The Outsourcing Mentality at General Motors


    I love reading any interview with GM’s head CIO Ralph Szygenda. This piece in CIO Today doesn’t disappoint.

    For one, I didn’t know that this was how his IT organization was structured:

    • 6 process information offices (PIOs)
    • 40 chief information officers (CIOs)
    • 1 chief technical office (CTO)
    • 2,000 IT brokers

    “IT broker.” Hmm. Interesting title. It suggests somebody who buys services vs. somebody who supplies it. I’m surprised I haven’t seen that job title used elsewhere.

    Of course, a quick search of Dice, Monster and HotJobs shows nobody’s really using that title. Nor does GM itself have any open positions under that title. But it does have 30 or so positions available in its US-based IT operations. They all have titles we’d expect — IT Manager – Incident Management; Sr. Architect – Product Development; Senior Systems Analyst; IT Manager – Information Systems and Services.

    But woven into their duties are responsibilities like these:

    • Measure and monitor performance of performing suppliers for Incidents and Incident Resolution.
    • Review and approval of Bills of IT, as well as creating Bills of IT for cross functional applications.
    • Work with hardware and software vendors, as well as systems integrators, to identify solutions to potential problems before they become problems.
    • Assists in proposals for new equipment including contacts with vendors.
    • Vendor Management.

    In other words, the outsourcing or “brokering” aspects of their jobs are assumed for most of the IT positions — not a special designation.

    That’s as it should be. If IT work in the US is undergoing any kind of transformation as a result of outsourcing, downsizing and offshoring, it should be this: That solutions don’t need to be homegrown to be effective, and that the people who understand the business they serve and the work to be done are the same people who should be in the positions of managing those vendors best able to supply the service, whether those vendors are internal or external to the organization.