Merging data landscapes following a Merger or Acquisition (M&A) is a complex business undertaking. Therefore, it’s essential to understand the impact of the merger on your entire data landscape and systems infrastructure early in the process.

Data migration represented with different graphic forms with people shaking hands in background

There may be multiple and incompatible systems, the data quality is likely to be inconsistent across functional areas and sources, and at least some of the data will be out of date.

The process itself must be managed properly, and the data cleansed, remediated, enhanced and consolidated correctly to build a functional, sustainable data platform for the merged company.

COSOL has more than two decades of experience running data quality and data migration projects for asset intensive organisations. We’ve developed a shortlist of our top tips to achieve a successful data migration following an M&A.

1. Call in the data migration experts

Recognise your business priorities, your expertise, and your limits.

Once the M&A announcement is made, your business will rightly be focused on the most time-critical elements. These include managing your brand reputation, driving change across your teams and ensuring customer service levels remain high while customers get used to the new arrangements. In addition, your IT departments will be responsible for the complicated and challenging task of marrying different systems and platforms.

That’s why it’s important to bring in trusted data migration professionals to ensure nothing critical is missed in the early stages of your data migration project. Experts in data migration can help you understand and map out an entire process, minimising risks – such as project overruns – that commonly occur through a lack of expertise.

2. Communication with stakeholders across the business is key

You’ll need to:

Understand the legacy systems and source systems as well as the current and target business states. It’s also essential to have clarity regarding decision making and approvals across all phases of the project. This is important in any data migration project but critical after a merger when roles and responsibilities are still being finalised.

Understand the people behind the data in your business and their needs. Some teams may be impacted directly by the decisions made as part of the data migration process and the final project delivery. They know what they need to do their jobs, and it’s essential you do too, to enable the best possible business state at the completion of the project.

Ensure all stakeholders are involved early in the process and kept informed with regular status reports and two-way engagement throughout the project.

3. Be prepared to uncover data quality issues

Don’t be surprised to discover poor quality data, duplicate data and redundant data as part of your data migration project.

It’s very common to uncover all manner of data integrity issues through data migration projects, especially when dealing with more than one data landscape, as is the case following an M&A.

Use this as an opportunity to cleanse the data to enable a future state boasting a consolidated, functional, and sustainable data platform for the merged company.

 4. Start data remediation as soon as possible

The most common data migration project pitfall can be avoided by resolving data quality issues as soon as possible and at the source.

Don’t leave it to the data migration ‘program’ to fix the problem. Data owners can, and should, resolve duplicate data and redundant data in existing systems. There is no dependency on new systems for this to occur, and this exercise alone helps develop a critical enduring capability in your data management platform.

During an M&A, the first step is to undertake a thorough inventory of data landscapes. A professional Data Quality Assessment will help you identify and understand your data quality issues early in the process. This will save time, effort, and additional costs later in the project

5. Use a proven data migration methodology

Don’t rely on a standard project management methodology.

Data migration is a specialist area. Spend time upfront researching organisations providing these services. Look for those with proven methodologies to ensure a smooth business process and ‘smart’ solutions that can help accelerate the delivery of your project more efficiently, accurately, and cost-effectively.

To increase your comfort level, ask your preferred data migration vendor for project reference sites that most closely match your M&A data migration needs. Finding the right partner with proven, holistic experience across systems, tools, people, and processes is the best way to mitigate your business risks.

6. Strong data ownership and data governance is critical

As a ‘domain’, data should and can be managed before, during and after a major program.

A common practice and misconception in traditional, less digitally mature business is that a program or project, together with some technology, will fix whatever data issues are encountered. Once fixed, it will be fixed for good.

A better practice is to acknowledge that this is a business issue first and foremost and that the business must take ownership and accountability of its data as a strategic asset.

A ‘data as a domain’ approach will strengthen your merged organisation’s overall digital capability and mitigate future risks and costs by ensuring data remains evergreen.

7. Appropriately resource your data migration project

Do you have the expertise to manage an M&A data migration plan in-house?

It’s unlikely you will have the necessary people, processes, and solutions ready to go. However, ensuring you have all the right pieces in place is an investment in success for any M&A migration project.

Invest in expertise as getting the right advice early in the project will enable success. Invest in ‘smart’ solutions and migration tools that streamline complex elements of your project. Invest in data cleansing and remediation now, and you will reap the benefits early and perpetually.

Finally, consider who will be managing the project overall. Will it be you or a member of your team? Importantly, will you be ready to manage the project, vendors, budget, timelines and more – and will you still be able to manage your day job?

For more advice on the tricky business of data migration following an M&A, talk to a COSOL specialist.

You may also like to read the COSOL White Paper Series: Business Guide to Data Migration.

Data Migration Spotlight for large scale systems replacement or consolidation program
Figure: Data Migration Spotlight