Making Plans

By Dennis McCafferty  |  Posted 2009-09-29 Print this article Print

The AT&T philosophy of information technology governance can be summed up simply: Make IT part of the business process, not an afterthought.

Making Plans

Each year, AT&T goes through a planning process to decide which IT projects to fund and at what level. Spending for approved projects from the most recent years is reviewed, to get a sense of what came in over budget and which projects either made or exceeded spending goals.

“We generally think in terms of three-year windows,” Arroyo says. “We want to review what has happened before to get a better sense of what kind of IT investment we can make in the year ahead. Of those projects, 80 percent are mapped out to be brought to market in 12 months or less, to ensure success.”

Templates that have been successful in the past are then tapped for new product cycles. In other words, nobody from IT gets an “Employee of the Month” award for attempting to build new standards and protocols from scratch for every conceivable project. Instead, employees are rewarded for how adaptive their IT resources, policies and procedures are for the indefinite future.

“We don’t seek to reinvent the wheel with every project,” Arroyo says. “The ‘Is this process reusable for other needs?’ question is part of the review process. IT developments are also reviewed to see if they provide increased automation.

“We want to know, ‘Did the improvement result in 80 of our employees now doing what 100 used to do? If so, how can we extend that to other parts of our business? If not, why hasn’t it?’”

In other words, AT&T takes a business approach to the management of enterprise technology.


Company: AT&T

Headquarters: Dallas

2008 Revenue: $124 billion

Total Employees: 294,600

IT Employees: nearly 30,000

Business: Telecommunications, both wireless and wire line

Business Challenge: To develop new applications that can be brought to market in under a year

Key IT projects: Support for traditional phone-line service, high-speed Internet, digital TV and mobile phone services for the iPhone

IT Infrastructure: Hardware from HP, IBM and Sun. The core of the applications is Unix-based, with x86 servers.

Read more “New York Life: Insuring Business Success”.

Dennis McCafferty is a freelance writer for Baseline Magazine.

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