Your Complete IT Checklist for Successful Mergers and Acquisitions

April 6, 2021 - by Synoptek

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Given how uncertain the business landscape has become, mergers and acquisitions are commonplace today. According to a report by PwC, 53% of companies in the US plan to increase their M&A investment in 2021. Policy changes, new tax laws, the ongoing pandemic, and poor economic recovery are all driving the growth of M&As. Not only do M&As enable access to a wider customer base, open doors to new products or assets, and pave the way for greater market share, they also allow for diversification of products at high speed and low costs.

But successful mergers are not just about two companies and their employees coming together; for a merger to really work, thorough planning and precision is needed in integrating the different IT elements that both organizations rely on to carry out their business.

Having a well-thought-of IT checklist (or even a standardized list of steps) in place ensures accurate prioritization of activities while making sure all tasks are done correctly on time and within budget. Here’s your complete IT checklist for a successful merger and acquisition:

1. Business Assessment

To ensure both businesses are on the same page:

  • Review common organizational policies such as information security policy, code of conduct, terms of use, and data classification policy
  • Identify any gaps in security controls, evaluate data protection capabilities, and assess the level of cyber risk
  • Evaluate results of previous audits and assessments and formulate improvement plans accordingly
  • Carry out well-developed due diligence and valuation to build an all-encompassing and comprehensive integration plan

2. IT Assessment

To carry out a comprehensive and thorough review of technology systems:

  • Make a list of all the IT systems, tools, and applications currently in use
  • Check for duplicate or overlapping systems and solutions
  • Identify systems that need to be modernized, integrated, or retired
  • Understand critical workloads

3. Contracts and Licenses

To establish transparency, transferability, and termination clauses:

  • Gather all contracts, agreements, and commitments with vendors and other service providers
  • Fully understand ownership and entitlements of software/hardware licenses to maintain healthy relationships as well as ensure compliance
  • Assess all internal contracts and commitments made to internal employees and include them in the transition plan
  • Carry out detailed third-party risk assessment to quantify risks of transfer and termination

4. Data Integration

To ensure seamless and accurate data integration and migration:

  • Carry out end-to-end data profiling to understand the quality and quantity of data present
  • Perform a data quality assessment against pre-determined metrics to understand what data needs to be integrated/migrated
  • Revise business expectations based on integration challenges and project costs and accordingly choose data to be integrated
  • Understand the criticality and necessity of different kinds of data – both from a logical perspective to confirm business requirements and a physical perspective to enable seamless integration/migration 

5. System Integration

To ensure IT systems are carefully and successfully integrated:

  • Prepare a detailed map of existing IT systems and infrastructure and communicate the same to other executives
  • Create an integration plan that lists all system integration activities in detail
  • Assess how IT infrastructure is currently managed and how it can be integrated or outsourced
  • Understand the scalability of existing systems and build an acquisition strategy that matches capabilities

6. Network Integration

To understand how networks will be combined or merged:

  • Determine whether the new entity that emerges from the M&A will remain on separate networks, merge into one of them, or be part of a completely new network that will be built
  • Understand the benefits, costs, and risks of each of these approaches and choose one that results in the most effective, minimally disruptive transition plan
  • Have a robust change management plan in place to ensure all changes are tracked, monitored, and documented for

7. Messaging

To ensure messaging continues to be an integral part of today’s collaborative workforce:

  • Determine which messaging service is currently in use by each organization in the M&A event
  • Understand if either of the two messaging platforms will be adopted or if a completely new system be implemented
  • Based on what platform is chosen, build a transition plan to ensure there is no disruption to employee communication or customer service

8. Security

To ensure the M&A results in the highest level of security:

  • Make sure to fully assess the cybersecurity posture of both organizations including data privacy standards, security controls, and access control mechanisms
  • Review existing IT security policies and audit results with respect to people, processes, and technology
  • Be sure to categorize all systems and devices – including unaccounted-for platforms and IoT devices
  • Prepare a list of all identified vulnerabilities and issues based on the industry, geography, partners, products, and services
  • Investigate any previous complaints or litigations around fraud, extortion, and ransom

9. Cost Assessment

Identify all costs associated with IT integration including:

  • Technology implementation/customization/integration/migration
  • M&A advisory and legal fees
  • Debt servicing and rebranding costs
  • Training, support, and maintenance

Despite how popular M&As have become, poor planning often causes deals to fail. To ensure success, adequate planning and due diligence needs to start at the beginning of the deal, and best practices, IT checklists and integration plans must be established before the deal closes. Having a robust IT checklist in place can not only bring two or more companies together, but also maximize synergies and the value they deliver as one entity.