How CIOs can help speed mergers

Among the most common types of projects Binary Tree works on are mergers, acquisitions, and divestitures. We often come in to help organizations merge (or de-couple) their messaging systems and directories. In fact, we’ve supported some of the most complex mergers on the planet, spanning multiple organizations and thousands of users.

CIOs help speed mergers

Clients bring us in to be their integration expert because they want to move quickly. With a successful merger, you are likely to see most of your expected benefits within the first year. Ideally, you want to start seeing results within 90-120 days of inking the deal. Which means your merging teams need to be able to collaborate from day one.

To that end, here are a few best practices for CIOs to help speed integration before, during, and after a merger.

Before: Get M&A ready

These days, chances are you will be asked to help orchestrate a merger at some point, if you have not already. But you don’t have to wait until the project is underway. In fact, you can get started on a few things now, before a merger is even a twinkle in your CEO’s eye.

The good thing is, many of the best practices to prepare your people and processes for mergers also overlap with your broader digital transformation journey. So, it is effort well spent to put some thought in now, as it will benefit your organization on several levels. Here are examples:

  • Adopt flexible architectures and processes
  • Be able to tell the difference between general IT issues and those related to a merger
  • Gather ready-made tools, templates, and checklists
  • Be ready to backfill IT roles with external IT sources, so your team has time and space to execute the M&A
  • Research a trusted transformation partner you can tap for help when the time comes

Before: Get involved early

Gartner estimates that more than 50% of all integration activities rely on IT, with 25% those directly led by IT. Organizations who want their transition to go more smoothly should involve IT up front. As CIO, you should:

  • Ask for a seat at the table; don not wait to be asked
  • Help screen M&A candidates to estimate integration effort
  • Plan the integration process, especially day 1
  • Support your M&A “clean teams” as needed
  • Tee up your trusted transformation partner

During: Execute amid ambiguity

On these types of projects, you often must execute across many related work streams in parallel—and on a tight time frame. If you as the CIO aren’t tapped to be the integration program leader, make sure to volunteer. CIOs should:

  • Be crystal clear on the strategic direction and purpose of the deal
  • Establish effective IT integration governance
  • Set out a clear timetable for important decisions
  • Make important decisions quickly and follow them through
  • Dedicate in-house or third-party IT resources to the project
  • Track how you’re doing using clear KPIs that quickly show potential problems

After: Postmortems and training

The project doesn’t end after your IT systems are squared away. For the first 3-6 months, make sure to focus strongly on business user training and adoption. This is especially important if you’ve migrated users to a brand-new collaboration platform, like Office 365.

After your merger is done and dusted, make sure to do a post-mortem with your teams and develop a library of lessons learned for next time. Because again, there is a good chance there will be a next time.

Pro tip: Engage an expert

Because M&As tend to happen infrequently and need to move quickly, it is likely that you could use a bit of help from an expert who does this day in and out. Gartner says that more than 50% of organizations reach out for help with their integration during a merger. It is a great opportunity to engage a seasoned partner like Binary Tree. Binary Tree offers end-to-end M&A solutions that can help you:


To find out more about how we can help, get in touch. We look forward to working with you on your next merger.


Source: Gartner. The CIO’s Role in Making Mergers and Acquisitions Faster. April 2016.