The Service Integrator and Construction Site Supervision - The Limits of an Analogy

"Building a house is a project, right?"

The attentive and experienced SIAM reader will certainly not have failed to notice that there may have been a slight inconsistency in the last article. She or he will have asked himself the legitimate question: “Building a house is a project, right? Actually, the service integrator would have to be used in a later phase, the so-called “operating phase” (or utilization phase in house construction)?”

The answer to this question is “yes and no”. The service integrator performs his activities mainly in the operational phase, that’s true. However, it is beneficial to establish or involve this important function in a SIAM (Service Integration And Management) operating model very early in the journey, and not only in the operational phase. This ensures that even before selecting and onboarding new service providers, experience and input on topics such as contract design, SLA’s, roles & processes, etc. can be incorporated into negotiations with potential providers.

Let’s now move to the subject of construction site supervision or operation.

To stay with the analogy of building a house, let’s bring the role of property management into play. After the house is completed and handed over to the client for use, a property management company is hired. A property manager, depending on the requirements of the customer, takes on the responsibility for clearly specified, recurring activities in the management of the property. These activities include:     

  • Financial Management (cost control, billing)
  • Reporting on the services rendered by providers
  • Optimization of contracts 

And here, too, we see a similarity between the basic services of property management and those of a service integrator. In detail, of course, the areas clearly differ in their characteristics. But basically, in both cases, the customer hands over the responsibility of control to a specially designated function. 

SIAM: four different models.

SIAM provides four different models for the provision of the service integrator function:

Internal Service Integrator: the customer organization assumes the role of Service Integrator. Typically, this model is used when the customer wants to retain control over the integrator function, or when company-related, regulatory or legal conditions require it.

External service integrator: Here, the role is entrusted to an independent, external organization. The advantage here is that you can draw from existing skills and experience quickly, and implement quick wins (e.g., existing processes, templates, etc.)

Hybrid service integrator: In this case, tasks and responsibilities are divided, with the final responsibility remaining in the customer organization. This makes sense if you do not want to hand over responsibility, but you may not have the necessary skills in-house.

Lead provider model: A service provider assumes the role of lead supplier. In this case, however, there is usually no direct contractual relationship between the integrator (the lead supplier) and other providers. This is also the difference to the general contractor, where the JV holds the contracts with the subcontractors, and these are not visible to the customer organization.

Which model to choose depends heavily on the customer’s situation. Each has its advantages and disadvantages, listing them is beyond the scope of this article. 

Finally, a few thoughts on the chosen topic.  We are aware that the comparison with the construction industry is a bold one. The industries are not comparable in terms of technical content. However, the challenges are definitely the same. Our goal here is to look at a complex topic such as SIAM from a different perspective. 

How do you see it? I look forward to your comments on the topic!


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