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How M&A IT projects differ from a traditional IT project

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Hutton Henry

In order to plan a more effective M&A IT transformation and deliver a better "Day One" solution it is essential to understand the characteristics that are different within a M&A IT transformation. Being aware of these differences will allow better planning - hence here are the five main differences of a M&A IT project:

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  • Multiple parties. Rather than have a single IT team developing a solution for a single business, within a M&A project there are at least two businesses, two IT teams, two business testing teams. Hence the programme manager has a major task to bring these parties, with their own agendas and concerns, together to deliver a major change.
  • Scope. Rather than focus on a specific business need or a single technology implementation, an M&A IT project will generally mean an entire IT infrastructure will need to be assessed and moved into a new environment. This company-wide scope impacts the entire project workforce - the team will need expertise across all technologies, and multiple changes will be required across many services at simultaneously.  Therefore, the wide scope of simultaenous change can complicate the initiative.
  • Public awareness. Once a M&A deal has been announced, the date to complete the initial day one integration may also be announced. Hence the pressure to deliver upon this date - and not allow it to slip will be high.
  • Deadline. The deadline may often be set before a full IT assessment takes place, as the deadline will be driven by the business owners. With public awareness and a deadline in place the pressure internally to keep to this deadline will be high. If the project slips the joint IT team may lose confidence in the programme.
  • Transformation and Synergy options. During the Due Diligence stage the services will be assessed based on some of the assumptions that were made during the early stages of the M&A deal. During this assessment IT services may be nominated for decommission, "lift and shift", transformation or synergetic change. It may be the case that the M&A deal assumes some cost savings based on the amalgamation of shared services such as finance and HR. Or during the M&A programme there is an opportunity to transform some of the underlying technology platform(s).

A M&A IT integration programme can be challenging but also very rearding when "Day One" is considered a success and business continues to operate after the transformation.  The people and technical challenges are further amplified due to the wide scope of a M&A IT transformation and the inherent complexity.

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