Managing Team Collaboration after a Merger or Acquisition
We’ve learned a lot since launching Mio. Use cases we’ve never imagined pop up nearly every day. Some, we get. Some take us by surprise. But, one of the most common uses cases is when a company acquires a new business or merges with somebody relevant in their field.
Great news all round.
Except for IT, right?
You know there’s going to be a whole host of changes to be made. And after the initial company high fives, you now have a lot of work on your hands.
But it’s not all doom and gloom.
You’re an experienced IT professional and have got everything covered on the IT side…
Aligning everyone to the BYOD strategy? No problem.
Ensuring everyone has the company standard anti-virus? Easy.
Migrating everyone that uses Slack onto… wait. What?
This is both a common scenario and a common reaction.
Questions we hear a lot when a company completes a merger or acquisition include:
“We acquired a company that uses Slack. What should we do?”
“We’re merging with another company and have two different Slack workspaces. Do I have to make a new one?”
“I don’t want to force anyone to change their processes in month one. What should I do?!”
Fear not. This post will run through the ins and outs of managing team collaboration tools following a merger or acquisition.
What’s the difference between mergers and acquisitions?
Mergers and acquisitions exist under the larger umbrella of business consolidation.
A merger consolidates staff, products, and services into a new entity. Mergers create new business models and structuring. The high-level employees in two teams may need to take on different roles.
Mergers aren’t as common as acquisitions. It’s not easy to create one business out of two. When mergers do occur, it’s often to boost revenue, expand into a new market, or reduce costs.
In an acquisition, there’s no creation of a new business. The smaller, purchased company ceases to exist. The assets and staff of that organization move into the bigger company.
An acquisition allows one company to take over another completely. When talent and tools move from one business to another, restructuring is essential. When a company buys another venture, they don’t have to adopt all its processes, staff, and tech.
The buyer generally gets to choose which elements of the company to take.
What are the types of mergers and acquisitions?
There are different types of mergers and acquisitions to consider.
- Conglomerate: Aligning firms with different activities and processes. A leading computer company might merge with a telecommunications brand. The aim here is to unlock broader opportunities for the purchasing organization.
- Horizontal: Combining two companies with a similar product or service. Merging two businesses in the same space leads to a larger range of products and services. For instance, Polycom and Plantronics merged in 2018. The two telecommunications companies had a similar audience.
- Vertical: Here, two companies in the same industry join forces. These businesses are at different points on the supply chain. Vertical mergers improve logistics and combine staff. They also reduce time to market. A clothing retailer buying a manufacturing company would be a vertical acquisition.
- Concentric: This involves blending companies who share similar customers. For instance, Sony makes DVD and Blu-ray players. Sony bought Columbia Pictures, a movie studio, in 1989. This meant Sony could produce the films that customers played on their Sony tech.
What are the biggest challenges of mergers and acquisitions?
Combining a company with another venture provides access to new talent and technology. But it’s not easy to link two businesses. Even if the brands have similar products, they may have different processes.
Making an M&A (Merger and Acquisition) process a success requires careful planning. Some of the most common challenges teams face are:
Company culture is important in today’s landscape. People want to feel like they’re part of an aligned team. When you merge with or buy another company, you’ll have two different sets of values to consider. Business leaders need to ensure that all employees are on the same page.
To avoid issues, look for M&A opportunities with groups that share similar values. It’s essential for companies to create brand guidelines for team members. Helping employees to understand the business mission will give them focus.
Information silos are a common problem. Over time, departments in your organization will form tight-knit groups. These groups include people who see each other and work together each day. Unfortunately, silos create a problematic mentality in the business.
If your sales team forms a silo, they may not share their information with the marketing or product team. Knowledge gaps lead to confusion and misalignment in business processes. When helping team members to bond, it’s important to encourage cross-team connections.
Make sure everyone has a place to connect. Instant messaging tools and collaboration platforms are crucial here. Everyone needs to be able to connect through chat, voice, and video. The more different groups communicate, the lower your risk of silo mentality.
Technology is crucial for keeping teams connected and productive. But every team has its own preferences. The average workplace uses an average of 3.3 different chat apps.
Each of those apps might include integrations with third-party tools. A failure to integrate communication tools leads to lost information and poor productivity. Companies need a way to connect internal employees and external contacts.
Some business apps come with native integrations. Others need access to specific federation tools. For example, Mio syncs conversational channels.
When your M&A process is complete, you’ll need an easy way to continue reaching those contacts. Mio offers a cross-platform federation for this purpose. Universal channels connect teams to external contacts. Your new colleague continues using their preferred app, while you use yours.
Having universal channels reduces the need for guest accounts and other complications that might arise when merging with another company.
How to manage team collaboration following a merger or acquisition
The problem we often hear from IT Managers is:
“Our company uses ABC platform, but the new company uses XYZ platform…and I don’t want to ruffle any feathers.”
Typically a startup or smaller company that gets acquired has been using Slack.
But, ParentCo (i.e. you) uses Cisco Webex or Microsoft Teams.
Here’s a real-life example told by our Director of Customer Success:
“When I was at Tropo, we used Slack.
One day, we enforced Slack across the business… but some people still used Skype for Business.
Then Cisco acquired us.
So we used Skype for Business, Slack, and Webex.
And then we had two emails… our Tropo email and our Cisco email.
On top of that, we had our cell phones.
Now it was required to add a voicemail box in Cisco somewhere.
I set this up but never in 3.5 years did I check the messages.
The running joke was…
“If you need me, just Spark me and then Slack me then call me on my cell or send an email…etc…”
The moral of the story
Upon completion of an acquisition or merger, a quick transition to full team collaboration is crucial.
We’ve put together a checklist below to think through your team’s collaboration strategy after a merger or acquisition.
Making the first decision about which messaging tools to use for your new group sets the tone of everything to come.
Option 1 – migrating to one chat app following a merger or acquisition
Not all messaging apps are alike.
Will the new app you plan to migrate to support all features needed?
Below are a few things you may run into as you assess potential blockers & changes you will need to make.
1. What channels and spaces need to be merged?
You’ll need to map channels like general and product team to allow for the new, wider team.
Which should stay private vs. be publicly available for new team members to join?
Ensure you spend a considerable amount of time capturing and validating your requirements.
2. Language barriers
If you’re a global company, you may find language barriers across platforms become your blockers.
Just become one platform supports a language doesn’t mean they all do.
3. Additional costs
Consider licensing tiers and price per user per month.
Will you have a period of dual running costs?
It’s unlikely you will be ready to migrate all at once.
4. How long will your migration take?
Moving from one platform to another, in any realm, can be a tricky process.
It will require meticulous training, alignment from both teams, and onboarding efforts.
Consider this time as part of your total cost of change.
5. Risk of change
On top of the cost of change is the risk of change.
How long will it take for your team to get up to speed?
Is there a risk they could migrate to unapproved chat apps while the migration takes place?
6. Will you need more video conferencing?
Now that your team has grown, your collaboration needs have increased.
Will you need more video conferencing capabilities now that your team is spread across more offices and locations?
Does the tool you plan to consolidate into support this?
Will you need to add another service, like Cisco Webex, that also includes messaging?
7. What file-sharing tools are used in the new team?
If one company uses Office365 and Microsoft One Drive, Microsoft Teams would offer the richest form of collaboration.
But, what happens when the new company uses Google Drive or DropBox?
The task of migrating messaging and chat platforms could quickly evolve into a full-blown collaboration restructure.
Pause for breath
It’s tempting to immediately want to consolidate.
You’ve got a lot on your plate.
You may think that an acquisition is perfect timing to introduce a new collaboration or messaging tool.
But, take stock for a moment and pause.
You have two groups of individuals that use and specialize in what they have been using.
You can utilize this period to introduce true subject matter experts on both sides.
It’s likely you have internal product evangelists that sing the praises of their preferred tool.
Take the time to fully understand why they use and like these tools.
Option 2 – keep using both apps following a merger or acquisition
Your alternative option to migrating the new team to a single messaging app is to keep both.
While this likely is much less upfront work to manage, it presents longterm implications for the team to consider.
Here’s another checklist to work through:
1. Where do company-wide channels exist?
Where will both companies have a single place to chat?
For example, where will team-wide HR information be placed?
For an urgent matter, will the team know where they should look?
If you encourage multiple apps but only store information about the new company on the original collaboration app, you encourage workplace silos rather than team collaboration.
2. Will employees be required to use both apps?
Monitoring both apps all the time could mean workflow issues, resulting in friction to getting things done.
Also, using two chat apps means additional attention to monitor and double the number of notifications.
3. Find integrations that work across both collaboration platforms
If you plan to stick with separate chat apps, there are creative ways to unify collaboration.
One of our favorites is the Webex Meeting Integration that works for Slack & Microsoft Teams users.
4. Make a long term plan for interoperability post-acquisition
If you plan to have two or more messaging environments, like Slack and Webex or Slack and Microsoft Teams, what you really need is interoperability between the two.
Mio provides just that.
With Mio, you ensure that everyone keeps chatting and collaborating in their existing Slack workspaces or their Webex or Microsoft Teams without installing another app or changing the way they work.
Mio makes seamless integration of your new team members just that – seamless!
Imagine your existing users could chat away on Slack to the new company in Webex. Or Microsoft Teams. Or any combination of these.
All you need to do is setup Mio in the back end. Your users will notice no change except for new team members to chat to. It’s totally native.
Take a look.
This is a big win for your desired requirement of “best of both worlds.”
Mio enables everyone from your current company and the new company you have acquired to collaborate without the need for a big migration.
Sounds like a lot of hard work?
Mio is simple to set up:
- Auth in all chat apps your teams use by creating your Mio Hub
- Import all users and channels at once, or select them one by one
- Team members in your Mio Hub can immediately chat in DMs or groups with members on other platforms
- File sharing, threaded messages, reactions, and the ability to edit and delete messages are all supported with Mio
- New conversations will be mirrored in the primary chat platform each employee prefers to use
Sure, some of these processes will need planning of their own.
But, it’s a whole lot easier than migrating everyone to another platform.
And you have the added benefit of not upsetting everyone by making them change their daily communication habits.
Managing team collaboration after a merger or acquisition
Just because you’ve acquired a company that uses different collaboration and messaging platforms or different chat workspaces doesn’t mean you need to isolate one collaboration tool.
Nor does it mean you must settle on the friction and communication silos created when using more than one messaging tool in the workplace.
Hopefully, the considerations above have reassured you that it’s not impossible to manage your messaging and chat platforms post-acquisition.
It will, absolutely, take some blood, sweat, and tears to get there.
But, if that’s not for you, Mio can get your newly- expanded team collaborating in no time.