November 13, 2014

Consolidating business applications presents M&A challenges

Personnel and departmental consolidation are a given in any merger. Naturally, integrating the moving parts of two or more operations requires some compromise, strategy and lateral thinking. However, in the last ten years, technology has further complicated the hurdles companies must clear to bridge a successful merger. With web applications accounting for an increasing amount of corporate operations, getting compatible is critical to a successful deal, especially for tech companies. 

Because web applications are a new frontier in business strategy, absorbing one system into another, migrating data across platforms and training staff has less precedent than, say, adjusting a company's real estate portfolio. More and more, cloud-based technologies are changing the way employees interface with one another, as well as the work they do. From simple communications to data tools, you may find that your company's systems are at odds with your partner's.

Aptean, an Atlanta business software company, was born in the merger of two firms that had come about through a series of acquisitions on their own. By the time the corporation gelled, glaring tech inconsistency built walls between the operations. 

"The result was 30 companies that were really never integrated with each other—never combined into a single company," chief architect Chris Thornhill told Fortune. "We had 30 vertically organized separate companies doing their own things, with their own tools. Everything from HR to software delivery and launch was in the hands of the product teams. There were attempts to try and solve that but there was really no interest. The management of the time was focused on quarterly EBITDA and the short term."

To integrate apps successfully in mergers and acquisitions, look out for what works best and what can be expanded most efficiently. Most importantly, don't be afraid to start from scratch.