Agile SIAM

Following his fantastic presentation at the itSMF Ireland conference; Dave Van Herpen has written a follow up article for us on Agile SIAM:

Dave VH

In my daily practice I rarely encounter an organisation which does NOT show an unstoppable hunger for agility and customer value at an optimal cost/quality ratio. Time-to-market is under constant pressure, users are getting more demanding and serious cost reductions incite standardisation of services and components. The adoption of cloud services seems like a logical consequence for many organisation, as well as the emergence of complex multi-vendor service landscapes. This demands for an agile, fit-for-purpose demand/supply organisation, continuously provisioning suitable solutions to dynamic business requirements.


The organisational function managing this multi-vendor landscape is increasingly called the SIAM function (Service Integration And Management). This is where management of demand and supply converges. A set of roles, resonsibilities, processes and competences ensures an adequate orchestration of multi-vendor chains and realisation of the required value.

There are several ways to shape this function (internal or outsourced):

– Customer takes up Service Integrator (SI) role

– Major service provider takes up SI role

– SI role is outsourced to a dedicated SI

– Customer partly takes up SI role, together with external SI


Over the past few months a lot has been said and written on the distinct relevance of SIAM. Some may claim it’s a hoax, others approach it from the process and framework point of view and say it has very distinct additions to ITIL and COBIT, and I’ve seen statements that it’s not about a specific framework but rather an organisational capability and set of useful practices to manage complex multi-vendor landscapes. In my view, I consider SIAM to be very useful and appealing container for sharing organisational practices, case studies and practical instruments to deal with demand-supply in complex multi-vendor environments, including cloud services. There. I said it.

Agile & Lean

Dealing with complexity in service chains requires an approach which fits the dynamics and unpredictability of such environments. Any organisation designing a SIAM function along traditional (best practice) ways of working, will lack the ability to cope with continuously changing and unpredictable customer demands and environmental factors. Integration and adoption of Agile, Lean and TOC principles, methods and instruments provides organisations with the ability to face all this. Instruments such as Value Stream Mapping and Business KPIs provide insight into the multi-vendor chain, define shared goals and interdependencies, and enable the different parties to identify and prioritise opportunities for optimization, eg. lead time optimisation or unnecessary process steps. In addition, actively working on Agile behaviour across the entire value chain encourages multidisciplinary teams, peer reviews between suppliers or Agile contracts and service agreements.

Agile SIAM – short case description

A logistic services provider expressed a growing need to free up their own IT people for the benefit of user support, analysis and validation. In other words, more focus on identifying and orchestrating the delivery of value. Executing and operating IT was seen as something in which third parties would be far more efficiënt and effective. This is why the decision was made to grow towards an orchestration function, in which managing and coordinating suppliers remained a relevant responsibility. This customer chose to have the full service integration efforts done by an external service integrator. Nevertheless, particularly at the start of this transition, lead times of incidents and changes were quite unacceptable. Issues spanning multiple suppliers brought a lot of delays and frustrations. One of the most visible instruments delivering positive effects, turned out to be the integrated Value Stream Mapping workshops with the primary suppliers in the relevant business chains. During these practical sessions representatives of all parties jointly analysed the entire stream of consecutive activities. Waiting times, non-value-added tasks, overproduction (e.g. of documentation) and other waste reduction and optimisation opportunities have been identified. After this, shared Improvement Backlogs were the basis for realisation and follow-up of these desired optimisations. This resulted not only in more effective multi-vendor chains, but moreover in visible awareness and behavioural change an nearly all parties regarding more transparant collaboration and a holistic approach to continuous improvement.

The Cloud

Cloud specific service and delivery characteristics require different demands in designing and executing service management processes. Although the composition of the landscape defines the scope and depth of the associated processes and activities, the NIST has put together an applicable set of guidelines regarding service management in cloud environments.


Source: NIST Cloud Reference Architecture (

Although this shows little resemblance to ITIL, SIAM or COBIT terminology, I find this a useful overview of the most dominant activityclusters in cloud-dominant landscapes: supporting the business/users, configuration and on-demand provisioning, portabilitity and interoperability. However, the average multi-vendor environment does not consist of cloud services alone. All too often, I see hybrid environments, where cloud (SaaS, PaaS, IaaS), in private or public form, converge with outsourcing services, software licences and staffing services. Using multiple approaches and frameworks is undesired and unlogical, this would only introduce silos and unnecessary hand-offs in the delivery chains. Enriching existing approaches, which also embrace non-cloud environments, is far more natural in practice.

Adaptations our team has introduced include:

– Incident and event management: supporting self-service models, social service desks.

– Capacity and availability management: financial model in line with changing capacity needs

(dynamic sizing), measuring/monitoring customer experience journeys.

– Financial management: metering/pay per use, automated charging for dynamic sizing

– Change and release management: changing focus of Change Advisory Boards, user

communities, SaaS subscriptions (opex) under change management, solid risk analysis by

multiple roles (e.g. architecture, security)


A transformation from the current IT organisation towards a SIAM function, irrespective of the actual organisational and sourcing model, but where an agile mindset and cloud-readiness are second nature, preferrably takes place in an incremental and iterative way. Critical success factors for such a transformation consist of:

– explicit focus on value

– holistic view on continuous improvement

– adaptivity of the organisation, processes and technology

– a sound balance between demand and supply (speed, maturity, collaboration)

– enabling multidisciplinary teams across organisational borders

– fit-for-purpose tooling for sharing knowledge, progress and job automation

Agile SIAM will give the modern service delivery organisation a more flexible set of instruments and means in order to effectively utilise and manage complex multi-vendor service chains.

Anti-extremist disclaimer

The practices mentioned above are a representation of several assignment I and my colleagues have carried out at several (inter)national customers. These clients range from small companies with lean IT functions, to multinational organizations with complex governance structures. I do not mean to promote a single method, a one-size-fits-all approach. In fact, if there’s one thing my experience in Agile environments has taught me, it is that context is king. The practices above have helped us and our customers greatly to improve their mindset and actual daily work practices, including those of the suppliers and integrators involved. If you think there is some value in here, please do experiment with it in your multi-vendor environment. All I did was apply common sense and service thinking to complex, dynamic environments. That’s what I do.

2 thoughts on “Agile SIAM”

  1. awsome article concise modern and pratical. Well done. Pls could you explain what is Nits and Toc and the stream mapping methodology? Many thanks again for sharing this.
    Ingrid Fay – Service Integration Director at Oakton in Perth, Western Australia.

    1. Ingrid,

      Don’t know if you received a reply on this but just in case; TOC is Theory of Constraints which describes the need to consider value streams end to end in order to ensure that improving flow at one point does not apply constraints through bottleneck at another. NIST is the National Institute for Standards and Technology. For more on TOC see Goldratt’s book, The Goal.

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