Business mergers are like merging onto a busy highway. You need to make the move to go with the flow, allow flexibility of those around you, and get going in the right direction. However, just like merging into traffic, undergoing a merger in the business world might include people cutting you off, speeding around you, and, if you are part of IT, expecting you to make the biggest move. Mary Shacklett lists 10 ways for anyone to survive a merger when IT is a concern. She considers IT to be right at the heart of the action:
Mergers are a fact of corporate life. They also require IT to play a major role because different system must be consolidated. The work IT performs in mergers is so mission-critical that if it’s determined that systems can’t be readily consolidated and made to work together, the merger might be called off. Needless to say, performing IT work for a merger is risky ““ not only technically but politically.
Understanding what is at stake is crucial to weathering the storm. Some jobs may remain after the merger, while other jobs and skill sets will be let go. This will most likely cause discord among employees, and it is important to anticipate unhappiness if you ever hope to deal with it. Some exiting employees may be so angered by the merger that they may withhold information in an attempt to create what would amount to an IT failure. If you need to slow the project down in an attempt to deal with this or similar situations, Shacklett suggests you do so for the mutual benefit of the merging companies.
When two systems do not merge well, it may be better advised to leave them separate and employ a third option system to be put in place further down the road. Communication on this and other issues is vital as well. Seemingly small problems tend to simmer then eventually boil over if not addressed. When anxiety is relieved, productivity increases. Communication is also crucial during highly advised walk-arounds. Just as some people will lose their job due to a merger, others will find themselves promoted. When you watch the people you are in turn watching out for the success of the project.
Since vendors are not pleased to lose accounts, they will most likely not be overly willing to assist with any issues associated with their separation. If this “non-cooperation” is conveyed to top-level managers early on, it will become less of an issue late in the game. In that same vein, be sure to always have a plan B and prepare as best as possible for any unforeseen issues. Makes sure employees feel that they can come to you with any of these issues. Finally, stand your ground. If you cut over to production before you are ready, you may end up with a bigger mess than when you started.