Case Study ABB: The SIAM journey to global networked IT

Case Study ABB: The SIAM journey to a global networked IT.

A field report from the SIAM Body of Knowledge co-Autor

Markus Müller, Blueponte Co-Founder and Corporate Information Systems GRC Experience Manager at ABB writes about the journey to global IT at ABB. A field report by the SIAM Body of Knowledge co-author, who combines practice with theory, as we like to practice at Blueponte.

Digitale Transformation has catalyzed ways of working.

The digital transformation has catalyzed a rewrite of the rules and changes in working methods. In the last two to three years, deficiencies in consistent IT work methods have also been uncovered in Austria. These shortcomings are gradually being remedied.

Existing, “pure” agile projects are now grounded in the facts. We keep seeing DevSecOps approached like a technology project. That is not the last word, because it is more about changing the corporate culture. Tactical successes are achieved in many places, but if they are not orchestrated as part of an end-to-end solution, they can restrict the supply of IT services and create additional costs and complexity for the organization. The focus has to be bigger and this is exactly where Service Integration and Management (SIAM) offers an answer to what is often simply referred to as “digitization”. A little more than a third of the top 25 companies for 2020 in the Gartner ranking have redefined their operating models in recent years. They did this to provide the required end-to-end ability to manage distributed services. Among them is the ABB Group, which I have been accompanying on the SIAM journey for six years now.

Improve collaboration between business organizations.

I focus in my work on how we can work better and how we can improve the cooperation between the different business organizations, which all have their own IT, and the global business IT organization. ABB’s IT has evolved from a centralized, more monolithic approach with a classic separation between infrastructure and applications to a flexible organization with a multi-sourcing approach and is now moving to federal governance.

In retrospect, I can now ask myself what I would have done differently with today’s knowledge six years ago when I started at ABB, when I accepted the assignment to set up a global SIAM organization.

I am very proud to have accompanied ABB on an exciting and instructive SIAM transformation journey over the past few years. And I am convinced that the company’s IT organization is perfectly positioned to take advantage of its new operating model. We built the IT organization on SIAM principles and practices, and although we are still in the transition phase, I can name several key key questions that need to be answered in order to embed the new ways of working in our daily work.

The factors of success.

The success factors include:

  1. Is there a vision for SIAM?
  2. How strong is the tower mentality or the silo thinking within the organization?
  3. Are there robust frameworks built on industry best practices?
  4. Is there enough maturity to build trusting relationships with suppliers?
  5. Does the organization value agile organizational changes?
  6. Is there a culture of collaborative thinking to drive the overall value proposition of IT?
  7. Does the organization have a history of iterative approaches to implementing SIAM competencies?
  8. What do contracts and cooperation agreements look like, is the organization used to dealing with formal guidelines?
  9. Is there a culture or ambition for what we call the end-to-end ownership mentality in SIAM?

If I think back to 2015 and try to answer these questions from the perspective of that time, it becomes clear in retrospect how big the challenge was, because apart from questions 1 and 5 there were no clear answers at that time. Taking on the challenge anyway made our personal SIAM trip at ABB even more interesting and appealing than SIAM projects already are.

These nine questions are the most important questions I would ask today before accepting a job as a leader in a SIAM organization.

In my next post, you can find out why this is the case, which will be online next week. Follow us on LinkedIn to not miss a blog entry.

Case Study ABB: The SIAM Vision

Case Study ABB: The SIAM Vision

A field report from the SIAM Body of Knowledge co-author.

Markus Müller, Blueponte Co-Founder and Corporate Information Systems GRC Experience Manager at ABB writes about the journey to global IT at ABB. A field report by the SIAM Body of Knowledge co-author, who combines practice with theory, as we like to practice at Blueponte.

A vision conveys a long-term view.

Today I would like to write on the subject of “SIAM Vision”. Perhaps you will now think that visions are more esoteric. That may be true, but managers also need the creativity to describe their mission statement for the ideal state of the organization with a crisp statement. This has many advantages, for example a vision can show what a service integration function has to offer. A vision conveys a long-term view that describes how we would like to see our surroundings and ourselves in them. It shows the employees the meaning and describes the bigger picture of a desired target state.

And good visions also implicitly contain the value contribution of the organization. This gives you a direction with which the members of the organization, in this case the employees of a service integrator, can identify.

I worked on the vision with my management team in several workshops. In retrospect, this work was very valuable. We agreed that the fewer words the vision statement has, the better. We found this out simply by discussing the statements of larger companies, which from our point of view were very successful.

We finally came to the following statement for our SIAM organization: “We are the global conductors of integrated service operations”

Since I appreciate classical music very much and never miss an opportunity to be present at rehearsals with large orchestras with their conductor, I have been able to study the interactions between conductor and orchestra over and over again. I found many of them fascinating, because the way in which successful conductors deal with the individual groups in the orchestra is neither based on a relationship that one calls “the conductor is the king” or “the conductor is the supplicant” could. Rather, I had the impression that they were treated very respectfully on an equal footing. Conductors like to describe what they would like to hear from the musicians in a very graphic way.

At the time, I took this as a model to describe the ideal state in which managers at the integrator should best talk to the managers at the service providers.


The conductor with his orchestra.

I chose the familiar image of how a conductor interacts with the orchestra in order to make the employees in my organization understand what we stand for as integrators and what justifies our existence. It is easy to understand what a network department or a hosting tower does in an IT organization. What an integrator does is not that easy to understand. That is why we were certainly seen like a foreign body in ABB’s IT environment at the time.

If I had only described this in many PowerPoint slides, we would never have gotten any further. We made real progress in dealing with us as integrators and the many service providers when we really exemplified SIAM in the way we dealt with everyone.

Originally I wanted to find a caricature in which the conductor looks at the orchestra and all the musicians have their backs to the conductor, because that was actually the situation I was in when the journey began.

How did we finally turn the tide? In retrospect, I am convinced that the visual part of our vision contributed to this. I could have woken everyone in my team at some point during the night to ask about the vision and they would have told me who we are without hesitation: “global conductors of integrated service operations”.

Ideally, a vision should be self-explanatory. Nevertheless, I kept referring to it at larger events, e.g. when it came to communicating our SIAM strategy and our annual planning.

Two essential things.

Two things have turned out to be essential:

  • We are there to keep the complexity of our supplier environment away from our customers so that the customers perceive an IT organization that is as coherent as possible without having to worry about the underlying networks of IT services.
  • We are the function that drives the global standardization of processes and procedures in order to make operations as transparent, efficient and simple as possible.

Working out a vision in a team and creating it first for the team and then later for everyone else, that made communication about what I wanted to achieve a lot easier in retrospect. It pulled people in the same direction and gave their work more meaning.

Would you also like to reduce the complexity in your company and align your IT organization to SIAM? Contact us, we are pleased to help you.

A customer journey: SIAM is not always named SIAM

A customer journey: SIAM is not always named SIAM

We finished an assignment with a customer.

Earlier this year we finished an assignment with our client Alpega. The perfect time to sum up, reflect and let Alpega tell the story. Alpega Group is a leading global logistics software company offering modular solutions that cover all complex transportation and logistics needs. By bringing together the best solutions and market expertise, the Alpega Group has created the transportation industry’s only scalable end-to-end software suite.

In 2019 Alpega decided to approach a huge challenge: Alpega’s products were already fully SaaS and supporting hundreds of customers across the world, but they were running in a private data center of their prior owners. Alpega’s mission was to take them to the public cloud world – Azure and Oracle. 

Co-Founder of Blueponte joined the challenge as advisor.

Ronald Kränzl, Co-Founder of Blueponte, joined the challenge in late 2019 as advisor and consultant to support the process of selecting and negotiating the future partner. His add-on challenge was to detect blind spots and enrich the team with his experience from other projects of this category.

In the course of the initial project phase business cases were improved constantly with more current data as the negotiations went on. In order to fully exploit expected advantages that result from the migration project, a governance for the future service delivery had to be put in place.

Governance always starts with roles and responsibilities and is closely followed by selecting the right people to take on these roles. Luckily the right person to fill the very crucial role of the Service Manager could be found within the existing management team.

In spring 2020 the contracting client, the CIO, decided to leave and Ronald was appointed to expand his duties and to run the department on an interim basis until a new CIO was found. In summer 2020 the negotiations were finalized and the contracts with Alpega’s Cloud Partner and the Partner for the migration project and managed service was signed. The first lock-down in Europe was eased, but the teams still weren’t allowed to come together physically, which was an additional burden for everyone involved.

Many SIAM practices have been applied.

The migration project was kicked-off and the preparation of a series of systems shifts from hosting partners to the cloud started and were tested intensively. The transition work started. The new CIO was chosen and onboarded in October. In parallel to his leadership role Ronald conveyed all the information he collected by then to bring the new CIO up to speed quickly. After the budgeting phase the onboarding was finalized in January 2021. The project was running on a tough but steady course and so it was the right time to step out.

Todd DeLaugther, Alpega Group CEO adds “I had the pleasure of working with the Blueponte Team and Ronald Kränzl, during a complex transition period. We lost our CIO right in the middle of a complex data center carve out, while moving a full stack SaaS application from a private data center to public cloud. Ronald stepped in and took on the management of the team as well as the Data Center carve-out, working with our vendor sourcing manager to get all contracts in place, take the existing plan and evolve it to the success plan we have today. Blueponte and Ronald have been an invaluable member of our team for the past 12 months.”

Ronald: “I am very glad that I had the opportunity to work with Alpega. I’ve met wonderful people and working together was an honor for me. Reflecting back, I know that the goal was not to implement SIAM, but really it was all about Service Integration and Management. We have applied many SIAM practices and maybe, when the time is right, the SIAM story will be continued.”