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Take the Stress out of Service Integration: Keys to Success

Service Integration (SI) is a key component of today's business and Information Technology Service Management (ITSM) environment. If your organization is not acting as a service integrator, then it is most likely managed by one. However, as the range of processes being outsourced expands, the eco-system of service providers becomes more complex.

Service Integration is an evolving practice area. Its value rests not just on the quality of IT service provided but also on the degree to which it facilitates broader organizational transformation.

This paper looks at several factors that can inhibit the implementation of effective Service Integration. Issues of governance and conflict of interest, proliferation of methodologies and poor framework design, lack of clarity about the boundaries within which individual service providers operate and tool limitations, are all discussed in this light. It also considers best practices and other factors that, if appropriately managed, contribute to a successful Service Integration policy. The practical recommendations listed in the paper will be useful to in-house IT professionals, service tower providers, and those responsible for IT Service Integration.

Service Integration
Service Integration involves combining multiple services provided by several different vendors through the use of common processes and tools. This helps deliver a set of services that are aligned to the requirements of the business.

An SI environment usually has three participants:
1. The client, who is typically the retained IT organization, representing the business and its goals
2. The service integrator whose role it is to coordinate and govern all supplying stakeholders while being the single face to the client. The service integrator can be in-house, or wholly or partially outsourced
3. The individual service tower providers (STP) such as the network provider, application support vendor, or service desk vendor

Challenges in an SI environment
Working in a multi-vendor ecosystem poses challenges for any service provider. This is particularly the case when the service integrator has not been fully empowered by the client to take control of the environment. Possible challenges faced by an STP include:

  • Weak SI governance
  • Inflexibility of the framework
  • Conflict of interest
  • Inconsistent methodologies
  • Unclear boundaries between STPs
  • ITSM Tools

Conclusion
As more organizations outsource business and IT functions to service providers, there is a need to ensure the outsourced eco-system does not become too complex and unwieldy. Service integration poses many challenges in terms of governance, conflict of interest, inconsistent methodologies and dynamism of all the partners involved in the relationship. Clients, service integrators and service tower providers should all have clearly defined boundaries to make the relationship as fruitful as possible. A defined structure of engagement will get the most out of such an interaction. It will help identify pitfalls and establish the expectations of each partner involved. Such an organized SI framework will help the client get the most out of each service provider. Most importantly, this will help the client organization realize a range of additional benefits, such as reduced costs and increased customer satisfaction.

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