Putting the Puzzle Pieces Together

With a decade’s worth of IT-governance experience, Andrew Miljanovski is helping Rogers create a more holistic framework for its operations

Behind the majority of the work at Rogers Communications, Canada’s largest wireless provider, sits Andrew Miljanovski and his 10-person team of IT professionals. As director of IT operations delivery at Rogers since early 2014, Miljanovski has been on a mission to create a framework for managing, controlling, and assessing everything from internal teams to multisuppliers.

The skeleton of that framework, a four-pillared, integrated model of IT governance, has been implemented by Miljanovski before at organizations as diverse as Ontario Public Service, IBM Canada, BMO, and Hewlett-Packard for the past 10 years. It’s all about getting IT and the business goals on the same trajectory, Miljanovski says, by introducing a firm and permanent foundation of governance within the often-hectic world of new and fleeting technology. Here, the IT guru breaks down just what IT governance entails and why it’s so important to a modern business’s success.

When I explain to my daughters what I do, they just don’t get it. Most people get the simple elements of IT—“Oh, you’re a programmer,” or, “Oh, you work at the help desk.” But when you look at IT management—what I call the governance of IT—people don’t really understand what it is and what it encompasses. But when my daughter got to second-year university, she took an IT course and said to me, “Dad, now I’m starting to get what you’re doing. You’re the guy who puts the puzzle pieces together.”

To me, governance is about four things. It’s looking at the whole spectrum within an IT organization—managing relationships, managing the operations, managing demand, and creating value. A lot of people talk about governance, but the key is putting it all together. Without effective governance, most outsourcing deals fail within five years. You’ll have breakdowns in trust. You won’t have clear processes in working with your counterparts. You won’t have clear communications. You’ll work within your own little silo instead of joint problem-solving. These deals fail when the four pieces—relationships, operations, demand, and value—aren’t connected. So governance is essentially problem-solving and being able to look not only at individuals’ roles but how their roles affect others and address the business’s needs at the right time.

“I was actually born in Macedonia. My parents, Risto and Rina, were blue-collar workers there, and back in 1973, they sold everything they had for a total of $1,000, and we immigrated to Canada. We landed here on December 24, Christmas Eve, and have really taken advantage of the opportunities that this great nation of Canada has provided us.”

Rogers Communications is very innovative, very leading-edge. At the same time, it also needs the structure of governance. Sometimes you need to slow down a little bit and smell the roses and create structure in the chaos. So my role at Rogers has to do with the operational-management piece of the puzzle. That’s where I started more than 10 years ago, so it’s full circle for my career. Rogers has started the journey of adopting enterprise IT service management, or ITSM. My role is to make sure people are trained in their roles for enterprise service management, to create what we call a multisupplier governance model, and to see if we can automate some of this through tools.

What gets me up in the morning is the ability to come into work and actually make a difference. I’m not a run-the-operations-forever kind of guy. I like the plan, I like the design, I like the implementation, and although I will operate, I’ll operate to a point of making sure everything’s okay and then go on and do something else. If I’m not challenged, I get bored.

My management style is really about clearly defining roles, responsibilities, and functions. I manage by objectives, letting people be accountable for those roles and only come to me if they have an issue or concern. A big component is coaching. All of my people have mentors and succession plans. As leaders, we need to make sure we’re planning on who will replace us and who will replace our teams as well.

If a company doesn’t put IT at the executive table, it’s making a big mistake. Because in everything that happens in most companies today, IT plays a big part, and I think it will only get more and more important. Now that we’re at the table as CIOs, we have the responsibility to start simplifying IT. We need to explain things in business terms rather than technology terms.