the relationships that make it work. 

Steve in a bubble

Couldn’t agree more Kev I think that’s really good advice and certainly born out in my experience as well.  I think from my perspective the thing that made me put my head in my hands Claire was when I went to see a customer who was just to sign all their sourcing contracts for their multi-vendor arrangements and I said what you are doing about the retained organisation.  How are all these vendors going to be managed and they said “oh I don’t know, hadn’t really thought about that”.  And staff were leaving because they were really unsettled, and they didn’t know what the future held.  So, my advice would be before you begin on your SIAM programme, begin with the end in mind as Mr Covey would say.  And write your design, write your operating model and what it’s going to look like first and then embark upon it and gradually transition through it. 

The word Claire in a speech bubble

Yes, and this was another thing that came out really strongly for me as we were developing the Body of Knowledge is that like so many other things that we do with IT, SIAM is an organisational change and if you don’t do the planning, if you don’t do the organisational change management it will fail. Just like ITIL, just like DEVOPS, just like Agile, just like Lean IT.  There is a massive element of organisational change management here and I think sometimes that’s the bit we forget or rush to adopt something new and to deliver more value.  People do these things with genuine motivation, but you know it’s important to look at why you’re doing SIAM and how you are going to do it, so that you don’t end up with any little incidents like that one Steve that sounds quite interesting. 

Steve in a bubble

We’re very happy to go on tour as well Simon if you need us to come over and do it it’s not trouble at all, I’ll pay my own airfare.

The word Claire in a speech bubble

Okay, so all that remains for me is to say thank you very much to Michelle, Simon and Steve thank you for joining us and Kevin as well, thank you for joining us and sharing you expertise with us today and yes go download the Body of Knowledge and let us know what you think.  Everybody’s feedback is very welcome.  Thank you everyone. 

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