One of the challenges following an acquisition is moving the acquired company onto the parent company’s existing technology systems or vice versa. The level of complexity will differ by company and industry, but examples of these technology systems are email programs, internal collaboration tools (e.g. Sharepoint, Trello, etc), human resources and time tracking programs, point of sale systems, and customer relationship management (CRM) software. Typically, the acquiring company will coordinate a team of engineers to handle the technology migration to ensure legacy data is carried over to the new system if required, but it's important to also have an internal communication strategy in place that will be executed in advance of, during, and after the migration. Clear communication is key for the acquired company’s stakeholders to understand and fully adopt the changes.
Here are a few points to keep in mind as you build your technology alignment internal communication strategy.
Be as transparent as possible.
With all change communications, being transparent is essential in building and keeping trust with your stakeholders, specifically the employees this technology alignment will impact. As early as information about the technology transition is available, start by making a general announcement so employees know what to expect. While it's important to garner excitement about the new technology, be sure to be truthful about any potential impact the transition may have on their day to day. Will there by any days when they won’t have access to either system? Will there be any training they need to complete before using the new system? Assure employees that they'll have the support they need to make the transition as smooth as possible (see more below regarding a training and follow up plan).
Answer the three questions that stakeholders are sure to have.
When going through a substantial change, it’s important to keep three things in mind that employees and leaders alike will definitely be wondering: what’s new, what’s changing, and what’s staying the same? Remembering these three questions as you build your internal acquisition communications strategy will go a long way. Let’s think about the impact of answering these questions a little further, and how they will help your stakeholders gain a more complete understanding of the transition.
By answering this question, you can really sell the features of the new technology, explaining how it will make your employees’ jobs easier. Highlight all the bells and whistles. Try not to focus on how they did something in the past, but instead emphasize the functionality they never had before and what will be made easier for them with this new system.
Here's where you’ll want to get into the nitty gritty of the changes, and how stakeholders may need to adapt. Because people tend to be naturally averse to change and learning new processes, this is the hardest area on which to put a positive spin. Try to call out the changes that will actually lead to an efficiency or improvement for the teams, but overall, it’s important to communicate everything that you can. The most common question you’ll get after the transition is: “We used to do it this way...how do we do it now?” Help mitigate this question but laying it all out for them in advance.
Create a change matrix, where you can easily display functions, how the function was done on the old system, and how the function is done on the new system. This will be a great guide for users to refer back to as they start using the new system.
What’s staying the same?
The answer to this question will hopefully be comforting to stakeholders, as they will be able to see that not everything in their world is changing. Most likely, some processes, functionality and escalation paths for support will stay the same even on the new system, so it’s important to call this information to their attention. Letting them know they will still have a support team and resources for assistance is also a good callout here.
Ensure training and follow up plans exist.
Once the technology migration is complete, be sure to have a training plan in place as well as follow-up resources, like FAQs or a knowledge base, where users can go for answers. This will be key to ensuring that your stakeholders feel confident and empowered to start using the new technology. It may be overwhelming for some, but if the right resources are in place to support your teams, you can have a really successful transition. Following up with stakeholders will demonstrate that you care about how they are handling the transition. Consider hosting a roundtable a couple weeks after the new technology has been implemented. What did stakeholders think went well? Where do they still need support? The answers to these questions will help you as you plan for growth of the acquired company and identify where you can improve your training and support resources.
Are you experiencing an acquisition now or will you be in the future? We’d love to chat about your internal communications strategy and see how we can help! Contact us for more information.
Photo credit: Simon Greig