Here are the 7 best practices, security risks, and critical technological aspects to consider for a merger, acquisition, or divestiture. In order to be successful and keep overhead costs at bay, your technology platforms (IT) must be at the forefront of your strategy and planning. Understand the advantages of planning and forethought now, that will set you up for success later.
What’s Involved in a Merger, Acquisition, and/or Divestiture?
You may think the only goal for projects like these is to lift and shift to a consolidated technology platform so that all users are on one source of truth. While that is an important piece of it, what we find here at JourneyTEAM, working with companies of all sizes and situations, is it goes much deeper than that.
When a new organization is merged with an existing organization or removed to stand alone from an existing organization, disruption occurs. Much like the larger idea of disruption in a marketplace or vertical, this causes a transformation of processes for one party or the other. Understanding where synergies exist between two merging organizations, for example, can help reduce costs and streamline the merger process. Conversely, understanding gaps that will be created for a new organization splitting from its parent company could be the difference between lost revenue and unnecessary costs and a more efficient divestiture.
In our experience, many companies have changed or transformed some portion of their business on the technology front and are enjoying the efficiencies that come with such a change, but it only improves a small portion of their technology footprint leaving the remaining platforms to play catchup. A merger or acquisition, we find, quickly reveals the weak points in a technology strategy that has not considered and rectified as much of its technical debt as possible. Much like adding a new part to an older car engine, the change can put undue pressure on other legacy parts of the machine causing premature failures at the worst possible time.
Where to Start
Digital transformation is more than just moving an application to a cloud platform or adopting a SaaS version of an existing tool. Business processes and paradigms are what require the technology in the first place. to change the technology, evaluating the processes, policies and paradigms that use and require those technologies is a core consideration and must be at the forefront to avoid future pitfalls and set your organization up for success. It is not only a technology integration or separation, but more importantly a business process and paradigm shift. One that can require a lot of resources, C-level involvement, and expertise to avoid pitfalls.
IT is no longer a mere cost center. In the modern world, IT is the bedrock upon which the majority of all business processes run. It is your lifeline to business success. Technology in a business is ultimately going to drive non-IT policies, procedures, and morale.
More reason to go for the tried-and-true option, am I right?
The Microsoft technology stack has proven itself as an excellent platform for a vast majority of business scenarios- therefore the no-brainer when it comes to standardizing onto one connected platform. Microsoft Cloud (Azure, Modern Workplace, Business Applications) provides everything you need now, in the future, and better yet, you can customize as you need! Below are the 7 best practices that will lead to a successful merger and/or divestiture.
1. Assess the Situation
No matter the industry, all companies have the potential of being purchased or sold and if you’re even thinking either of these are on the horizon for your business, you’re in the right place!
Mergers, acquisitions and divestitures are complicated and sensitive projects that can put companies at risk- from a technology standpoint as well as a change management and user adoption point of view. For good reason, stakeholders are overwhelmed and many times, unsure of the next right step for a successful outcome. There are legalities, regulations, and entities involved that make these projects take longer than planned as well as become more costly. The technology experts at JourneyTEAM have helped companies of all sizes and situations, overcome these complicated journeys and the first step is to look inwardly and assess your unique situation.
2. Map It Out
How much technical debt do you hold today? Furthermore, how many platforms and applications do you leverage within your technology stack that make business happen?
It is never too early to get as lean as possible on your technology stack- ask yourself what is needed over what’s wanted? Making your tech stack as lean as possible means you'll be efficient and will better position you during a merger, acquisition or investment.
Making the move to modernizing technology before an acquisition scenario will also set you up for success. The less green-screen, legacy tools and data you have to deal with, the better!
One company had to make a tough decision on their product and device strategy. They had two options. One, spend budget on bringing people into the office or shipping a device out on their local domain. Two, modernize to a new technology to become more agile and mobile. The company chose to modernize during their merger to save money but also set them up for success.
3. Define Workloads
Looking at your business, define and map out the current workloads that include activities and milestones within technology processes. Then, you need to categorize those into different work streams. What technologies do you use, what are the differences, and what are the resources for those work streams? When you have a visual of the technologies in question, you can better decide which one(s) should and will be the main tenant or new source of truth.
Questions to Answer
What are your desired and profitable results?
What platforms achieve those desired results?
What technology is needed versus what technology is wanted?
What can you accomplish with both systems?
What can you accomplish with one or the other?
What resources do you have with skills to optimize on this technology?
Many times, clients ask about all the new features and those bells and whistles distract from the main purpose. Is the goal to modernize or migrate? The answer is both but very rarely at the same time. If you chose to modernize, realize your migration project will be on hold, taking longer than you expected.
4. Identify Priorities
The most critical concerns involve the cost and time it will take to fully move over or acquire another entity. We can’t tell you exactly what to expect in this guide, but we can give you three things to consider.
Renewal Timelines and Contract Terms
If you’re renewal is coming up quick for your current platform or you’re under a lengthy contract, this will ultimately drive your project timeline. Maybe it’s more time than you need, but sometimes it pushes things into high gear even if you aren’t ready. Our advice? Look into those timelines and contract terms now so you can plan around them when the time comes.
Budget for Duplicate Licensing
Even during a smooth, well-planned project, duplicate licensing can come into play for some period of time during cut over. Make sure you’ve allotted budget if this need arises, so you don’t have to hurry through critical points of the migration. Companies that plan for this, save the most money on duplicate licensing because it’s for the least amount of time possible.
As with any complicated project, understand that during discovery, your priorities may shift a bit and in turn, costs will as well. Once you agree this is a possibility, you can more easily pivot and scale your unique project to see success sooner than later.
5. Implement Staff Training and Change Management
When you’re aligning work streams with resources, you need to decipher whether you have enough staff with the right skill set to manage it. If there aren’t enough resources, how much time do you plan to invest in training internal people to level up?
In addition to training your people, make sure to design repeatable migration patterns to help accommodate additional migrations down the road. Companies going through this for the first time very likely see similar situations in the near future. Don’t recreate the wheel every time. Build a process and road map that works for you and keeps your employee’s morale high along with their productivity.
If you don’t have the proper in-house skill sets, look to a Partner for help and guidance. JourneyTEAM offers these types of services along with change management best practices to implement.
6. Attain C-Level Oversight and Involvement
Mergers, acquisitions, and divestitures can get emotional and even political, which ultimately stalls the project timeline and increases costs to all involved. When too many stakeholders are involved, arguments about the right or wrong way turn things hostile, while risking the success of the project.
The best way to overcome this political and emotional shuffle? C-level buy in from the top down, empowering timely decisions. When C-level stakeholders are involved and aware of what’s happening, you can better navigate those hard decisions and come out on the right side quickly.
7. Gauge Security Posture
Understanding your security posture on both sides of the situation — with all parties — is critical to a successful merger, acquisition, or divestiture. Security protocols are of utmost importance and must be a part of the discussion. If this is an afterthought, then you are putting your company at risk for targeted cyber-attacks and major delays.
At JourneyTEAM, we have seen an uptick of targeted attacks during acquisition and migrations especially when the news goes public. Cyber criminals know there is a new tool to sign in and click link — and they take advantage of that opportunity. Be careful and make sure the proper privacy and security protocols are in place before the news is out.
Security Precautions to take:
Prepare for a complete security true up and analysis. Before you get ready to move things around, make sure the source side of the merger is secure as well as the target side. Making sure the two sides are similar or the same will help you implement the necessary regulations and requirements with as little risk as possible.
Define administrators that will be key decision-makers. When you give that allowance to the entire IT team, it can really slow things down. Our experience is you need one point person, a champion, to help you get through those tricky decisions and unexpected detours.
Planning ahead is a major theme throughout this guide but we’ll say it again because it’s so important.
It’s never too early to engage with a partner for a discovery on your unique situation. Identifying work streams, timelines, budget, and resources will give you a complete picture as well as a sense of calm that you totally got this.
Our final piece of advice is "be completely honest about your technical debt” — with yourself, your company, and with Partners you engage with to help. Fess up to what you don’t know to avoid the pitfalls later on. At JourneyTEAM, we ask the hard questions, and "I don't know" is a perfectly good answer when you’re talking with us. run high and you may be feeling stuck in your current technology environment for various we hope this guide has calmed your fears of getting started.
To read customer examples for mergers and acquisitions, explore these customer stories:
Contact JourneyTEAM’s Merger, Acquisition, and Divestiture experts to set up your never-too-early discovery call.