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3 Key Success Factors for Multi-sourcing

The rise of multi-sourced IT delivery models is well documented, and multi-sourcing is now accepted as the new normal. Today’s outsourcing market demands solutions that anticipate and respond to business activity inside and outside the organization while simultaneously dealing with a rapidly shifting landscape of providers. This drives the need for a global digital infrastructure in which information is used to help organizations create real time links between IT organizations seeking to manage support complexity and a growing and ever shifting array of external service partners that includes traditional outsourcers, managed service providers, telecom operators, and cloud service providers. Enabling this shift are three key success factors:

  1. The dynamic nature of this ever shifting landscape becomes a defining point in new strategies and new tools are needed to address that new reality.
  2. Decisions being made 24/7 are profoundly impacted by an organization’s capacity to have every available piece of information, from all sources, accessible immediately.
  3. The ability to deliver services of all kinds faster, more reliably and more affordability is of prime importance in today’s market.

Sourcing is becoming a critical success factor for IT management;  in fact many now consider the CIO the “Chief Integration Officer”. The multi-sourcing challenges that IT and business managers are facing today have never been so complex. In addition to cost considerations there’s a simultaneous laser focus on security, agility, alignment between sourcing and business strategy are more and more in focus.

Conquering Complexity in a Multi-Sourced Ecosystem

Multi-sourcing is not as straightforward as it might appear. There are challenges even for organizations that have spent time developing their future operating model and included a Service Integration and Management (SIAM) function. The  factors in the figure below underpin successful multi-sourcing with SIAM:

Key Success Factors for Multi-sourcing

Figure includes success factors for effectively operating in a multi-sourced environment.

 Critical Components

  • Effective client organization:
    In any sourcing arrangement, the client IT department is accountable for the IT services delivered to their business. When multi-sourcing, the client has multiple direct contracts with many suppliers, so a strong commercial management function is also required.

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Automating Configuration in a Multi-Sourced Environment

The landscape of IT has changed. The single-source provider era is quickly coming to an end as more companies embrace the world of multi-sourcing. In a 2014 report by IAOP & Information Services Group (ISG) Annual State of the Industry1, it stated that the number of enterprise IT organizations using multi-sourcing as a strategy increased by 75% in that year and predictions for 2015 shows continued growth.

Companies are moving more rapidly to a multi-sourcing strategy to achieve greater agility and improved customer satisfaction, and it’s paying off. Effective multi-sourcing companies are experiencing improved performance, reduced IT costs, acquiring best-in-class expertise while freeing up time and resources so personnel can focus on the company’s core business.

Automation Is at the Forefront of IT Change

Girl and guy in high-tech areaThe speed of change in IT is getting faster and innovation via automation is at the forefront of this change. FAST IT is helping enterprises keep up with this accelerated pace.

Fast IT simplifies operations at a time when complexity is mounting — and IT budgets are flat. By offering automated, programmable, and agile infrastructure, Fast IT frees IT organizations from manual configuration, changes, and maintenance.2

In my January blog post, Building Innovation: Achieve Fast IT with Customers, I shared with you that if companies are going to deliver new solutions at a more rapid pace, IT needs to be able to integrate and automate all support interactions that it is responsible for delivering.

There Are Challenges

Just as there are benefits with multi-sourcing, there are some challenges. Multi-sourcing creates new complexities that can stand in the way of business progress. Forward-thinking, proactive companies can address these challenges head-on by answering crucial questions such as:

  • How do we implement end-to-end delivery methods in a multi-vendor environment?
  • How do we manage the configuration of our devices when changes are being made by multiple outsource providers?
  • How do we onboard new providers with minimal effort and impact on the ecosystem?

Changes made within the ecosystem can easily disrupt and fragment service delivery causing your company and other service providers to be out of policy, SLA or regulatory compliance.

Case in Point

We recently saw a situation at a large financial institution where the customer was facing a security audit that they were most likely going to fail. They called us for help. In just two-and-a-half weeks following service activation we had updated nearly 2,000 configurations and the company passed their security audit. They were so pleased with our performance they gave us 23,000 devices to manage for policy, configuration, and change.

Two men in tech area

But, that’s not the end of the story. The bank wanted to benchmark the effectiveness of their service providers against their established service level agreements (SLAs). Immediately we knew an automated closed loop process was needed. Our Compliance Management and Configuration Service (CMCS) coupled with ServiceGrid fit the bill.

When this project goes live, ServiceGrid, a tool that gets the right data to the right place and person, will be used to connect the customer and their service providers ticketing systems to one another as well as to CMCS. In turn, CMCS will perform a baseline analysis of all connected network devices and elements and automatically stabilize and upgrade them to Corporate Standards. This improves communication among all connected parties. It also gives the bank greater transparency into their vendor management activities and provides real-time compliance monitoring.

Combining ServiceGrid and CMCS enables us to automate multi-vendor network configuration and compliance while giving the customer higher value and a better outcome than if we offered either one of the services alone. The bank’s desire to build a robust, elegant, secure, and seamless multi-party network became an opportunity to let two of our premier services shine, making the future brighter for our customer and Cisco Services.

What about you? How is your organization addressing configuration management in a multi-sourced environment?


CMCS At-A-Glance
ServiceGrid Overview Brochure
CMCS Integration with ServiceGrid (technical white paper)


  1. Annual State of the Industry Jagdish R. Dalal, IAOP
  2. Fast IT: Accelerating Innovation in the Internet of Everything Era

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SIAM: the next ITIL?

The acronym SIAM stands for Service Integration And Management, and it is a hot topic in the world of IT Service Management…..but why? Service integration models have been around awhile, but are evolving from the challenges of managing a small number of large service partners to a model of managing a larger number of smaller partners. As the services and businesses become more critical or complex, the level of service integration becomes deeper. SIAM builds on the ITIL framework, and expands it.

What is SIAM?

  • According to Wikipedia: “Service integration and management (SIAM) is a framework for managing multiple suppliers of information technology services and integrating them to provide a single business-facing IT organization.”
  • The UK Government defines it as “Service integration and management lets an organization manage it’s service providers in a consistent and efficient way, making sure that performance across a portfolio of multi-sourced goods and services meets user needs.
  • Kevin Holland, ITIL expert is a bit more specific “Service Integration and Management(SIAM) is both a model and a function which provides a single point of accountability for the service management and delivery of all services provided by internal and external service providers, by taking responsibility for and assuring suppliers performance ,  coordinating delivery, integration , and interoperability across multiple providers, and providing the necessary governance on behalf of the users.”

Essentially, it is about keeping (or recovering) control – IT organizations use more and more external support providers today, and managing these relationships is getting more complex. SIAM might be the answer to this challenge, because it is all about how IT will deliver the capability to achieve end-to-end service excellence in an increasingly complicated environment by actively managing all aspects of service performance.  Basically, it supports businesses by helping them get the most out of their outsourced and externally managed services.

Why is SIAM important now?

SIAM is in the spotlight of the key analyst groups, Forrester and Gartner.  Spending on external and internal IT services is higher than ever; However, according to Gartner’s 2014 key metrics survey, only 11% of respondents  say that they have mastered their approach to sourcing, and 89% need to improve competencies and significantly raise their maturity levels in order to manage multi-sourcing successfully. (Source)  These metrics show large future potential for SIAM.

If you decide to research SIAM further, keep in mind that SIAM is sometimes referred to as MSI (Multi-sourcing Service Integration)

Are you using or considering a SIAM framework? I would love to hear your thoughts.


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