How to manage IT during mergers and acquisitions

IT departments are usually faced with exceptionally short time frames for integrating IT systems during mergers and acquisitions (M&As). With M&As on the up and up, especially in the security sector, this is becoming an increasingly pressing concern.

Subpar IT integration, especially when integrating disparate IT architectures, can be extremely detrimental in terms of lost productivity and sales, reputational damage and impact on staff morale.

Here are some best practice guidelines that can help IT decision makers ensure that this process runs smoothly and punctually.

Do your due diligence

You effectively need to change the wheels without stopping the car. Aligning systems and processes as far as possible in the lead up to 'D-day' and identifying any major IT integration issues that will need to be resolved in advance can save time and resources.

Align IT with Finance

Costs and delays are the two main bumps in what can often be an unnecessarily painful IT transformation process. CIOs and CFOs need to work closely to ensure a clear budget is mapped out and agreed to achieve the necessary IT integration roadmap and timescales.

Get the right skills on board

Technology continues to advance at an ever-faster pace, which requires ever-deeper technology expertise in new areas such as cloud computing and application management. Once you have your integration roadmap defined, start on-boarding / outsourcing any additional skills to ensure your teams are fully equipped to deliver what's required.

Move fast

There is a need for operating at pace in the transition from pre to post M&A IT services and value in streamlining activities that may otherwise cause delays. Key milestones need to be defined against a clear goal of the target operating model. The more agile your IT platform, the easier it will be to move at speed, for example moving to a Cloud-based infrastructure can significantly reduce set up times

Communicate!

In the uncertainty surrounding an M&A process, it is important to communicate clearly with stakeholders. Employees need to be kept up to date with changes taking place in their workspace, so they know what to expect and when – this will minimise any downtime across the business and maintain the user experience.

Having a clear communications roadmap for IT pre, during and post M&A activity is invaluable.

Finally, don't go it alone

Talk to an organisation that has been through this before, as having knowledge and understanding of the success factors is key. Those who have been through the pain can share their experiences of what worked well and what didn't – ensuring you sidestep the pitfalls and benefit from their learning.

Mark Cook is CEO at global ICT services provider, Getronics.