Law firm merger and acquisition (M&A) events are usually accompanied by big, complex system merger projects with a lot riding on them, namely the new entity’s entire foundation.
Ironically, the secretive nature of M&As prevents–or seriously limits–the ability to plan, which ups the stakes: Will the newly merged data system function properly at go-live?
One of the most difficult aspects of an M&A systems merger is sourcing a great tech team without spilling the beans about your big move. How do you find qualified professionals? How can you tell they’re a good fit for your project?
We’re frequently called in to mitigate damage after an unsuccessful data merger. It’s a time consuming, expensive process that hinders the M&A’s forward momentum. We don’t want this to happen to you.
If you’re planning a merger, use these three key considerations to guide your research, frame your thinking, and vet potential tech pros without an overt inquiry.
- Responsiveness and agility
Time is of the essence in an M&A. The clock’s ticking and there’s no wiggle room. Legally, the new data environment has to be up and operating by the established go-live date.
Given the parameters for these projects, success hinges on the tech team’s responsiveness and agility:
- Can they spin up quickly?
- Are they capable of scaling to meet the project’s needs?
- Do they have a delivery model capable of maximizing working hours?
You need a team that can activate on Day 1, not a week from Day 1. Investigating staffing protocols, team structures, and delivery capabilities helps you weed out the no-go options before the clock starts ticking.
And if you’re considering handing this project to your in-house tech team, we strongly recommend NOT doing so. Although skilled, their regular responsibilities will conflict with the merger’s need for speed and unwavering focus. Using a legal tech provider ensures the data merger has a designated team while your in-house team continues to support daily workflow during the change.
Example: See how effectively Helm360 performed a large-scale M&A data merger in only two months.
- Expertise and tools
Technical expertise is an obvious criterion. However, not all tech professionals excel in data mergers. It’s a highly specialized skill set. Confirming that the professionals on your M&A tech team are skilled in this area should top your team-
- Do they have a background in performing M&A data mergers? (These are significantly more complex than upgrades or new application implementations.)
- Do they have a designated data merger team or merely a collection of tech pros? (Again, specialization is crucial to success.)
- Do they have experience with all the applications involved? For example, do they know Elite 3E and A
nderant? Will they be able to maintain high standards in both?
Having technical acumen is only the starting point. It’s also important to check your tech team’s knowledge of the legal industry:
- Do they know how your business works?
- Do they understand what’s important in your workflow?
- Do they know which system customizations are important and why?
- Do they know what a well-
A team with this dual expertise has a clear understanding of your objectives and the ability to get you through a merger as smoothly as possible. They can spot anomalies and potential trouble spots before the small problems spiral into bigger, time-sucking issues. Requiring the tech team you build to have industry knowledge improves the odds of your M&A’s success.
Another element to look for is tooling. The number and quality of tools in a potential tech provider’s arsenal is an indicator of their experience, expertise, and commitment to the data merger process. Consider:
- Do your potential tech pros have/use tools that fast-track the data merger process?
- Do they use any automations? Have they created test libraries?
- Do they use data merger-specific tools that they designed, tested, and successfully applied?
You need to quickly establish accurate starting benchmarks from all systems to get your merger off to a strong, reliable start. Your tech team must possess the expertise and tools to make it happen.
Consider how Helm360’s new Digital Eye tool automates data discovery, typically an extremely time consuming, labor intensive first step in data mergers. Digital Eye reduces data discovery from days to mere minutes. It also creates interactive reports that show where discrepancies are and how to fix them. Digital Eye is integral to the Helm360 Data Services Team in aligning data quickly and accurately.
Bim Dave, Helm360’s Executive VP, says:
Getting to a destination quickly is a combination of expertise and tooling. It doesn’t matter which system you’re coming from or which system you’re acquiring. The bottom line is that by investing in technology tools, like Digital Eye, we fast track the data discovery and improve the integrity process to make sure that data being merged into the new system is good and of high standard.
Example: See how Helm360’s Digital Eye tool accelerates data processes and boosts data quality.
- Processes and procedures
As a decision
–maker, you need to know that not every data merger is created equal. Each tech provider has its own data merger procedures , which may or may not result in a high functioning system post-go-live.
Finding the right tech professionals for your project requires asking process-oriented questions like:
- How will edits, validations, customizations, etc. be addressed?
- How will issue tracking and change control take place?
- How will queries be created and used?
- How will tools and automations fit in?
You’ll also want to look for information on:
Data discovery. Poor data quality derails many a data merger. Assessing data quality—and improving it—occurs in the data discovery phase. Working with a provider who has a clear, tested data discovery process is key to not only meeting the M&A’s rigid deadline, but also to smooth operations post-go-live.
As stated above, any tool that automates this key phase, like Digital Eye, is a huge plus. In the case of Digital Eye, the tool assesses data and facilitates data alignment in all business areas, like client contact/address information, accounting, customizations, firm information, etc. It saves the Helm360 team huge amounts of time and ensures the end data balances with the initial benchmarks.
In an M&A, you’ve got to get the data into the system one way or another. So, you’ve got some decisions to make in terms of how you go about getting that data in. When you can use any kind of accelerators to improve the quality of data, you’ll ultimately save time on the other side. Because if you lift and shift the dataset and throw it into the new system, you may get the data in there, but you may spend the next six months cleaning up bad data.
Example: See how you can use data discovery to transform your business.
Performance testing. Performance testing is an opportunity to validate your business functions and confirm the system’s performance before go-live. It allows you to see if the acquired data aligns with the receiving system and is working as it should. For instance:
- Are timecards associated with the new data correctly assigning to matters?
- Are those times connecting to the right timekeepers?
- Are the associated invoices generating correctly?
The ultimate goal is to deliver a consistent experience to your attorneys and staff as well as to your clients. Performance testing gives you insight into your ability to reach this goal.
It’s important for you to know that performance testing isn’t automatically included in a system merger; it’s something you need to seek out. Be sure to specifically look for it as part of your research.
Example: Here’s an example of how processes and procedures affect your firm’s future.
’s are among the most stressful business events your firm will likely undergo. There are a lot of moving pieces and a lot of personnel to coordinate. Having a clear picture of what your M&A tech dream team knows, uses, and does gives your merger a strong starting position. The result? A smooth data merger that positions your firm for more future-focused opportunities. Oh, and don’t forget the peace of mind.
The Helm360 Data Services Team is well versed in merger and acquisition tech requirements. We’re happy to answer questions and/or give you a free Digital Eye demo. Contact us to get the process started.