“Know before you Grow”: Use platform assessments to evaluate scalability for post-merger integration success
By Scott Whitaker, Partner US
When companies grow rapidly via organic and inorganic M&A, there can be a severe strain on the people, process, and technology infrastructure to support the growing enterprise.
But when will you know you have overextended your organization’s ability to manage this growth?
During these periods of concentrated growth and M&A integration, organizations must assess their company’s “platform infrastructure” to identify scalability gaps that could negatively impact critical business processes, customer relationships, and which could also overwhelm valuable employees.
Scalability gaps can encompass any situation where demand for people, process or technology services outstrips an organization’s current capabilities. During post-merger integration events, scalability gaps can accumulate and threaten business results.
This platform infrastructure assessment can be easily done via a 3-step assessment outlined below
Step 1: Define & model the acquisition archetypes for planned M&A transactions
- Define the different types of acquisitions that may be made, for what purposes, and with what overall integration strategies envisioned to fuel growth of the platform through acquisition.
- For each of these discrete acquisition archetypes, define the likely resulting impact on number of the platform’s revenues, product/service lines, customers, markets/geographies served, leadership/people/organization and number of physical locations over a period of several years.
Step 2: Conduct a platform assessment with the objectives being to:
- Identify opportunities where the company needs to “scale up” to handle the increased requirements of the business driven by market growth and additional acquisition activities
- Identify opportunities to strengthen systems and processes to efficiently support organic and inorganic growth opportunities
- Define current capacity (i.e., how much business can the company handle given its current organization structure, staffing, processes, and systems?)
- Primary focus is on current-state business process assessment (examples might include service development, product development, software development, go-to-market, order-to-cash, procure-to-pay, hire-to-retire, service deployment, professional/ancillary services delivery, customer support/service, and other major business cycles as appropriate) and definition of current capacity (brief interviews with platform business process owners).
- The assessment should also gather information related to current operations and technology organization, organization, processes, and technology to help inform the integration planning process for any in-flight or planned M&A
- The assessment is typically done via interviews with company personnel and usually takes 2-4 weeks dependent on the availability or participants
Step 3: Create a platform enhancement roadmap:
- Findings from the assessment should be used to inform a 6-18 month platform enhancement roadmap to address the output and recommendations coming out of the exercise.
- The roadmap should cover all people, process & technology enhancements required to “scale up” and handle the anticipated impacts resulting from the planned M&A (as defined in Step 1-the acquisition archetype exercise).
Some example findings might include:
- Many functions may have capacity limitations that may not be addressable via adding headcount alone or have identified “big move” projects that appear to be key to scalability and sustainability but do not have the means to undertake them.
- Organizational changes, additional automation, and function-specific strategic enhancements may be required for long-term sustainability
- Assumptions regarding the ability of personnel in functions within the acquiring company to create capacity within similar functions in the target company – and the associated near-term capacity “lift” resulting from integration – may be overestimated and inaccurate.
- A degree of employee specialization and reorganization may be required to facilitate sustainable scalability
- Business process specific findings to size current available capacity, ease of scaling to support additional volume and ease of integration for in-flight or planned M&A transactions
Platform assessments help companies “know before you grow”, so planned M&A activity does not outstrip infrastructure capacity & capabilities.
About the Author
Scott Whitaker (email@example.com) is a partner at Global PMI Partners, an M&A integration consulting firm. He is the author of Cross-Border Mergers and Acquisitions (2016) and Mergers & Acquisitions Integration Handbook, (2012).
For more information visit http://gpmip.com