For the past 15 years or so the standard process for transaction due diligence is to upload information and documentation into cloud based digital war rooms. These secure, online document management systems have been beneficial to buyers and sellers and especially lawyers and financial analysts. Reduced travel and less time spent in windowless rooms reviewing and copying documents by the thousands are just two of the many benefits.
The information that is uploaded is driven to satisfy the seller’s requirement of disclosure but not optimized for the buyers post deal operations. If the buyer leaves the information in the native structure, there will always be user frustration when searching. Multiply one dis-organized silo by many transactions and now you have a whole lot of user frustration. Here are some suggestions for tackling the transition so that operations is able to perform at peak levels.
First, if at all possible get an inventory of the war room contents, preferably in a spreadsheet format. Built in Excel functionality will let you separate the data into columns by folder level. This will usually provide a good method of sorting and analyzing the information to see how it can be incorporated into the acquiring company’s hierarchy or filing structure. Focus on folder naming and how to match folder names to a source list like department, customers, vendors or contracts.
Second, look at the files themselves, especially PDFs or scanned documents. Very frequently for purposes of populating the war room, documents are scanned by folder or binder. That is the easiest and lowest cost way to do it, but the least friendly when trying to locate a specific document later. Will these “compound PDFs” need to be split up to make them user friendly?
Lastly, consider whether there will be a need for de-duplication or any other type of file clean up before uploading to your system. You may want to immediately archive some information as it may only have been useful for transaction purposes. Are the file names cryptic and will they suffice as a document title in your system or does each file need to be renamed?
Once this analysis is completed, then you can work with your IT team to assist with the download, mapping to the desired structure, clean up and the holy grail – a batch upload into your system. A batch upload is far and away more efficient than trying to upload one document at a time. Don’t let your users be the casualties of a digital war room, transition the information into your organized and efficient structure.