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The chicken or the egg?

Synergistic approaches

Sometimes things just go well together. Take VeriSM™ and SIAM™ for example. SIAM was created some years before VeriSM and yet the two approaches fit so nicely together it’s almost as if SIAM was developed with VeriSM in mind.

If you are not yet familiar with it, VeriSM is a new model for Service Management in the digital age. Among the many interesting ideas VeriSM puts forward, one is the need to evolve service management to deal with both the changing nature of digital services and the increasing technical sophistication and expectations of the generations.

Digital Services

Simply put, a digital service is one that is dependent on technology. Contrast, for example, the experience of buying car insurance in the mid-1980’s with that of today. I can remember, circa 1980, catching a bus to my local insurance broker’s office where a sales assistant input my information in to his computer before telling me what he could offer me (“Computer says “No!”). 

Compare that to today’s versions of events. In my case, it would start with an online search, probably via a web comparison site, from where I will click-through to a broker site (usually chosen from the first page of results). There may be an option to speak to an agent (in person or via chat) but the process is entirely technology dependent.

Between landing on the website and pressing the button to confirm my order, there will be many “moments of truth” where I, as the customer, may lose confidence or patience and go back to the search results. This could be as simple as the website seems tacky or the way that information is presented to me or requested from me, demands too much effort on my part. As the consumer, I am firmly in the driving seat. The success of the transaction, from getting on the first page of the results and enticing the customer in, through all those moments of truth where the customer is led and encouraged to finally confirm the order, depends on the successful blending of business and technical knowledge and expertise. Technology, in a digital service, is part of the DNA of the business process.

Technical Generations

Millenials (born mid 80's -mid 90's) and, especially, Digital Natives (1995 onwards) have grown up through the age of digital transformation. They are completely comfortable using digital services, such as Uber, Airbnb and Amazon. They do not see technology as something mysterious and a little frightening. They expect services to be always on – available and accessible in ways that suit their convenience. If not, they are quite happy to look elsewhere.

Not only are these generations potential customers of course; these are the generations that are rising through the ranks of the organisation. And they apply the same outlook at work as they do in their day-to-day life. Digital natives are comfortable finding and procuring products and services across the web.

Shadow IT

The rise of shadow IT is in part a result of dissatisfaction with the internal IT services – quality, responsiveness, flexibility – and in part a result of the increasing availability of digital services across the web.

This has resulted in a service management model that looks like the diagram below:

Traditional Model Of Service Management

Service Management is executed, by IT, covering services which fall within the dashed box. Shadow IT is outside of the governance of IT which often means there is no governance structure at all. For the business this frequently results in poor return on investment and poor service with inevitable impact on the services that the business, in its turn, delivers to its customers.

VeriSM recognises that this model is no longer tenable in the digital age. It raises the practice of service management to the level of the whole organisation. The design, development and support of digital services requires business and IT to work together, shoulder to shoulder (not as service provider and customer), all the way down the line.

The diagram below shows there is no such thing as Shadow IT. All sourcing decisions are taken under clearly defined service management principles with input from IT and the other business capability units alike.The VeriSM model of service management looks like this :

So, SIAM?

So, what has this got to do with SIAM? VeriSM describes an over-arching enterprise approach to Service Management and encourages the use of best practice methodologies and approaches to execute the various activities.  SIAM, as a methodology for managing an environment that includes services sourced from a number of service providers, perfectly fits the bill.

Moreover, the Service Integrator function in SIAM (which pre-existed VeriSM) seems almost designed to play a significant role in the establishment and management of a VeriSM management mesh. Perhaps I should take a moment to explain those two concepts.

The management mesh, as described in VeriSM, is effectively a management system that enables the organisation to understand the enablers and constraints, both internally and externally to the organisation, that are potentially in play whenever a new or changed service is managed through the service lifecycle. These come under four headings : resources (eg. people, skills, money, time); technology (eg. cloud, big data, containerisation); Environment (eg. Internal culture, external regulations); and management practices (eg. Lean, Agile, SIAM). Through the definition of the mesh, VeriSM ensures the best use of resources and technology.

VeriSM Key Concepts

The SIAM service integrator function is accountable for the end to end delivery of services and the business value that the customer receives – across all service providers (internal and external). The service integrator carries out the activities for end-to-end governance, management and assurance of services primarily focusing on coordination and integration as opposed to operational activities. The service integrator therefore ensures and maintains the detailed understanding of internal and external service provider resources and capabilities that is essential to the effective functioning of a management mesh. By ensuring that the organisation is aware of all of the capabilities available to it – whether sourced internally or externally – these can be used these to greatest effect.

 

 Image credit: SIAM Foundation Body of Knowledge available for free from Scopism.co.uk:

SIAM Image

The application of the service Integrator model in a VeriSM environment might be represented as :

Service Integrator Images

In either case, IT knowledge and expertise remains an organisational capability that is retained within the customer organisation to ensure that the business gains maximum benefit from its investment in IT services and products.

Service Management Principles

Additionally, VeriSM supports SIAM by driving the definition of key service management principles that serve as the “guardrails” to guide the creation of services through a service lifecycle. Amongst other things, these principles will help define the parameters for the organisation’s supplier management policy including when and how the organisation will source internally and when and how it will seek to work with external suppliers.

Shadow IT is always a bad thing. It is the procurement of IT products or services via an unauthorised route. However, being aware of, evaluating and, where appropriate, sourcing technology or services externally in many situations will be the approach that delivers most benefit to the organisation. This is an objective jointly shared by VeriSM and SIAM.

In the age of the cloud and digital services, “outsourcing” could mean anything from using a web-based application to manage a department’s accounts to outsourcing the whole software development lifecycle, to sourcing the majority of the organisation’s IT infrastructure through the cloud. There are always risks when outsourcing. These have been sufficiently well-documented elsewhere not to bother mentioning here and there are numerous sobering horror stories of outsourcing projects that have gone horribly wrong with disastrous results – both for the outsourcer and the outsourcee.

However, while this type of large-scale outsourcing still exists, SIAM is primarily beneficial to environments where multiple providers are used. As a provider of digital services to customers, an organisation is likely to also be a consumer of digital services. The digital service described above (car insurance) for example, depends on being able to take payment from the customer. This execution of this element of the process is clearly a moment of truth which could result in lost business. If the payment fails, the business, probably, is lost. If the payment is successful but customer experience is poor (for example, I didn’t get a confirmation notification) it could cause a loss of confidence which could impact on repeat business.

While this type of failure may not directly cause the whole business to fail, poorly negotiated and managed third party services could eventually lead to organisational “death by a thousand cuts”. 

Chicken or Egg?

So which to invest in first? Organisations seeking to adopt the VeriSM approach who are unfamiliar with the concept of a management mesh will have a major advantage if they have adopted SIAM. However, VeriSM defines a new model for the digital age. It will help organisations define the principles which become the guardrails within which they can get maximum benefit from prioritising, investing in and exploiting management practices such as SIAM. So, for my money, VeriSM first.

About the author:

Mark Flynn, Director of Felix Maldo Ltd, is a contributing author of VeriSM A Service Management approach for the digital age.

He gained the ITIL Manager’s certificate in 1993 and has over 25 years’ experience in the IT Service Management industry as a practitioner, trainer and consultant. He was on the review panel for the 2011 ITIL V3 refresh project and has contributed to the following publications : 

  • The ITIL practitioner guide
  • The OBASHI Methodology
  • Passing your ITIL Foundation exam

Mark has headed APMG International’s accreditation team of Service Management assessors since 2007, and is a Subject Matter Expert for VeriSM™

 

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