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Managing concurrent M&A with business transformation activities

By Will Ruiz,  will.ruiz@hp.com

Companies use mergers and acquisitions (M&A) to expand global reach, enter new markets and focus on their core brands. In some cases, they also make acquisitions to optimize their supply chain operations and routes to market. Whatever motive or scale, it’s always done with the assumption that significant synergies can be gained by combining the entities in question.

M&A activities have long been part of consumer packaged goods (CPG) company playbooks. Many major CPG companies have grown to their current size through acquisitions; However, there are some differences with today’s M&A activities. After years of running multiple disparate brands and business units, many are proactively trying to integrate new acquisitions while consolidating current holdings as part of internal business transformation programs. This parallel set of activities significantly drives up the complexity of delivering business value to the corporation. 

The business process consolidation and optimization that are part of M&A and transformation programs typically require that IT organizations play a key role in enabling the planned-for business value and forecasted synergies.  Therefore, it’s important to involve technology leaders in business transformation and M&A activities as early as possible. In the case of an acquisition, for example, this would be from the time a potential candidate has been identified until the time post-merger integration activities have been completed. 

By participating early in the process, technology staff can help create an accurate, prioritized roadmap of projects for both concurrent sets of strategic initiatives.

In many cases, merging entities have different providers that use different business and technology processes. In order to be successful, they must also sort through the consolidation of business process consulting and technology service providers. Merged companies need to carefully orchestrate their strategic service providers into a collaborative eco-system that is capable of delivering both synergy and business value commitments. 

Companies faced with this challenge should consider adopting an enterprise program management framework to help guide them through combined M&A and business transformation programs. An enterprise program office can provide the standardized methodologies, best practices, tools and techniques needed to support complex program and project management. In addition, enterprises should incorporate a multi-vendor governance capability into the framework in order to enable them to seamlessly integrate the work effort of multiple service providers and internal organizations.

Companies that need help in establishing a multi-vendor governance framework can leverage a strategic service provider – or prime contractor – to help create, staff and manage the environment. The prime contractor will ensure there is alignment and integration of business, technology and outsourcing strategies; deliver communications transparency across all parties; as well as help manage risk. Using a prime contractor does not mean a company gives up control – they still decide what to outsource, who the suppliers are and what the vendor contract strategies will be.

In multi-vendor environments, all vendors must be prepared to handle new levels of complexity. Clear delineation of roles and responsibilities is critical, as is ensuring common languages, processes, standards and tools are used.  It is also important to foster open, honest business relationships between vendors.

While there is no “standard” approach to successfully managing concurrent M&A and business transformation activities, a successful multi-vendor framework should:

  • Support the analysis of the overall demand on resources (subject matter experts, as well as service providers) required to support multiple related and concurrent programs;
  • Help manage and integrate the efforts of multiple vendors and internal organizations;
  • Enable the analysis of who will be the recipients of new processes, policies, procedures and systems to determine if the organization can digest all of the proposed changes; and
  • Ensure that enterprise governance and organizational change management are seen as essential to the success of the M&A and business transformation programs and staff them accordingly.

When combined with the requisite executive sponsorship, all of these elements will enhance an organization’s ability to deliver value to its business units and shareholders alike.

Will Ruiz is managing director for the consumer industries consulting and solutioning practice at HP Enterprise Services (http://h10134.www1.hp.com/industries/cir/). He has more than 20 years of experience in the areas of business process innovation, new product development, technology strategy and manufacturing operations. Ruiz can be reached at will.ruiz@hp.com.