September 9, 2015

How to get the best from your IT service providers

Manish Kumar

Head Offering Management & Customer Enablement Consulting, Tieto

Companies need to make good use of IT to succeed in their core businesses—to the extent that some business models, such as those of Uber, Airbnb or Amazon, are fundamentally built around IT service platforms.

Convenient or not, IT is business today, and in our effort to get the best from it, we most often end up with multiple IT service providers. In many cases, the end result is confusion and a gap between business expectations and the ability of IT to deliver.

Most often, even though all the selected IT service providers meet their obligations (SLAs or Service Level Agreements), the business is still not able to reach its objectives. This colloquially called the “Watermelon effect” – IT suppliers with Green SLAs and business stakeholders with Red faces!

So is there a way to match IT agility with the ability to meet business expectations? A way to provide the required transparency in operations? A way to have the right people accountable? A way to ensure the end-to-end success in business operations?

SIAM helps you reach business objectives

The paradigm is Service Integration and Management or SIAM – a concept that has gained immense traction in the IT services world over the past few years. It is a way to organize the IT service delivery in a better way and more aligned with business expectations. It is a way to define common ground rules for all IT service providers. It creates the much-needed transparency and visibility towards IT operations. It defines ways of determining accountability and ownership so that IT truly works as a partner for business management. In a way, it lays the foundation for a successful marriage of IT to business.

As we can imagine, companies have tried and piloted multiple forms of SIAM setups where at one extreme, this role is taken up by corporate IT or at the other, completely outsourced. Over time, however, we have all learned and realized that there should be a way to implement “Sustainable SIAM” – a more sustainable long-term solution.

This setup suggests a Prime Service Provider (PSP) that together with the corporate IT jointly owns the SIAM responsibility. The roles and expectations on the processes that would be front-ended by the PSP and the ones performed by corporate IT are predefined. Working together, in-house IT and the PSP as a duo define the rules of engagement and the obligations of dependent IT service providers to meet the overall business objectives.

Partnering and small steps towards success

The setup sounds simpler than it actually is. In reality, we need to take small steps to get there and realize the true potential of Sustainable SIAM. It is a good idea to start with setting up some core processes and then expanding the scope as we gain ground and confidence. It is equally important to align SIAM with the business processes the service is expected to support to enable business to see tangible benefits early enough. Getting the initial stage right is critical to building positive momentum for a full-fledged SIAM delivery, and having the right partner in the PSP role to help coach and guide you in the process is essential.

To conclude, let’s remember one important fact that we all kind of know: the complexity of IT services is not going to disappear, it will only increase with time. Our only assurance of future success is to create the correct ground rules and a sustainable service management model. This model helps us manage demand fluctuations better and get the best from our IT service providers.

Please read more about our approach at www.tieto.com/SIAM.

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