In our last article we discussed the issues of the transition period, TSA, and moving from due diligence to post-acquisition integration. In this piece, we take a look at the final stage; your exit from the TSA and ties to previous ownership, and the things to bear in mind as your new acquisition takes its first steps on its own two feet.
People, people, people.
It’s impossible to stress how much staff engagement means to the process. Make sure your final exit dates are communicated to the business, speak positively of the changes that you’ve made and your plans for the future of the business, and give everyone the opportunity to feed back concerns or worries they may have. The latter is especially important – you don’t want to find out you’ve missed something small that later becomes important in the disengagement and integration process.
Leadership and team structure.
It’s highly likely you’ll have engaged the services of expert interims and/or contract staff during the transition period; make sure you get the best possible value from their tenure. Use them to document the roles and responsibilities they hold, use them to recruit their successors, and use them to begin the succession planning process to give your new business the best possible footing from which to build. Make sure your new leadership team is fully briefed on the interims’ plans and the work they’ve been doing before their engagement comes to an end. Don’t be afraid to question and challenge their ideas though; they may bring expertise from other businesses or industries, and benefits in structure and process therefrom, but it’s important that your new business does not become reliant on their knowledge to make the most of it.
Contracts and third party support.
Prior to the final date for disengagement, make sure you have contracts in place for all the services you need, including replacements for those which terminate at the end of the transition period. Whilst in theory this should be straightforward and any services procured from the previous owner should be documented as part of the TSA, it’s essential to take a step back, review everything that’s in place, check that all transition projects are completed and check all systems, technologies and third party providers are covered by the necessary contracts with NewCo. Something critical but reliable that’s been overlooked during the transition period is easily missed – people tend to forget about the invisible technology or system that never goes wrong and quietly does its essential business in a corner of the organisation somewhere. Unfortunately, well-known colloquial laws cover this perfectly - that vital thing may have never gone wrong, but if it’s going to, it’ll happen at the worst possible time and with the worst possible results.
Be bold, be proud.
This is an opportunity to show your business partners, employees, and customers your best side. Take the chance to drive business success and don’t stand still. There will be new products, potential acquisitions, new marketing material, new people, and new ideas all waiting to be built upon. Unfettered by a TSA, with new processes and systems in place, you have already achieved a huge amount – but the work doesn’t stop there. As a new entity there are boundless possibilities to change the way you do things, give people new tools, invest in new technology or products; and coming out of the transition period is the perfect time to do so. Use the energy and commitment that’s been built up in order to successfully stand on your own; the pace is already set for changes to take place, so why not take advantage of it?
People, people, people.
The interims are gone, the contractors have packed their work up and gone home. Now it’s time to give your own employees the chance to celebrate success, and to shine on their own. Give them space to try new things and space to make mistakes. Mistakes don’t necessarily mean failure – but if you’re going to try something new and fail at it, then it’s best to fail fast and move on. Most of the greatest achievements in human history have been driven by the willingness to make mistakes and learn from them, and they should never be punished. Give your staff time to reflect on the transition process; celebrate with them the progress you’ve made together; empower them to take full advantage of changes you’ve made. Treat everyone you have as your partners in the adventure you’ve embarked on, and they’ll be hungry and ready for the next.
To read the others articles in the series, follow the links below:
Article 1 - Why do I need to be bothered about technology in my deal?
Article 2 - IT in Mergers and Acquisitions – what should you concentrate on?
Article 3 - The deal is done. Transition advice to transition support.