Tag Archives: acquisition

The definitive guide to network integrations from acquisitions

Here are some rules to help your next acquisition and network integration.

First, there is no such guide. Every acquisition, every company is different. While you may learn some useful processes during any given project, don’t assume they will work for the next acquisition. If you find yourself saying “This is just like…” stop yourself, you will be trying to put a square peg in a round hole.

Second, check your ego at the door. I don’t care how many times you have done this before, as i said previously this one is different and you will need help. Make sure your M&A team is bringing someone from the enterprise technology group early so you can identify members of the new IT team that you can dedicate to the integration project.

Third, have a plan for your new colleagues. Your VP or CxO should speak with all the new team members as soon as they can legally know about the acquisition. Learn about what they do today, what they are capable of and what they want to do tomorrow. Even if you can’t give them all their dream job, give them a job, a title in your group and an understanding of how they will contribute after all the migration work is done. If part of the acquisition is letting some/all of the team go, be upfront and honest with clear time lines.

Fourth, identify some easy wins early and rip the band-aid off. One such migration that I am a fan of doing (almost) immediately is moving the level 1 helpdesk. Eventually you will be supporting the new companies associates, what better way for your helpdesk to learn than by doing and gaining insights and best practices from the existing helpdesk team. If this is not a practical step (again every company is different) maybe something like intranets or public websites work better but pick something and move on it quickly. The best integration I worked on, an engineer showed up the day the deal was signed with a server under his arm, we brought up the VPN and had the domain trust in place within a day – that was an easy, necessary win that got the team working together immediately.

Fifth, have a plan, move quickly but don’t forget about testing. So you worked for months doing your due diligence – you know what they have for systems, how many users, how they use those systems so its time to get your migration on right? Wrong! Talking about how someone does something will never replace real testing.

Finally, understand the integration is about 1 thing and 1 thing only – the user experience. I don’t care if you move a petabyte of data from Sydney to Boston in 15 minutes (well I do so please blog about it), all the employees care about is how you affected their ability to do their job. All the technical acts of heroism don’t mean a thing if your users are not happy. We are all IT service providers so make sure your customers are happy.

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What To Do in the First 90 Days of a Turn-Around by Sallie Krawcheck via LinkedIn

There was a great post last week on LinkedIn by Sallie Krawcheck about what to do during the first 90 days of a turn around.  I highly recommend everyone read the article as many of the concepts can apply to you very quickly (you are acquired, management change etc…).  You can find the full article here (https://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20121113154043-174077701-what-to-do-in-the-first-90-days-of-a-turn-around?_mSplash=1) but there were a few key points that I really loved.

Listen – probably the most underrated tool in your arsenal anytime you are going through a change.  While past experience is certainly great, not everything will fit into the same box.  For example if your company acquires another, they might seem like a typical remote office to you but they are probably more like your corporate headquarters in terms of complexity and politics than one of your small remote offices with limited people, departments and infrastructure.

Don’t put down the team that came before you – another important option and one that can be sometimes hard to ignore but its important listen to both sides of the story.  I once worked at a company where the IT manager was replaced, for seemingly a multitude of reasons but the ‘last straw’ was a project that was perceived to go very poorly.  In actuality, the request from senior management was a no win situation for him – do something he had never done, in a condensed period of time with no budget…. the IT manager didn’t stand a chance in that project.  In fact, what he was able to do in 3 days (versus 2 imposed on him by management and what I would argue could have and should have been a 2-3 month project with their resources) was nothing short of amazing and he would have received praise from me for what he did.  Coming in and bad mouthing the previous manager would have been easy, but I also would have been wrong.  Months later when I uncovered the entire story I brought it up in a meeting when the former manager was being put down – he was never spoken of poorly again (at least when I was in ear shot).

The last point Sallie makes is to move quickly.  This is important – I have been through several acquisitions and the one that was by far the best was also the quickest.  The day the acquisition was announced a guy showed up (well not any guy he was a systems engineer with the new company) with a server under his arm.  In less than a day we were on the corporate VPN, had new VLANs defined that fit into their existing structure and a domain trust and new domain controller on the network.  Now it was just flipping switches – email person by person was flawless and didn’t impact anyone but for more than a couple of hours, user accounts and existing systems were moved and readdressed but no one lost access.