There seems to be a growing number of transactions happening in the business world. Heinz to buy Kraft, Sears to spin off properties to a REIT, Walgreens merges with Boots Alliance. These transactions all have consultants, investment bankers, appraisers, lawyers and many other people working to get the transaction completed. Two additional groups involved in these transactions are also very important, the internal IT department and their vendors.
There was a time not too long ago when the only electronic information transferred was the accounting system. That was challenging enough what with potentially different systems, formats or chart of accounts. Now include the ERP, CRM, ECM, DM and of course the file servers or cloud storage. Yes, the IT department is very busy when transactions occur and that in turn means their vendors are busy too.
Ideally the data can be normalized and merged into the chosen system without much headache. That involves looking at the formats, data mapping, analyzing configured business processes, selecting the users to be transferred, understanding the security and many other factors. Unfortunately, the reality is that the process is an extremely challenging one. Part of the reason is the vast quantity of data that needs to be transferred. Just dealing with the number of records and file size of all the data is complicated. Actually making sense of that data and making two completely different companies data look the same is like climbing Mount Everest.
The IT department needs to work closely with its vendors to find the most efficient way to migrate the data, either in or out. Timing is critical also, as the business doesn’t take a break while the migration occurs. That means cutoff dates need to be established and gap analysis performed to ensure nothing is missed from the cutoff date to the migration date. Don’t forget that someone needs to approve of exactly what is being transferred.
We have participated in many data migrations as a result of transactions. It is challenging work but very rewarding when we can take what appears to be a hornets nest and turn it into well organized, easily accessible information. It takes lots of effort from the seller’s team, the buyer’s team and the vendor to make it work. It can include technology solutions to help migrate the data, but it will invariably take human intervention. Plan for it, manage it, verify it and you will be happy with the outcome.
Millennia Group is a sponsor for the upcoming Real Estate and Bank General Counsel conference in Chicago on May 7th – www.imn.org. Michael Cipriano will be on a panel discussing REIT Spin Offs.