Like any partnership, there are a lot of moving parts that go into an M&A. While not everything will be a resounding victory – there is one critical component of bringing separate entities together that organizations must get right: preserving or creating better data integrity, accuracy and alignment while combining and integrating systems.
Accurate, complete master data is essential for successful integration of acquired assets into an organization’s new or existing environments, yet maintaining the integrity of data assets is complicated during even a very successful M&A. Integrating and consolidating data in disparate enterprise systems, even if both environments are SAP, is one of the most costly and time-consuming challenges.
Here are nine questions you should ask yourself during the course of an M&A prior to the data migration or integration of multiple systems of records.
- Why are we doing this? Never lose sight of the business case(s) driving the integration. This answer should be guiding all activities, and it will help a company identify and place value on data that is most critical to drive acceleration of capabilities and integration.
- What type of integration are we supporting? Going back to question one, what systems need to be integrated to achieve the 'why?'. If the M&A is for marketing or financial reporting purposes, there may be systems that do not need to be fully integrated. There could be parts of the companies that don’t need to function as a single entity. Identification of where data resides and how that data is used within each entity is critical.
- What information actually matters for our goals? Figure out the data that actually matters and build the strategy around that – not around every single piece of data that exists in all systems. Redundant data also should be identified so it can be consolidated. To accomplish this - you need to have clear identification of what your goals are. This means bringing in stakeholders from across both parties to ensure there is one cohesive vision.
- What has each organization done particularly well that can be brought over or used to build one cohesive strategy? Identify the data processes and rules that worked in the separate companies, leveraging them to create a best practice roadmap. There’s a lot to be said from learning from others’ successes (and failures).
- What are the known issues with data quality? It can be tough to own up to some data quality issues, but most organizations have them, and it’s critical in an M&A to figure out where the problems live, the extent of the issues and what has led to inaccurate, incomplete or poor quality data. One way to do this is by conducting a Data Health Assessment. This will help assign a quality score to your data and identify opportunities for improvement.
- Does the information need to integrate, or can it simply coexist? Does the data in the combined systems need to be identical, or does it only need enough referential integrity that all parties/systems know what it is?
- How can we leverage our commonalities? If an organization can find synergies between disparate systems, it can connect the right pieces of information together to create a more complete record.
- What programs or priorities might contradict or complement the systems integration effort? Understand what else is going on within the organization that might dovetail into these efforts – or create additional challenges.
- How can we set up our IT and business teams for success? This needs to be addressed in two parts: How to set up the teams to be successful during the systems integration, and how they can sustain that success over the long term.
By connecting multiple systems and environments with the confidence of clean master data, merging organizations can significantly improve decision making and enable a more agile, efficient and effective enterprise.