Nick's Notes

Barb’s Blogs – M&A – a view from the sidelines

I think we are about to live in ‘interesting times’ again. When I review some conversations over the last few months, Mergers and Acquisitions has come up as much as any of the conventional subjects. I hear it from both points of view, as the acquirer and the acquired. Both situations are not easy.

Where the CIO gets a sense that his or her organisation is in ‘hunting’ mode, it is worthwhile putting in some early scenario planning. Whether you are a part of the ‘team’ or not, pretty quickly it will probably affect you and every project you plan to deliver for the next year. Unless your organisation is one of the rare beasts, a company that can acquire another and then leave it alone, there is likely a need to benefit from the synergies of the two organisations – and we know what that means. You will be asked to integrate, or replace the other company’s IT systems in indecent haste.

If you are the acquired (surprise!) you will be asked every indecent question while probably wondering what the future looks like for yourself and that great team that you have built up.

In the past, we have worked with CIOs and IT Leaders on both sides of the M&A line, and even had a workshop around this subject in our conference a couple of years ago. Like all stressful and challenging activities, it provides stretch opportunities. We have run onsite workshops to help people think through the activities in a realistic way, measuring the odds and likely outcomes and helping them to come out of the situation winning, whichever side of the M&A post they are. Coincidentally, most of us at CIO Connect have been through these situations personally, so we speak realpolitik.

There is an old Australian expression, ‘Make every post a winning post’ and preparation and planning usually makes the difference. I’d be really happy to hear of other people’s experiences, and particularly lessons learned around this subject, because I think we are about to go into a M&A active period as much because of the cash that is sloshing around in some organisations with no real investment home to go to. What are your thoughts?

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