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General Motors oils supply chain with Web 2.0 lessons

Cliff Saran

General Motors has developed a set of best practices based on social networking and open source projects to specify how IT suppliers and users companies communicate.

The Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI) for Acquisition standard allows CIOs to speak a common language with suppliers and articulate project requirements, business objectives and benefits.

The standard is designed to minimise the risk of failure in complex IT projects involving third-party suppliers.

General Motors looked at how teenagers communicate using Web 2.0 technologies and the way open source projects are managed, as examples of how social networking could be applied to its business.

Ralph Szygenda, group vice-president and CIO at General Motors, said the main factor in driving the CMMI standard was the need for large businesses to compete globally by working in real-time. "There is a need in most companies to move to real-time operations," he said.

The standard allows the car manufacturer's main IT suppliers to work together without the need for General Motors to manage the collaboration, said Szygenda.

Previously, the company's IT staff co-ordinated key suppliers, but as the business evolved to real-time operations, it was becoming increasingly difficult to manage the supplier relationships.

Capgemini has worked with General Motors on two pilots using CMMI for Acquisition. Szygenda said, "Every supplier now understands that taking business for business' sake is not where it is at. It must be a win-win. The biggest benefit has been that the supplier understands why you are doing the project."

He said CMMI for Acquisition had cut down paperwork and made IT more efficient. "We have streamlined our processes so we can spend the time on delivering new capabilities back to the business."

General Motors collaborated with the Carnegie Mellon Software Engineering Institute and the US Department of Defense to develop the standard.




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