IT Consolidation, Merger & Acquisition, Separation – How we did it?

IT Consolidation, Merger & Acquisition, and Separation projects (CMAS in our jargon) are becoming more complex. This is due to increased business complexity, full IT dependency, focus on IT synergies, time pressure and large geographical scope. (Even during COVID-19!)

In this context, IT CMAS projects must be run with a broad, aligned view on 3 axes: business, application and infrastructure. They must also pay attention to details that could, for example, compromise a complex cutover. Partnership with a large service provider can also be a plus.

The reason experience and know-how are mandatory to succeed: project leaders are not dealing with normal projects — very often it’s their first one!

Here are seven success factors Atos Consulting has identified from recent projects:

1.            Start with a small, experienced core team obsessed with lead-time and risks

Build a small, integrated core team from your customer and partners. They need complementary backgrounds (e.g., industry, business, application, infra, IT operating model, transition, procurement, change management) and the expertise to propose to ExCom rigorous and quick decisions.

Seven keys to IT CMAS success
1. Start with a small, experienced core team obsessed with lead-time
2. Keep an integrated global view
3. Build a solid strategy phase
4. Be methodical and pragmatic
5. Don’t minimize coordination effort
6. Think “run”
7. Build strong and transparent relationships with partners

We recently built a core team of six people focused on two main goals: “Day 1” without disruptions and “Day 2” according to our Transitional Service Agreement (TSA) exit milestones. Experience, resilience and agility are key: your path is never written in advance. Anticipate and define a plan-B (even sometimes C and D) and be extremely responsive.

2.            Keep an integrated global view

Seems easy at a glance, but only if your team can dialog with business, animate experts from various disciplines and focus on key points with a simplification mindset. This view will also help in defining alternative plans for higher-risk topics.

In addition, with numbers of stakeholders from both sides, conflicts of interest will occur. These need to be solved early based on factual analysis.

In the defense industry, we designed and built a new IT landscape and data center in nine months based on modern hyper-convergent technology. This allowed us to build one unique infrastructure and cope with challenging security requirements.

In the consumer packaged goods industry, we aligned with finance to define target processes and solutions for a midsize company being acquired by a large multinational company. The IT target operating model evolved significantly, and associated changes had to be managed.

3.            Build a solid strategy phase

The strategy phase has to be run at the right level of detail, understanding which choices are important, which are urgent, how you will run transformation and what you can adjust later. First, budget estimates are difficult to assess precisely, but lead time can be reduced significantly giving more time for any required request-for-proposal process.

Recently, we designed a new IT architecture based on Azure to host and run the three key elements of the core model: manufacturing execution system (MES), enterprise resource planning (ERP) and direct procurement. This decision avoided a classical lift-and-shift followed by a transformation step.

In other projects, we identified “application nuggets” (for an MES and hotel booking platform) and performed transition and integration into the new core model.

4.            Be methodical and pragmatic

Atos’s long acquisition experience has given us standardized tools based on separation objects lists, integration or separation concepts, transition plans, enterprise architecture and PMO tools (etc).

We also use a hybrid program management approach bringing speed and agility. The goal is to maintain a solid and integrated master plan that’s iterative (fail fast), agile, customer-driven and adaptive to changes.

5.            Don’t minimize coordination effort

Coordination efforts (such as onboarding, planning and synchronization) are always underestimated. To manage them, we work with a simple program management framework enabling us to:

  • Define several planning layers to manage top-down and bottom-up
  • Split the program into work packages clearly allocated to internal or external partners
  • Manage prerequisites or dependencies.

Program complexity is triggered by the multiplicity of topics and partners but also by relationships to sellers (or buyers) and execution of the related contracts and TSA services.

In a complex case, we kept the program lean, avoiding micro-management and using a subsidiary principle to split coordination effort at the work-package level. This aspect is one key to the overall program’s efficiency.

6.            Think “run”

The IT run, and so the IT operating model, must be designed sooner than usually expected. This will allow you to master OPEX, design IT processes and procedures, and hire or onboard the future IT team. Those tasks will smooth the transition from project mode to run mode.

On a recent project, we supported hiring the future run-team six months in advance; allowing us to onboard, participate in “build,” transfer knowledge and prepare the run processes. At this stage, the target infrastructure and application landscape were not fully known, but we had selected a run team flexible enough to adapt.

7.            Build strong and transparent relationships with consulting and IT partners

A real partnership is the outcome of common achievements and trust. Benefits are numerous, including cutting lead-times and getting access to expertise in various countries.

Good relationships also benefit daily operations. Usually, the core team works extensively together, exchanging ideas, plans and feedback. Therefore it is important to build trust between all project team members.

In several cases, our customers gave us progressively a “preferred partner” status, allowing them to simplify contracts, sourcing and project structure. It also gave them access to larger pools of expertise or resources. This can allow them to source experts on the spot (e.g., network engineers, PKI experts, PLM experts from recent projects). It also lets them get commitment on entire work packages or execute fallback scenarios in case of lead-time issues (e.g., in opening recently a new call center based in Argentina).

We hope you find our IT CMAS recommendations helpful. Some keys to our success: experience, methods, integrated and global view focused on business aspects, and close cooperation within the team. Use them well!

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About Eric d'Arche

Associate Partner, Atos Consulting
Eric d'Arche, Associate Partner at Atos Consulting, contributes to the development of business in the industry sector and more particularly in the automotive sector in which he has more than twenty years of expertise. He previously worked in consulting (e.g., Coopers & Lybrand, Capgemini) or business development (SAP).He is focused on transformation projects with strong management and organizational or information systems challenges. In recent years, he has developed a strong experience in the transformation of the industrial sector toward the world of services, in particular in the automotive sector (launch of the Zoe at Renault, launch of new connected services with various manufacturers) and contributed to the drafting of the white paper “The Impact of Digital on the Electric Vehicle Ecosystem.” He graduated from the Ecole Polytechnique.

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About Guy Roulier

Partner, Atos Consulting
Guy has an extended experience in IT transformation programs from strategic studies to RFP design onto field implementation. He led the CMA (Carve-out, Merger & Acquisition) practice for Atos Consulting France for the last 4 years. Over thirty years of consulting activities, Guy led more than 40 IT Master Plans ranging from a few dozen to several hundred days of workload in different sectors in France and abroad.After working extensively for the public sector, Guy focused on the energy and utilities as well as manufacturing sectors. Today he is the Global Consulting Partner for the EDF Group, the largest Atos France customer. Guy graduated from the Ecole National de l’Aviation Civile (ENAC) before getting a master’s degree from Stanford University.

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