Acquisition: IT Due Diligence

Conducting a solid IT assessment is the key to IT manager success, , , it is the most important part of managing an IT organization. You can’t be successful if you do not know what you need to work on and what you can do.

One of my most popular books is titled, Acquisition: IT Due Diligence. It provides an IT assessment methodology and all the tools you need to conduct a thorough IT assessment.

In the 1990’s I was the CIO of a company that became an acquisition machine. In 5 1/2 years, we acquired over 35 companies and grew the company from $30 million in revenue to over $700 million.

Prior to joining this company in 1990, I had never heard the term “due diligence”. Believe me, I got a quick dose of it.

Every department head was responsible for assessing, budgeting, developing and executing a transition plan for his or her organization. Mine was the IT organization. When I joined the company, we had no tools or processes to conduct assessments, , ,  so each of us developed what helped us size up our part of the new business in order to budget and develop an appropriate transition plan.

Our typical acquisition took about 60 days to complete once a Letter of Intent was issued to the prospective company owners and agreed upon. The timeline usually worked like this:

  • 1-2 weeks of research and preparation
  • 1-2 weeks of onsite discovery
  • 2-3 weeks of analysis, follow-up and writing due diligence reports

The due diligence process and tools I developed saved me, , , without them, the pace of our company acquisitions would have run right over me.

These tools are now 20 years old and they are the same tools I use to conduct an IT due diligence or assessment today. The reason is because an IT assessment is not really a “technical assessment” as much as it is a business assessment to determine what the IT organization should work on.

To do this, we need to learn the needs and issues of our client that require technology support and the capabilities and capacity of the IT organization, at a high level.

The challenge most IT managers have is that they want to dive deep into the technology detail, , , and learn all they can about the technology. The problem is that you don’t really have the time to do this in the beginning, , , there will be plenty of time later.

What we need to do initially is to identify material issues that have technology support implications and develop a game plan by which to start working on these issues.

I’ve conducted 45 IT assessments to support company acquisitions and dozens of IT assessments as a new CIO, IT manager, and Consultant.

In one situation, we acquired a company headquartered in Texas that was made up of ten companies, all in different cities and each with their own technology platform and operating procedures. The parent company had been acquiring smaller companies but had not assimilated any of them, , , the only things consolidated were Payroll, Accounts Payable, and their accounting functions. It was the equivalent of ten acquisitions, , , my tools allowed me to assess all of these entities in record time.

This due diligence process and tools works for both acquisitions as well as normal IT assessments you need to do such as when you join a new company, annual reviews, or when you are promoted and inherit a new IT organization.

CLICK HERE to learn more.

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