To be sure, Szygenda has laid the proper groundwork. To get a seat at his table, vendors bidding on the GM contracts had to prove two things-that they could operate globally, and that they have bought into standards-based approaches to most of the common practices that make up IT service delivery. Their playbooks have to be drawn from ITIL, CMM, Six Sigma and other standards intended to ensure that, for instance, both HP's and IBM's approach to network provisioning are compatible and won't bring GM to a standstill at those points where they intersect.
Will all this work in practice? Szygenda is betting his career that it will. With EDS handling the bulk of GM's work in the past, he had the proverbial "one throat to choke" in the event of a problem. Now, there is the risk of finger pointing. Szygenda likely won't tolerate that for long, but it wouldn't take long for a network outage or some other glitch to steal millions from GM's bottom line. That's something the financially troubled automaker can ill afford these days.
It's not just GM that's interested in the outcome of this grand experiment. All major enterprises that use outsourcing services stand to benefit if the work performed by GM's team of vendors ultimately translates into more precisely defined standards for IT services. But while the rewards could be industry-wide, the risk is all on Szygenda and GM.