GM offers IT contract framework

General Motors is working with a leading standards organisation to create a structured approach to managing complex IT services contracts, which could be applied globally.

General Motors is working with a leading standards organisation to create a structured approach to managing complex IT services contracts, which could be applied globally.

Work the car manufacturer has undertaken over the past year in managing its IT suppliers will be be incorporated into the Carnegie Mellon Software Engineering Institute's CMMI (Capability Maturity Model Integration) process.

CMMI is a five-stage process designed to improve the quality and efficiency of software engineering projects, but it does not yet cover best practice in outsourcing.

Fred Killeen, chief technical officer and director of the systems development factory at GM, said, "Our key objective is to drive implementation improvement, production quality and reliability."

With the support of the Software Engineering Institute, he said he wanted to create a more generalised model for outsourcing, which would have broader applications outside GM. "I hope it becomes a global standard of common IT processes that can be used when outsourcing IT," he said.

GM's approach is based on the concept of workstreams, which define common, repeatable and measurable working practices. GM staff and suppliers, including Hewlett-Packard, IBM and EDS, have been running it to improve quality, efficiency and the responsiveness of IT services.

Bernie Mamon, EDS vice-president for global operations, GM account, said GM's workstream approach was useful when a business is using several suppliers that require integration.

David Roberts, chief executive of user group The Corporate IT Forum, welcomed the initiative. "Within the wider developing offshore market, there are currently no agreed standards for contracts, models or sets of metrics which can be used to measure the service received," he said.

Dave Lounsbury, vice-president at industry body The Open Group, also welcomed the initiative. He said the CMMI model would complement The Open Group's own initiatives with certification of people, products and best practices.

GM anticipates releasing a report on the initial model for public release by the end of the first quarter of 2006.

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