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Avoid post-M&A chaos: 4 ways to integrate IT Ops faster

Greg Bentham Vice President Cloud Infrastructure Services, Capgemini North America

You are an IT leader at an organization that just announced a merger. The C suite is eager to combine both companies’ capabilities to accelerate transformation and innovation, filling gaps that will make this new, dual-threat business, a powerful combination in the market.

But there’s a problem. Your organization had fully migrated to the cloud, but the newly merged company still has a sizable portion of its data housed in data centers. Your organization also has a robust and mature cybersecurity program, but the other company is barely meeting compliance regulations.

These disparities create a complex integration challenge. The two organizations must integrate their IT and cloud infrastructures, reconciling into one company, with one overarching IT program. But when the two companies are on opposites sides of the maturity spectrum, it can be much more difficult to make the puzzle pieces fit together.

Given the current economic situation, experts expect an increase in mergers and acquisitions in 2021. For IT leaders who find themselves managing one, here are four areas where IT can streamline an M&A migration.  

Don’t waste time: Cross-train and elevate the technical superstars

When IT infrastructure isn’t compatible, it can take as long as a year to fully transition. This leaves both organizations vulnerable to cyber attacks and drives up unnecessary costs associated with paying licensing for, and maintaining, multiple tools that have the same function. A common issue that surfaces is a difference in the maturity level of each organization and understanding which IT assets are in the environment.

Is there a right to use those assets, and are those assets being used in an optimal manner? More often than not, organizations burn up precious time trying to answer these fundamental questions. The establishment of a mixed team of SMEs, focused on pulling together a total view of the ecosystem into a configuration management database (CMDB) or similar, gives a realistic perspective on the scale of complexity and interdependencies.  

Another obstacle that can extend the integration time is when teams aren’t properly skilled on the new technologies from the merged or acquired organization. Having a solid training plan where key SMEs, who are fluent in operating these technologies, establish a plan to cross-train the lesser skilled team members goes a long way toward solving this problem. This approach drives a positive outcome for both sides. The SME is elevated in the organization, potentially to a functional lead, and the learner expands professional acumen.

To address complexity, start with the data

Organizations using different applications, platforms, and cloud providers can complicate the process of a smooth and seamless M&A transition. But when you distill it down, the data is what the business needs and cares about. IT leaders should be thinking about how they will present data in a way that is easy for the business to consume and leverage. Ultimately, this is what drives the rationalization of applications, infrastructure, and the cybersecurity policy and controls that surround that data.

Have the CTO assess each IT operation’s maturity level

If one organization has advanced capabilities, the other will need to evolve to meet that same standard when the M&A occurs. This is possible with a clear plan that addresses this need head on. There is a natural propensity for each organization to come to the table with the belief that how it does things is the best way—regardless of where it sits on the maturity scale.

The important point here is that in the absence of standards, the risk profile increases from the combined entity in both the cost to operate and cost to protect. Ideally, the enterprise architecture function, typically led by a CTO, has a great opportunity to limit these risks when they’re surfaced early.

Manage C suite's expectations up front

Executives often make M&A decisions to improve the business and bring on new capabilities, but they aren’t typically aware of the time, effort, complexity, and added cost from the IT side to fully complete these transitions. Bringing IT leadership in early is intended to infuse the correct dose of reality about the proposed M&A.

What is likely to surface is one of two major outcomes: The business accepts IT’s position and carries it forward to execution, or the business is looking for a bolder approach, in which case a change agent needs to be introduced into the mix. Either outcome allows the business to manage expectations with its customers and markets.

Go forth and streamline your M&A migration

The M&A process can bring many challenges for IT leaders, but with the right playbook, you can execute more efficiently and with fewer roadblocks. Converting two full IT infrastructures into one takes collaboration, planning, organization, and, above all, leadership.

By understanding the maturity and complexity of both companies and setting the right expectations with the C suite for how long the IT integration can take, your IT organization can prove its value as a business enabler instead of slowing the pace.

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