Technology teams are vital to the daily operations of virtually every business and organization. Multinational infrastructures, cloud computing services, the printer (PC load letter?) — all of that and more are the responsibility of the technology team. When those things don’t work, teams don’t work, and productivity stops.
The Playbook for a Problem-Free Transition
Most IT teams have a heavy load on any typical business-as-usual day. Throw in a merger or acquisition (M&A) along with everything that’s required for that to go down successfully and things get a whole lot heavier. An M&A is no time for an organization to be blue-screened, bricked, or otherwise slowed down by technology-related problems.
Tech teams play a huge role in ensuring that all digital assets, processes, and responsibilities are combined, kicked off, and rolled out, among other things. Thorough planning and ongoing communication are essential for bringing these projects to life. Let’s look at how the technology team can ensure a seamless M&A transition.
1. Perform an Audit of the Entire System
Organizations, even ones in the same industry, often have wildly different operating structures, especially when it comes to technology. Architecture, services, third-party dependencies, and more that were separate now need to join together and work as one. The only way that will happen is with a clear understanding of the system as a whole.
Perform a full assessment and take inventory of any systems affected by the M&A. Although the in-house technology team needs to understand the in-house technology better than anyone, many organizations bring in change-management consultants to help out with this step and the subsequent migration that follows.
2. Bring the Technology Team Itself Up to Speed
It’s not enough to simply have an inventory checklist of every technology-related asset or resource the organizations have and will have under their control. The technology team also needs a current understanding of how those resources work and are maintained. Who will be responsible for managing what? Are any certifications required?
In addition to formal training, get into the field and converse with the people who use the technology. In-person meetings, a large-scale Zoom call — whatever makes sense for your organization, do it. Not only will it help roll out any IT-related information, but it’ll help the cultural push (which should also be a priority in the M&A plan).
3. Educate the Organization
Third-party vendors, system maintenance, new login credentials any and everywhere — the tech team will have to systematically disseminate this information to the people who will be impacted. Creating and sharing a roll-out schedule and keeping it up-to-date at all times is imperative. Fewer problems arise when everyone knows and can see the plan.
It’s helpful for these educational conversations to be two-way, as well. If new solutions are being considered, get some input from the teams who will use them the most or be affected by their implementation. Including everyone in the discussion can help get the buy-in necessary for everyone to contribute to making the transition seamless.
4. Be Available
Roll-out is an all-hands-on-deck situation. Expect to receive more help desk tickets than usual and amp up resources to handle it. Don’t let productivity slow-downs happen due to a technology-related downtown that could’ve been prevented with better planning or faster response.
It’s also wise to identify your account managers and contacts at all third-party service vendors and communicate the transition plan with them, too. Make sure that they’re aware of anything pertinent and ready to be available if they’re needed. Right in the middle of an M&A isn’t when you want to be left wondering who to call because some tech thing broke.
5. Pay Attention to Security and Regulatory Compliance
Maintaining security has to be a given throughout the entire M&A process. It’s no time for a breach yet, with all the moving parts and pieces, it’s the perfect time for one to happen. CTOs need to take steps to make sure security best practices are in place and followed throughout the entire M&A process.
The same is true for regulatory compliance. It’s an area that, for most companies, requires a lot of extra steps and expenses outside of intuitive day-to-day operations. If you’re not actively seeking to satisfy the requirements you’re beholden, liability can follow. Tech teams need to work with the legal team to make sure security and compliance requirements are met.
Putting It All Together
Even the most thoroughly planned and executed M&A will stress an organization at every seam. Morale, culture, and output will be tested as new tools and processes are adopted and old ones are laid to rest. It’s not the time for the email to be inaccessible, or the website to not work, or any of the other million problems that arise and make us say, “What the hell is this?!”
Tech teams can make a major contribution in the effort to achieve a seamless transition during an M&A. Understanding the technical resources at hand, thoroughly planning any system updates, and effective communication with the impacted teams and organization as a whole are all key strategies that’ll ensure growing pleasures and not pains.