Friday, 28 October 2016

SIAM: The Key Lessons

Next week Martin Goble and I will be speaking about SIAM from the Frontlines at Fusion 16

I spent ages handcrafting a blog to support the session, but since it doesn't seem to have made the grade for inclusion on the Fusion site for some reason, here it is for everyone to enjoy:

SIAM, Service Integration and Management, has become the default sourcing strategy in many parts of the world. It can transform the way IT services are delivered. Yet it remains poorly understood and not all moves to a SIAM model have delivered the expected benefits.

So what is SIAM, and what distinguishes the successful approaches?

SIAM developed as a response to experience with traditional sourcing models, such as prime vendor, best of breed and outsourcing to a single vendor. Whilst these models remain viable options they can also lead to:

  • The watermelon effect where individual vendors achieve contractual targets but overall service satisfaction is low
  • A lack of flexibility and innovation
  • High transaction costs with a wasteful  management overhead
SIAM begins with identifying the desired end to end (E2E) outcomes and then constructs a contractual and managerial framework to achieve those outcomes.

A useful working definition of SIAM is:

“The vertical and horizontal coordination of
people, processes, tools, technology, data and governance
across multiple suppliers,
 to ensure efficient, predictable and flexible delivery of
end-to-end services to the business user to maximize business value

This can be achieved in many ways, but a common approach is for the internal IT department to establish a Service Integration team that calls upon resources from one of its strategic suppliers as well as internal resources.

Risk and Reward

Working with strategic suppliers who are willing to commit to those outcomes and share the risk of not achieving them is key to SIAM. In return for that commitment suppliers need the freedom to innovate and optimise their services. A common failing is to expect suppliers to sign up to the delivery of business outcomes and risk and reward models that are incompatible with the detailed contractual terms specifying how their services are to be delivered.

The approach to the contractual framework has to be realistic and appropriate to where suppliers are in the value network. Unlike traditional sourcing models, a vital element of SIAM is that value network perspective, in which all suppliers are seen not just in terms of their own encapsulated responsibilities, but in terms of how they work in combination to achieve mutually beneficial outcomes.

Commodity IT

Commercial realities have to be taken into account and this is particularly the case when sourcing commodity services. The advantages that SIAM provides in these areas, particularly the plug and play approach of constant competition between commodity suppliers to provide dynamic capacity comes at the cost of having limited control over the services levels they provide. Unfortunately, many organisations have adopted SIAM after signing up to cloud services that have very limited service levels and expect SIAM to fix this by re-negotiating the contract. This is rarely feasible.

Internal Integration

Although much of SIAM thinking developed from a perceived need to make external suppliers "play ball together" it is clear that SIAM needs to embrace integration across enterprise IT and IT in the Business. That integration also needs to be orchestrated across the service lifecycle. Whilst ITIL provides a useful foundation for SIAM it is only part of the overall SIAM capability that an organisation needs to consider, along with programme management, security, architecture and transformation.

Governance and Change

Because of the scope of SIAM it is obviously important to recognise that changing to the model has itself to be a long term strategic transformational activity. That in turn requires strong governance, clear responsibilities and a commitment to organisational change management if it is to be successful.

And to end where we began, that success has to be judged in terms of business outcomes, not improvements with the IT department that are never passed to the business. Getting business buy in to the new approach requires the senior IT team to build a robust business case based on tangible improvements.

Thursday, 31 December 2015

Hens Teeth, it is nearly 2016

This has been my quietest ever year for blogging. Partly that is because of how I use the Back2ITSM Facebook group, partly it is because a lot of things have been happening in the day job, with a restructuring and a new role. On top of that we've moved house to the other side of the country, downsizing in response to the children being thrown out leaving home.

Oh, and I also started building a railway.

Looking back on my predictions for 2015 I think I did rather well. Well sort of of.

People will realise that not every one claiming to be a SIAM expert is what they seem

I certainly saw some evidence of this during the year. There are still people out there claiming expertise who are still purely theoretical, who are extrapolating universal truths from a single experience of "implementing" SIAM, and who have no operational experience in the area.

I'm glad to say that at conferences at least audiences seem more able to distinguish those speakers who have coal face experience.

 People will start talking about "SIAM and...

Well they did if they spent any time in the same room as me. There is a slowly dawning recognition that SIAM needs to be considered in context of other developments and approaches, not just being bolted on or left to take its chances in a battle of the frameworks, 

....buzzword of choice

It really was a no-brainer to suggest that this would primarily be DevOps. However from a personal perspective it was CX/UX  that I found myself talking about the most.

People will start talking about having a career structure in ITSM again.

Well I'm hearing good things about the new practitioner qualification 

A conference that breaks the boundaries by including  ITSM, project managers and architects

Well, you can't win em all.

So what of 2016?

The Unfortunate Rise of Paint by Numbers SIAM

This has become more and more apparent at conferences this year. There are a group of people out there who have yet to grasp just how hard SIAM is, and that they lack the fundamental skills to make it work. They believe that all you need to make it effective is a new organisation, some process guides and refreshed job descriptions, despite their long track record of failing to get the basics right. They will be pandered to by the new breed of instant experts in SIAM.

Fortunately this will be balanced by...
Second Generation SIAM

Many of the initial SIAM  contracts are coming up for renewal, A lot of lessons have been learned, and a lot of changes have been made. Expect a lot of action in this space, with a lot of incumbent SIAM partners becoming undeserving sacrificial victims of poorly thought through first generation deals. 

The Death of Process Centricity

For a long time now I've been arguing that whilst the core content  and intent of ITIL might still be relevant the way we build ITSM solutions and how we expect users to interact with them is fundamentally flawed.

Too many people still think:

- You can design processes in isolation
- Everything is a process
- If the process conforms to ITIL then it is fit for purpose
- Adopt and adapt means we can claim it conforms to ITIL  even it doesn't
- Users will use systems in the way we expect them to
- Services map directly and neatly on to applications, customers and suppliers
- Measuring effort and failure is the same as measuring value

Hopefully more and more people are beginning to see the flaws in this way of thinking

Practical Artificial Intelligence

When I was an undergraduate AI was one of my pet subjects, In the early days of my career I played around with virtual flatworms . One day I thought, all this might come in useful.

Well I'm pleased to say that in an ITSM context that day is fast approaching. In TCS we have already developed our  Ignio solution and you can expect to see us leveraging it on more and more ITSM accounts.

So that is it for another year, except to say thank you to all of you across the international ITSM community who have once again been excellent, entertaining and enlightening company.

Thursday, 26 November 2015

itSMF UK 2015

Sometimes even the tumble weed analogy doesn't really do my limited socmed  presence justice.

The prime reason I've been lax in updating this site recently is how fast things seem to change in my immediate world. Of course as soon as you lift your head up you realise that everything around you has stayed pretty much the same, and that the rip tide you've spent the last half hour fighting went totally unnoticed by the watchers on the shore.

Not drowning but waving?

The future is bright, the future is SIAM. To my honest amazement I've found myself in my mid fifties leading a wave of ITSM innovation . After all I'm less Generation Y than Generation What Did I Come Into This Room For?

A  future blog might highlight how wrong that state of affairs is, but for now lets accept that I do actually have my finger on the pulse of the ITSM global community.

So what are my feelings, especially after this weeks itSMF UK conference?

First the good news. The conference exceeded my expectations in every dimension except for the quality of the coffee. The venue was relatively accessible, the atmosphere was, to quote my colleague @itilpunk  "intimate"  the sessions and debate were relevant and the vendors were fully engaged.  I'm in a difficult position when it comes to discussing the future direction of itSMF UK because I've been involved in some of the behind the scenes debates, but generally I'm happy, and I have every confidence in the new chair, CEO, and board of directors.

Some really positive messages came out of the AllthingsITSM podcasts I guest hosted on.

In particular:

- The long overdue death of the monthly report
- The rise of tools to support SIAM
- The importance of collaboration
- The recognition that old support models need to change

I was also lucky enough to chair two great sessions by Sue Cater and Pat Bolger

For once I missed the gala dinner but it was worth it to spend time with Ivor Macfarlane and Luciana.

The downside?


There is no nice way of putting this.

Grow up.

I bit my tongue at times but if you think devops = agile, that service managers need to be more technical and that painting a picture of a framework based  utopia without any idea of the pain involved in getting there is the future of ITSM  then you've forgotten the lessons a lot of us have had to learn the hard way.

Above everything else please, please realise that spouting jargon and yet more jargon is not the answer. There were a couple of "conversations" in which I just nodded at what I hoped was the right point, rather like talking to my dear old doric speaking step-nan.

And though Tony Price is a worthy winner of the lifetime achievement award I'll say yet again that it is a scandal Ivor Macfalane has yet to receive it.

Monday, 29 December 2014

Who Will Go To The Ball in 2015?

It is that magical time of year when ITSM pundits everywhere make their predictions for the coming year, safe in the knowledge that no one ever checks up on how well their predictions have performed in the past.

Well possibly Rob England does.

So ignoring my previous and frankly repetitive predictions from other years what do I think is going to get us all excited?

By now I hope you've realised SIAM is well along the hype curve but here are my two SIAM specific predictions.

Number 1: People will wake up to the number of "SIAM Experts" out there who actually aren't. They've either never done it, done it once, or know somebody else who has done it.

Number 2: People will start talking about "SIAM and....." Insert buzzword of choice but DevOps has to be one of them.

Number 3.:Your buzzword of choice shall be either:

3a. BizDevOPs because DevOps is so 2014


3b Customer Experience / CX

Number 4:  People will start talking about having a career structure in ITSM again, for the first time since the late 90's.

Number 5: OK this is an old one I'm re-visiting, but I sincerely hope there will be at least one conference this year that breaks some boundaries and includes ITSM, project managers and architects.

So that is it for this year. Short and sweet for once

(Note: I've had to close comments on this post due to persistent spamming)

Saturday, 20 December 2014

Space 2014

Many of you will have played the Apollo 13 ITSM simulation. Many more of you will have seen the film. Some of you might have been sufficiently  intrigued by the story to go in search of more information about NASA  and the lessons we can learn from both their successes and failures. Some of those lessons were  clearly described by Col Hadfield at the last Pink conference in Vegas, for instance the need to practice failure.

What you almost certainly won't have done is to attempt to run your very own space programme.

At least not until now.

Let me introduce you to Kerbal Space Programme.

Just moved into a beta release  it offers you the chance to build up to manned, or at least kerballed,  interplanetary space exploration from very basic beginnings.

The physics are slightly simplified, and currently component unreliability is not built into the game engine, but trust me as you play it you'll find quite enough things go wrong to keep you busy and to keep you thinking about ways to avoid mistakes that lead to failed missions. I'm not proud, I have to confess that still I have several kerbals stuck in orbit around distant planets with only the very vaguest chance of being rescued when my technology reaches the next level. And one or two kerbals who sadly didn't make it home

So what are some of the lessons a game like this can teach you that are transferable to ITSM?

Gene Krantz, the crew cut Apollo programme controller  is on record as saying "The main reason Apollo succeeded after the loss of the Apollo 1 astronauts is that we introduced excellent configuration management."  It applies in this simulation as well. As you build launch vehicles, capsules and landers you'll get to understand how important it is to know exactly what equipment you've put into every vessel. Few things are as annoying as piloting to the other side of the solar system, successfully landing and planting a flag only to find that the gallant crew cannot get back on board to return to Kerbal because you've  forgotten to add back on a ladder that you took off an earlier version to save weight. Just like in IT we get caught out by that unimportant change that nobody bothered to record.

Why did you have to save weight? Well because nothing comes for free in this world, or out of this world.  Everything has an impact on something else. Often that impact does not become apparent immediately so Root Cause Analysis becomes interesting, as it does in IT when the root cause isn't something that happened immediately before the outage.

As well as keeping track of configuration items another key tool  essential to getting your kerbals to set foot on distant planets is good workflow. You always need to be on top of what id due to happen next, and whether it it still the "best next action". That leads to  considering your...



...Timing. The same action can have disastrously different results if mistimed. Much like those IT departments who only decide to implement best practice ITSM after senior management have already lost all faith in them.

Obviously that error of judgment is obvious to any one who has seen the progress of previous ITSM initiatives. That is unless those lessons learnt in the past aren't actually transferable. For instance a knowledge of how Russia and the USA used un-manned probes to go where no man had gone before doesn't really translate to the kerbalverse, where unmanned probes drain limited battery power much quicker than the almost indestructible kerbals. Just because something worked for one organisation doesn't mean it will work in your situation, and in particular you need to be aware of the dangerous halo effect.

Sunday, 7 December 2014

The 2014 Retrospective


2014. What a year. My absence of blog posts betokens just how crazily busy it has been and how quickly events have unfolded. So it is time to catch my breath and catch up with what I think have been some of the key developments before coming up with my predictions for 2015 and reviewing the ones I made for 2014.

I think I've broken most of my personal records for travel this year. I managed to visit twelve countries and to present key notes on three continents.  Compared to Kaimar Karu of course I am just an amateur at this travel business.

What it has highlighted for me is how mature the ITSM market is becoming in India, Australasia and Scandinavia, and how complacent Europe and the USA have become.

The think tank on multi-vendor management   that I was privileged to be part of at  Pink 14 showed how powerful the ITSM community can be when it  mobilizes the range of knowledge and experience that it possesses. Yet the audience still seemed to struggle to grasp the message that the outsourcing and commoditisation of IT services is the norm for large enterprises outside of the USA. Not only that but I detected a distinct vibe that technology is still seen by IT departments as an end in itself,

In the UK, in contrast, I'm seeing CXOs focusing exclusively on the value technology can deliver to the business, but I'm not seeing the majority of the UK ITSM community grasp the implications of that. I'm still appalled and shocked at how many times I've interviewed candidates for senior roles this year who have answered questions with "Because ITIL says so."

We've seen, the beginning of big changes at itSMF UK but I think 2015 is going to be a make or break year for them, and, indeed, for the UK ITSM conference and exhibition market in general.

It has been interesting to see AXELOS develop this year, and indeed, to be part of some of those developments. To some degree I can say the same of the ISO standards world, which seems finally to be waking up to multi-vendor models and the value of governance. On the othe rhand I get the impression that for many of us COBIT is appearing increasingly attractive.

And then there is DevOps, or even, and I believe correctly, BizDevOps.

I can't talk about DevOps without talking about my trip with Stuart Rance to the itSMF Australia conference this year.

What a great experience it was. Not only was it great to meet up yet again with Karen Ferris, Breed Barrett, April Allen and Kathryn Howard, but also to meet  Kathryn Heaton, Bradley Busch, Claire Brereton, Michael Billimoria and others, including Steve, the koala, seen here with Stuart Rance

Away from the conference I got to spend a lot of time with CIOs and the big message I got was how mainstream both Lean and DevOPs have become in this geography, and how keen they are to embrace SIAM.That has to be balanced against how simple the business models they are operating within seemed compared to the complexity in Europe.

The DevOps debate I took part in at LeadIT was a fascinating and fun experience. If you thought it was good being in the audience, and the feedback we got suggests it was, then being in the behind the scenes preparation workshops was something else. What would you expect with the likes of Kaz Ferris, Malcolm Fry, Rob Stroud and Rob England involved?

Another great experience this year was the itSMF India conference. Suresh has made a massive impact on itSMF India, and on everyone he has met this year as those who ran into him at SITS and the itSMF UK conference can probably testify. Personally it was also very satisfying to see TCS getting actively involved as gold sponsors.

A final high for me was the meeting Stuart, Barclay and myself had with the newly fledged IT4IT community.  Again this is something I'm immensely pleased that TCS is supporting.

So what will 2015 bring, and what of SIAM in 2014?

Watch this space.

Thursday, 29 May 2014


When I talk about ITSM and SIAM I'm increasingly struck by the development of an implicit underlying model that I guess is analogous to Maslow's hierarchy of needs.

In the mists of time it seemed vital to get people to embrace the concept of process and following ITIL guidance. That still remains true, but it is really just an enabler for ITSM excellence.

When I begin to look around at the organisations and individuals who are successful in our world I don't see people who say

 "We should start  doing it this way, because that is what ITIL says."  

Instead I see people who don't confuse the means and the end.  They ask

"What does IT need to change to be more effective in supporting the business?"

Sometimes they succeed, sometimes they don't  The ones who succeed answer the most important question:

"How do we make IT become more effective in supporting the business?"

If we are honest most of us know what IT needs to do differently but what we don't know is how to make it behave differently.

There has been some interesting research into the difficulties of making parents take up vaccination programs again after the damage caused by pseudo-scientific claims of a link to autism.

What interests me, apart from the fact there isn't a single glib answer, is the value put upon an individual. or an organisation's, self image.

When we ask a  manager, a team, a whole IT department to change their behaviors to protect their jobs they actually hear a totally different message:

"You aren't as capable as you think you are - or worse still you really are as bad at your job as you worry you might be at 2am in the morning"

So the question becomes how do we persuade people to change without undermining their sense of self?

I don't have that glib answer, but it is a question we need to ask.

Thursday, 1 May 2014

The 2014 Service Desk Show

This year's Service Desk & IT Support Show has now finished, the stands are packed away and many of the exhibitors and attendees have already jetted off to exotic locations. I'm in Coventry myself.

Once again the show was a great success in the eyes of those who attended, despite the impact of the tube strike and Know14 taking place in San Francisco at the same time.

In previous years I've struggled to get around the show to see all the stands and shake all the hands, so this year I made the conscious decision not to attend any of the conference sessions, excellent though the programme was. TCS also helped out by taking a stand this year.

Sophie Danby, Ivor Macfarlane, Myself, Suresh and Andrea

As you might have already guessed, I still didn't manage to get around the whole show.

I did get to meet a lot of great people, including friends old and new. This really is a social event. For many of us a highlight of this year's experience was the visit of HP's Suresh GP, the charming and enthusiastic  host of the Indian ITSM podcast. You can hear his extremely positive views on the event on the upcoming ITSM Review podcast. Which also provides me with an opportunity to once again congratulate Barclay Rae, on winning the ITSM Contributor of the Year Award, against stiff competition.  It felt a little odd to be back on a podcast, especially since literally seconds before being dragged off to join it I'd publicly announced that I was planning to leave future podcasts to a younger generation.

Incidentally Barclay and I are also among the contributors to LANDesk's guide to Shadow IT. Just look at this content page of ITSM goodness.

And if you didn't pick up a hardcopy at the show don't worry because they will be releasing it as an ebook.
A key point I made on the podcast is that if you are deciding which ITSM tool to go with thenyou need to look at their contribution to thought leadership, not just the technical capability of the tool.

If you decided not to make the trip this year because of the travel disruption then I entreat you to make the effort to come next year when it will be returning to Olympia, and if you are lurking on SocMed then please please feel free to announce that you are going and come and join the party.

On the subject of parties I couldn't end this post without a special thanks to SysAid and ITSM Review for organizing the social side of things after hours, and to LANdesk for keeping myself and the team stoked up on excellent coffee and, at the appropriate time of the day, Pimms. Incidentally there is a blogpost that needs to be written about how LANdesk's contracted in for the event  barista went out of his way to be an active part of their value network.

And finally a big big thank you to Toby, Carsten and particularly to Laura for making this event happen.  In the word's of the Terminator "I'll be back"

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Re purposing SMCongress

In my review of Pink14 I mentioned that we held some discussions about the future of SMCongress.

The ever energetic Charles Araujo  has provided an update based on those conversations but the future remains unclear. To be honest I think many of us involved in those discussions are ambivalent about that. The  Rev Net/SM Congress meeting at Fusion13  was an exciting, perhaps overly exciting, moment in time. Despite, or perhaps because of the fallout I still regret that work commitments in Europe prevented me taking up my invite to be a part of it, whilst also standing by the views expressed about it by Rob England. Oddly I've been accused of being an "SM Congress hater" for agreeing with Rob, whilst Rob seems to have been spared the abuse.  You have to larf, as we say in England.

As Charles says in his blog it would be great if we could find a role for SM Congress going forward . So here is a sugestion that started off on the Back2ITSM facebook group.

SM Congress started as a sub-event at a mainstream conference. What if we were to relaunch it as a type of conference in its own right? An event that would combine elements of both an unconference and a TEDx style event?

An event where speakers could work within strict constraints to deliver very personal, very powerful  and very succinct messages? An event where audience and speaker would work together to deliver value, where there would be no free-rides?  And an event where the content would be made available to a wider audience using SocMed channels, but that would still focus on that special magic that can only be generated by face to face interactions? A conference as well that would include plentiful contributions from our stakeholders and other diusciplines from which ITSM could learn?

Unfortunately the official TEDx model and branding  is only available to multi-discipline  events arranged on a geographical basis, so we can't be part of that programme, and we obviously would not want to do anything that could be perceived as misusing their IP or branding.

Some of the initial thoughts on facebook   were about hosting the event in Iceland and setting up a committee to organise it. Obviously at some point it would need the involvement of a legal entity, either an existing one or a new one.

And the name for this new event? what about SM Congress?

Comments please.

Friday, 28 March 2014

Talk Talk Care Not Not

Those of us who work in the service management industry are equally cursed and blessed. I get so excited seeing excellent customer service in action, both when it is driven by the passion of individuals and when technology is harnessed to deliver a great customer interaction.

And then there are experiences like today's with TalkTalk.

I have no idea whether the fault we've been suffering for the last few days lies within TalkTalk's control to fix or if it is something to do with our end of the line. What I do know is that the experience of interfacing with them has been difficult, disappointing and  so far a depressing  dead-end.

A couple of days ago our phone line suddenly became very, very noisy. So much so that it wasn't possible to hold a conversation with anyone who rang us. It sounded like someone had rung our number and not hung up, there was electrical interference, or there was an issue with the wireless channels, which in these days of cordless devices can be a problem.

If I'm honest in the past TalkTalk and BT, who provide the service between them, have generally been quite proactive and they also provide simple to use diagnostic tools. So if there is a problem at the local exchange it is normally fairly easy to identify and to know that Talk Talk are aware of it and taking action.

On this occasion though their on line diagnostic tools showed nothing wrong.

That is when the fun started.

Many of you will know and understand that I'm normally a busy man. If I have to take a day off to deal with domestic issues it has a knock on effect.

Foolishly I presumed that starting the diagnostic process at around 8.30am would mean that by around 9.30am we would either have the problem fixed or know what the next steps were.

Silly me.

It turns out that despite having a "Report & Repair" page on their website TalkTalk don't actually provide the facility to do either of those things. The only mechanism open to report something is via an on line chat with an agent.

There are times when I find that sort of option really useful. If I have a simple query for instance.

It isn't useful when:
  • The chat session keeps getting ended 
  • Every time you log back in the agents ask questions with no apparent connection to the previous session
  • The chat session keeps getting ended 
  • Sometimes you get asked security questions, sometimes you don't
  • The chat session keeps getting ended 
  • The agent appears to have no record of your previous call despite having a reference number
  • The chat session keeps getting ended 
  • The agent takes no account of information you've given them
  • The chat session keeps getting ended 
  • The expectation is you will get back to them, rather than them proactively telling you what their tests have/have not found.
Of course like many organisations Talk Talk have a Twitter account, @talktalkcare and to be fair they were quick to pick up that I was unhappy. Less quick to get back to me though despite knowing my contact details and the call reference number. less quick as in "Still haven't done so" OK they have now, but far too late and the damage is done.

I could go on and list other things about the customer experience that have been deeply disappointing,  but what would be the point? I've already wasted a day of precious annual leave trying to sort this out, I still don't have a working phone, and obviously we've already decided to change phone line provider.

But the underlying messages are key:

Customers accept that things break, but they expect the experience of fixing failure to be customer centric. They understand the capability of  CRM tools and they recognise when they are being asked pointless questions or dealing with an agent who is following a poorly written script. They also expect faults to be fixed with minimal friction on their part. We accept that technical diagnostic work has to happen, but where possible we expect that to take place behind the scenes and for the technical teams to understand when and how to interface with the customer.

Above everything else customers want providers to understand the impact the fault is having on their lives.

You know at the end of this saga, which I'm still waiting for , it is quite possible if not even probable,  that the fault itself will turn out to be nothing to do with Talk Talk, but the way they've responded to it is how I will, judge them as a provider.

Unfair? Possibly

Understandable?  Definitely.