More than 20 key merger strategies IT execs should employ

March 19, 2014
Frank Negro, Practice Leader, Global Healthcare Consulting, Dell Services

Relating to merger activities and establishing post-merger services:

  • Establish a clear vision of the future for the new merged entity.
  • Establish specific information and operational requirements for IT to support that future vision.
  • Create a robust governance structure with clear responsibilities and authorities.
  • Perform a transparent evaluation of systems, processes and people.
  • Document and subsequently secure appropriate resources (IP, human, financial).
  • Ensure effective program management for success of the transition activities.

The key attributes of an effective process would include commitment, involvement, integrity, transparency and communication.

Sheldon Newman, Co-Founder, CFO, Executive Vice President, Channel Partner Relationships, ViiMed

If you were asking what IT growth strategies I would employ to entertain a merger or acquisition, they would be (in no priority order):

  • Build new or newer technologies that could be integrated into product planning. Probably focus on the browser-based, mobile world with use anywhere, anytime strategy.
  • Create greater footprint in specific market(s).
  • Enhance offerings, especially in population wellness.
  • Innovate technologies that have a long shelf life and could be integrated into current offerings.
  • Build a sufficient breadth of talent accessibility to accommodate the now unknown twists and turns that we surely will see in HCIT’s future.
Chris Watson, Chief Operating Officer, Brightree
  • Define the purpose and vision of the merger, and use it to inspire. There’s an old adage that says, “Attitude determines altitude.” Make sure you invest in attitude. Many people find the process of change intimidating, and a higher purpose provides comfort along the way. 
  • Take care of the “me” issues. No matter how inspirational your purpose, people need to understand their place in the bigger picture. Without the “connective tissue” that ties the muscle of each individual to your higher calling, people will be distracted. Make these connections as straightforward as possible: “Now that our companies are together, we can achieve X. To do that, we need an IT team empowered to do Y. Here’s how we’re organizing to realize our vision. Here’s what that means in terms of your day-to-day work.” 
  • Form a combined Customer Advocacy Council. Make sure to blend views of the customer from both companies’ perspectives, rather than trying to subjugate one view under another. Listen. Learn. Find points of common connection today, and create points for the future. The best Customer Advocacy Councils combine representatives from across functions in each business, and they regularly solicit and incorporate feedback from an advisory board comprised of key customers that understand your vision and want to participate in helping you to achieve it. Remember, these might be different customers than were “leaders” when each company was separate.
  • Take a clean-slate approach. You’ve had the higher vision, and your due diligence has led you to a merger. Don’t try to force fit existing processes, cultural norms and key performance indicators into your “new company.” Even if, at the end of the day, you retain many existing procedures and goals from one of the merged companies, putting these to the acid test of “Is this still a best practice, given who we now are, and who we want to be?” is the right thing to do. It validates you are organizing for success, and quells “second guessing” by any individuals whose work needs to evolve post-merger.
  • Be willing to seek outside counsel. Just as in blending a family, blending companies is emotional as well as operational. It’s difficult to ideate every possible challenge until you are in the midst of the merger. Being willing to learn from others’ experiences and seeking their advice is a good way to either validate or evolve your thinking as you move forward.
Steve Fanning, Vice President, Healthcare Industry Strategy, Infor
  • Engage your team. A lot of IT professionals are smart enough to just get by day to day. A talented and passionate IT professional is prolific when challenged in a way that taps his or her hidden talents. As important as the individual’s behavior, how is your group functioning as a collaborative team?
  • Actively manage risk. A plan that doesn’t account for something going wrong,is frankly not a very good plan. Complex IT projects involve risk – to manage this risk make sure to evaluate plan timeframes to ensure they are realistic, and look to leverage cloud technologies to reduce infrastructure-related complexity.
  • Develop agile analytics. The next wave of savings and outcome improvement will be uncovered via data-driven insights. Because we don’t know exactly where or when, a flexible approach to data and analysis is key. Furthermore, focus these tools at “short cycle” initiatives that provide rapid feedback to drive measurable performance improvement. 
  • Security first. The sensitive and private nature of healthcare information reinforces the risk and responsibility of PHI. Instead of looking to security after the fact, a comprehensive security approach is more than just saying “no”  – it involves comprehensive standards for governance, integration and mobility. 
  • Stay current. This applies as an individual, for you and your team to stay current on new technologies and capabilities. Staying current also applies to the IT you manage. Software vendors can do a better job supporting customers on more current releases of their applications as well as supporting infrastructure. Out-of-date technologies also require harder-to-find and more expensive talent. Software as a Service (SaaS) offerings are growing in popularity in large part because they are always up to date and require no internal IT support resources

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