IT PROJECT MANAGEMENT BLOG
Management of information technology (IT) integration during merger of two companies
Prekimi Tawari (CBS) PhD MS BS
The merger of two companies is often accompanied by the formation of a transition team that is responsible for making sure that the transition from the two companies to the new single company is smooth and transparent. Continuity of operations must be assured and customers must continue to be satisfied. Information Technology (IT) integration is a critical component of the transition team. Often, the success of the integration of the two companies is dependent on effective planning and execution of the IT integration effort. Managing IT integration in such an environment takes added meaning and significance, not only because IT integration is a critical factor, but also because IT execution is highly dependent on many other factors such as business applications and collaboration systems used by the two companies; skills and expertise of the IT support personnel from the companies; cultures of the two companies; role, responsibilities and stature of IT in the two merging organizations and in the new single company; business strategies and models of the two companies and the schedule for completing the integration of the two companies.
Leading the IT integration effort is a major undertaking which can elevate the IT integration manager’s standing and reputation in the organization if the integration is successful. On the other hand, if the IT integration incurs long delays or is unsuccessful, the IT integration project manager will most likely not have a future with the company and his/her skills and management abilities will at least be questioned. Often, the IT integration manager is chosen based on his/her technical skills. Similar to other IT project engagements, this may not provide the best solution for IT integration management. In a merger of two companies, the IT integration manager should be an effective program manager because the integration invariably has many IT projects, many of them large, which need to be planned and executed in a cost effective, timely and integrated manner.
In this paper, the author suggests that leadership of an IT integration effort for the merger of two companies be placed in the hands of an experienced, skilled and effective program manager. Similar to regular program management, IT integration management in the merger of two companies calls for effective project portfolio management. Skills, experience and expertise required of program managers have been described in the program and project management literature (1, 2). However, the responsibilities of an IT integration program manager (ITIPM) far exceed those of a normal program manager. In addition to effective program management, the IT integration program manager in the merger of two companies must: (a) have the support and respect of the executives of the two merging companies who may not be in good terms because some of them may lose their jobs; (b) function as the primary developer of the IT architecture for the new single company whose structure and business model may be evolving; (c) have patience with business unit or sector managers from the two companies with varying motives, objectives and requirements; and (d) interact and collaborate well with the overall merger transition team component managers of similar or often higher stature including human resources, finance, business development, procurement, contracts, security and facilities.
The ITIPM must have highly developed skills and experience in communications, collaboration, negotiation, leadership and management. He/she has to communicate and collaborate with many business and functional area managers and/or executives and IT professionals from the two companies and thoroughly assess the IT environments across all IT components such as applications, infrastructure, data centers, assets and email in the two companies. The ITIPM should develop an IT organization and governance structure that can quickly discover and resolve issues and establish IT goals and strategy that are compatible with corporate objectives and minimize interruption to the new company’s operations. The ITIPM must simultaneously ensure continuity of IT and business operations and support the establishment of integrated IT operations. Understanding and negotiating IT and operational priorities with business and functional mangers is important for ensuring continuity of operations and satisfying business and customer requirements. Also, contracts with suppliers and contractors including any out-sourced projects may need to be re-negotiated. Demonstrating strong and inclusive leadership skills and qualities are critical for organizing, planning and implementing integration projects and selecting and enabling project managers for the various IT integration projects. Another major responsibility of the ITIPM is to manage IT personnel from the two merging companies, some of whom may be worried about their fate in the new company and managing the expectations of business and functional managers. From a technical perspective, the ITIPM must recommend IT systems for consolidation or termination, develop an asset management system with a detailed inventory of IT assets, and enable IT integration projects to be defined, scheduled and implemented. Also, the ITIPM may need to establish processes, procedures and metrics for the integrated IT operations.
The primary objective of IT integration in the merger of two companies is to ensure continuity of IT and business operations, satisfy both internal and external customers and create value for the new organization and customers. The ITIPM must be accountable and ensure that IT and overall integration objectives are met. It takes a special kind of program manager to successfully lead an IT integration effort when two companies merge. In addition to effective program management skills, the ITIPM must have exceptionally strong skills in negotiating, communicating and collaboration and have strong business acumen. He/she must deal with a larger number of stakeholders from companies that often have different cultures, business models and philosophies. The training and development of IT integration project managers must focus on program/project management best practices and, more importantly, in active listening, assertiveness, collaboration, negotiation and in understanding business issues.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Prekimi Tawari (CBS) PhD MS BS is an approved Certified Business Specialist (CBS) with the Academy of Business Strategy and his specialist subject is IT project management. He has achieved a PhD in Electrical Engineering from the University of Washington WA and an MS and BS in Electrical Engineering from the University of New Hampshire. He has been employed as Vice President, CTO, General Manager and Management Consultant for various companies and has experience within the federal, state, local and international governments, energy, manufacturing and FMCG retail industries. His clients or employers have included V-tech solutions Inc, L-3 Government Services Inc, EER Systems Inc, Raytheon Co and Mitre Corp. He has geographical working experience in the USA, Hungary and Poland and he speaks English. His service skills incorporate information technology project, programme and portfolio management, mentoring, training, empowering, IT strategy, project performance metrics and communications.