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Three steps to success with mergers and acquisitions

Thu, 25th May 2023

Multiple factors weigh into the decision to merge with or acquire another company, and IT systems are a key element. 

In general, the sooner they can be integrated after a merger or acquisition, the sooner the combined companies can take advantage of benefits like streamlined business functions, improved communications, enhancing customer service and collaboration.

When executing a migration as part of a merger or acquisition, planning should begin before an agreement is finalised. Often the project can be complicated by the involvement of multiple IT teams, different environments, and the uncertainty of dramatic organisational change.

But with the right strategies, partners and tools, techs can deliver a timely integration so employees don’t miss a beat. So let’s discuss best practices for M&A migrations in three phases: before, during and after.

Before

The key to a successful migration is to start planning early. In the case of a merger or acquisition, this can present a challenge if there are limits on inter-organisational communications. But the more that can be set in motion in the beginning, the easier it will play out in the end.

Before the migration, an organisation should create an IT task force, assess the environment, make a plan and select a migration tool.

  • Create an IT task force: This should include key players from both companies’ internal IT teams. Identify who will oversee the project and make sure team members understand their roles and the overall objectives of the organisational change. Frequent meetings of the IT task force can minimise miscommunication that could delay the migration. It should identify important stakeholders within both organisations to ensure their needs are understood. This is also a good time to begin outlining a communication plan explaining the process to all system users.
  • Assess the environments: An early assessment will ensure what needs to be moved and when. It may include identifying large data sets that require more time and effort to migrate. There may be reasons to leave some workloads behind. Part of the assessment is to locate where the data is stored and assemble an inventory showing data quality and value.
  • Make a plan: Migration planning can begin well in advance of the scheduled cutover. This includes identifying a strategy that best suits the needs of an organisation. For example, whether to migrate in batches or all at once. Developing a migration plan keeps all internal departments on the same page and helps to manage the expectations of your leadership teams and stakeholders.
  • Pick a tool: Once a team assesses the environments to be combined and develops a migration plan, they will have a better idea of which migration tool will be best suited to the job. Select an application that offers a variety of licence options. Which one is chosen will depend on the workloads needing to be moved and the size and timeline of the migration. Compare licences online or contact professionals to discuss the project.

During

It’s important to keep communication flowing during the migration, especially in an M&A scenario. There will be a lot of pressure to complete the project quickly so the combined organisations can begin to function as one. But this is also where a lack of coordination can result in data or productivity losses. Continue to lean on the IT task force while moving into the migration phase.

  • Set up collaboration: When all is ready to start the migration process, consider migrating the productivity platform first. This way, teams can immediately begin working and communicating together. Once that’s completed, start migrating the other systems and applications.
  • Communicate: A lot of what happens during a migration goes on behind the scenes, but that doesn’t mean it should be kept a secret. Communication is critical, and it should be done at all levels of the organisation. Once a date is set, notify users and let them know what to expect. Make sure users know who to contact if they’re concerned about a particular work function or if they discover an issue impacting their productivity. Be sure to provide progress reports, and don’t forget to announce once the transition is complete. If the plan changes for any reason, let everyone know.
  • Test: With a leading migration app, it’s easy to set up tests that will alert the team to issues that might impact timing or data integrity. This allows them to monitor the process and make sure concerns are dealt with as soon as they are detected.

After

The migration cutover date isn’t the end of a project. Activities during the post-migration timeframe can help the combined organisations take full advantage of their integrated platform and ensure a stable, worry-free environment.

  • Commit to consistent maintenance: Consistent maintenance is vital for preventing minor issues from snowballing into more complicated problems. Be sure data governance protocols are being followed and security updates are a top priority.
  • Educate the organisation: Employees impacted by a merger or acquisition will have lots to get used to. This may include everything from a new manager to different processes and procedures. If they’ve also been switched to an unfamiliar collaboration platform, it’s important to provide them with training, tips and support to help them get up to speed quickly.
  • Make the most of the new environment: If a merger or acquisition means an organisation now gets to take advantage of working in the cloud, executives need to be sure they are prepared to make the most of it.

So there’s lots to think about when an organisation is planning a merger or acquisition. A migration may be inevitable, but the tech team can make it the smoothest part of the transition. Don’t hesitate to seek advice from people with the expertise and resources able to make sure the migration is a success.

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