February 24, 2016

Escalation in a SIAM framework based on business priorities

Eija Laamanen

Lead Product Manager, Tieto

In a traditional ITIL framework, escalation paths are well defined, at least for incident management. In the SIAM model, escalation takes place at various levels from operational to strategic, each requiring slightly different approaches. Eija Laamanen sheds light on how it works.

Escalation basics

In a nutshell, escalation simply means ensuring that unresolved issues are clearly addressed and solved according to the service levels agreed between the company and its service provider. The routes that escalation follows are well defined in the traditional ITIL framework.

While Tieto Sustainable SIAM builds on ITIL processes and best practices, these mostly address daily operational level escalations. A wider context, such as SIAM, requires more complex escalation management, as there may be up to hundreds of vendors providing services for the customer company within the extended enterprise.

Escalation in SIAM

Escalation management in SIAM is about plans, processes and practices how escalation is done. Companies expect that the IT service providers handle escalations proactively instead of only when the company reacts to an anomaly.

Here I will focus mainly on the operational and tactical levels, because it is not uncommon that companies retain and drive strategic SIAM functions such as demand management, contract management, chargeback and showback.

The expectation is that the SIAM Service Provider takes escalation responsibility towards all service providers. The practices between customer, SIAM provider and other service providers are typically included in OLA agreements and all parties are committed to following the rules.

Escalation rules and paths should be based on the business criticality of the process. Also, the tools used in escalation should first and foremost take into account business criticality.  One practical example is that the SIAM service provider monitoring the supplier network makes a phone call to a service provider’s contact person if it appears that the SLA of a business critical application is in danger to be breached. In contrast, an email might be enough in a less business critical case.

Clearly agreed escalation criteria the keys to success

While every provider has internal escalation rules, in the SIAM world the rules should expand to encompass the entire provider network. The SIAM service provider is responsible for establishing the rules for hierarchical escalation in a way that every provider can follow. On the other hand, the rules must be such that every provider can abide by them.

The most important thing to take into account is that the rulebook is agreed on when the service is established. Nobody likes it if the rules change in the middle of the game.

The primary objective of the SIAM model is to create businessbenefits to the SIAM customer. This can only be achieved if a number of issues are addressed from the start:

  • How to ensure business SLAs are kept
  • What issues should be escalated to keep SLAs
  • Proactive SLA monitoring, responsibilities and alarm levels
  • Definition and mandate to initiate activities
  • Definition of corrective actions

The SIAM service provider proactively follows that the criteria are fulfilled. The providers in the network, for their part, need to respond in a way that allows the SIAM service provider – and, ultimately, your company – to know what actually is happening. For example, an autoreply to an escalation email will not tell much, the provider should detail how the issue is being addressed.

Monitoring compliance

At a tactical level, SLA and OLA compliance should be reviewed regularly. Criteria should be changed if it seems the present ones do not serve your company as intended.

Note also that SLA can be set to the SIAM service provider to measure that escalation management is done as agreed. The SIAM service provider’s role also includes presenting SLA breaches towards the customer to the service providers. The same rules are applied also in case the SIAM service provider is also the service provider for one or more service towers.

If your company has given the SIAM service provider the mandate, and if service providers have accepted it, the SIAM service provider can also implement penalties. That said, we must keep in mind that commercial issues are usually something that your company and the service providers handle between themselves.  This is why penalties and credits are a sensitive area and must be handled case by case.

Finally, everyone involved in a SIAM network should remember the basic rule of SIAM: collaboration and openness are the fundamental building blocks on which a successful partnership can be built. Take this into account also when dealing with escalation management procedures.

To find out more about Tieto Sustainable SIAM, read our white paper at www.tieto.com/SIAMor have a look at the insights below.

How to get the best from your IT service providers

SIAM – a passing trend or here to stay?

How to bring business closer to IT services? 

What will change with SIAM, what will remain the same?

How to get started with SIAM and what is its budget impact?

Right tooling ensures SIAM success

SIAM Governance is a joint effort

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