Solving data management dilemmas during mergers and acquisitions

Mergers and acquisitions, no matter the side of the transaction, make for a stressful time. In my career I’ve been a part of each side, and once I was able to step past the question of whether my job would be retained, the next concern in mind went straight to how the merger would affect both my role and my day-to-day obligations.

I found this to be particularly true when I was the Chief of Staff for a large healthcare organization. After my company was acquired, the purchasing firm took full ownership of the technology integration practice and proceeded without any input from me or my project management team. As current employees, we felt forgotten, and it made this already stressful period in my professional life even worse. I remember thinking that if the company didn’t value our opinions when they acquired us, would they value our ideas as we moved forward?

This experience still sticks with me in my current role at Redpath, where every day we help clients navigate the challenges of mergers and acquisitions as they pertain to their Salesforce solutions and data.

Here is my advice to help the merger of your Salesforce solutions go as smoothly as possible.

Bring in outside support

While the instance I described above was one of the lowest points of my career, I’ve also been a part of positive M&As, instances where both companies recognized that their employees were passionate about the work they did and how they performed their tasks.

These companies understood that people want to hold on to what they believe in and that bringing in a neutral, third-party consultant was the best way to drive innovation and integrate the best aspects offered by both companies. Hiring an outside third party eliminates the “us versus them” mentality and provides a non-biased observer who can look at the full spectrum of possibilities.

I found having this outside viewpoint as part of a merger helped alleviate those defensive feelings I was holding regarding my existing processes and made me more receptive to the expert’s recommendations. I think your employees will experience this as well.

Find common ground with the right people at the table

When it comes to company representatives necessary for a Salesforce project, less is more. Ideally, the group should only include each company’s Salesforce owners or subject matter experts as well as the third-party administrator. More opinions than that and you’re apt to muddy the path and hinder progress.

The subject matter experts have tremendous insight into their existing workflows, and your administrator should ask the right questions to identify the objectives. The answers found here will move the project along much more quickly.

Don’t ditch discovery

Discovery is such an important part of any project and yet it’s the stage so many companies want to skip. They believe they can simply plow forward and save time and money by cutting this stage. In fact, the opposite is true. A good discovery phase identifies potential project roadblocks before they become a problem. This allows you to handle them in a more cost- and time-effective way early on.

For example, perhaps your Salesforce changes will require a regulatory review you were unaware of. Identifying this in discovery phase allows you to plan for this eventuality instead of grinding the project to a halt while waiting for review.

Conducting a thorough discovery means asking tough questions and navigating difficult conversations, but they’re worth having. The long-term success of your project will be better for it.

Merging people and personalities is more important than merging businesses

No matter your industry, when it comes to navigating Salesforce within a merger, you’re in a people business. Some situations can be handled within the immediate team of subject matter experts. Others have to be raised up for a more strategic discussion. Understanding what is a make or break for both teams can help you identify potential points for compromise and places where tough decisions will need to be made.

Identifying these issues during your initial discovery is a great way to start thinking of solutions as well as understand why such issues are so paramount to each party. Above all, make sure that all sides have their voice heard and try to balance the power dynamic as much as possible.

Document everything

Yes, everything. If both sides can come to the table with thorough documentation of their current processes, your timeline will be simplified. This is rarely the case, however, so creating a complete document of your new process can work not only as training material but as a document of reference for future projects.

Recognize that sometimes coexistence is necessary

Yes, it’s possible that even the most thorough discovery process and the best working team can’t deliver the perfect result. Sometimes the processes of two companies simply don’t mesh. Everyone at the table should ask themselves: “Does it make sense to bring these two systems together?”

Sometimes the answer is no.

In cases such as these, you may have to keep coexisting systems. This is the last resort for many reasons, but it’s one I’ve seen employed in the past with successful results.

Try to find a single solution if you can, but if you can’t, it’s better to run with two optimal systems than one sub-optimal system.

Reach out if you have any questions

If your company is beginning the merger of your Salesforce solutions, we can help. Contact us today to set up a consultation.

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