International Business Machines Corp. has saved a key insurance standards group years of development time by giving it the code for more than 100 business process models and model definitions.[@@]

The standards group, the Association for Cooperative Operations Research and Development, Pearl River, N.Y., says the content is part of IBM’s Insurance Application Architecture program. The program sets standards for IBM’s own insurance software systems.

In addition to saving ACORD time, the move could help IBM, Armonk, N.Y., sell more “middleware” to insurers.

Middleware is software that helps computers communicate with other computers that are running different software. Insurers often use middleware to connect their old “legacy” computers to the Internet or to company networks.

IBM has spent about 20 years working with insurers to develop the IAA business process models.

ACORD will integrate the new processes into its standards and “plug holes, and build out areas where there hasn’t been a priority by our members up to date,” says Denise Garth, ACORD’s vice president for membership and development.

The contributed IBM code includes:

o A hierarchy of about 100 processes with business definitions in English.

o The IAA Business Terms data dictionary.

o “State machines,” or code that helps a computer keep track of the status of a process.

Many ACORD members donate code, but the IBM contribution is notable for its size, ACORD says.

Most of the content is being given to ACORD in HTML to make it easy to use, says Cindy Maike, an IBM insurance market segment manager.

“There’s no money or other form of compensation involved in the donation,” Maike says.

But Maike says expanded use of the IBM standards could make IBM’s own products more appealing to insurers.

IBM and ACORD committees will work together to add the IBM content to existing ACORD standards, but Garth says IBM and ACORD have no definitive timetable for integrating the information and implementing expanded standards. “All I can say is that we want it sooner than later,” Garth says.