If your company is merging with or acquiring another company, consolidating IT infrastructure is key to your success. Do it well and you leverage the best of both worlds without downtime. Do it not-so-well and you can torpedo the transition and maybe even the business objectives.
Integrating IT systems is complicated but with a good team in place, solid planning, and a carefully managed and prioritized road map, you can pull it off even under a super-tight deadline. Here are nine things to consider:
1. The acquiring company’s IT system won’t necessarily be the predominant one.
It can seem logical that the IT system of the company being acquired will be integrated into the system of the company doing the acquisition, but that’s not always the case. Sometimes the acquired company has better IT infrastructure. High-quality infrastructure may even be the reason the company is being acquired. Most often, however, the integrated system is a mix of both, with some of each being retained.
2. Good documentation of IT infrastructure matters.
When one company has better as-built IT documentation than the other, that’s the company that’s more likely to absorb the other. The existence of current as-built diagrams — not just the original design diagrams because things change when your IT infrastructure is actually setup — and up-to-date software licensing (such as for all Microsoft Office users) makes scaling much easier and faster. Documentation also verifies existing assets.
3. Understand all of the IT assets and how they’re used — fast.
What IT assets does each company own? What equipment is at each location? How old is the equipment? Where are the data centers located? Which service providers are each company using? What are the operational processes of each company? The speed and accuracy with which you can collect this information impacts each step moving forward.
4. Know what you want the integrated system to accomplish.
Now comes the fun part — rolling up your sleeves and figuring out how to leverage what you have (and still need) to meet the business objectives of the merger. You will need to:
- Conduct a gap analysis that covers all hardware, software, platforms and anything specific for each line of business
- Evaluate all of the service providers, including ISPs, data service companies and platforms
- Determine what’s redundant and what to keep
5. Create a detailed road map.
A structured methodology is the only way to go — there are far too many details to approach it any other way. Key parts of the road map are how much integration is needed before the companies can be joined and which initiatives to prioritize based on business impact and ease of implementation.
6. Understand what the current IT teams are capable of.
Does the current IT team have the expertise to handle each step of the integration process? Can they absorb the extra work? Will they be able to manage the combined infrastructure once the two systems are consolidated? Identify the IT integration leadership team early and assign responsibilities early, too. This also helps alleviate uncertainty in both companies.
7. Experienced IT advisors add structure and discipline.
Bringing in an advisor or advisory team that has done a lot of integration work helps you make good decisions and can also help you execute merger activities if you need them to. Their experience analyzing and consolidating assets, doing the technical mapping, sequencing priorities, and making recommendations about new investments can be invaluable to the process. They’ll also have access to additional resources like engineers and automation tools.
8. Automation tools help … a lot.
Integrating IT systems can be labor-intensive and it usually needs to be done quickly, so the more that can be automated, the better. For example, a domain migration tool can take the security profile info from one business, map it and change the permissions into a script, and then move it from one system to the other. Without this tool, domain migration could take one to two hours to complete per computer. Unless one of the two companies is in the IT business, it’s highly unlikely they’ll own automation tools for systems integration.
9. First, do no harm.
Throughout the integration process, IT departments still need to keep the lights on! Successfully integrating two IT systems means the businesses need to continue to operate as usual during the consolidation. Some companies choose not to integrate right away and end up running one company in two different environments. This is inefficient and costly in the long run and not recommended.
Most mergers and acquisitions need a partner to help them integrate IT systems. It’s complicated work that can become even more complicated if it’s not done methodically. Leapfrog often works with merging companies because as a managed IT service provider we take on new clients into our managed technology framework every day — this process is normal to us. We have the engineers, tools and staff on hand, and we’ve done it countless times with diverse businesses. If your company needs to integrate IT systems for a merger or acquisition, or if you just want to talk about the possibilities, feel free to contact us. We can engage as much or as little as you need to help you through the process.