11 Dec A tool for every job
So here’s a question: How many of you have Microsoft Project loaded into your computer and never use it? I suspect quite a few (including me) – it seemed a good idea when I bought my licence as I thought it would solve all my project management needs. Sadly it never really worked for me. There was nothing wrong with MS Project, it was just that my projects were rarely completely linear with perfectly aligned resources, dates, dependencies etc. To be honest, I was also too busy to learn all of MS Project’s capability and simply gave up went back to and Excel-based template and MS PowerPoint (the latter for readability and presentations).
Sound familiar? This is common across the M&A world too. I have spoken both publicly and privately and find the same frustration at not being able to find just the right tool for managing the M&A process. Perhaps there isn’t one? What do people use? Well, there are a range of specific M&A tools on the market but each one seems specific and designed to do one or two things well – I guess generic project management tools would come top of the list here but I would have to include VDRs, collaborative tools (e.g. MS Sharepoint), web-based portals and even email.
The problem is that M&A projects aren’t like ‘normal’ projects – they are rarely linear, with many iterations, cross-dependencies and, importantly, depend for their success on ‘soft’ stuff like effective communication, employee retention and engagement. Then there is the added complexity that M&A occurs in distinct phases, often managed by different teams: the pre-deal phase where market analysis, strategy and target selection are the main elements, the Due Diligence to SPA phase where investigation and risk management are key and finally the execution phase (post Day-1) where we see more familiar programme management. Just to make matters even worse, don’t forget to include a clear strategy, overall programme governance, an approach that encompasses and connects the whole M&A life-cycle and the need to support and foster continuous improvement and learning.
Phew! So what is the answer? Perhaps firstly to recognise that one tool isn’t going to encompass the multi-faceted nature of an M&A project, but that there will always be a place for discrete solutions. However, these will be ineffective if they are not encompassed within a broader framework that recognises the end-to-end M&A journey – from strategy to execution to BAU. That’s why we have developed our own web-based framework ‘Navigator’ to help us and our clients make sense of the M&A process, support and enhance success in their M&A projects and crucially, improve their M&A skill and competence.
If you’d like to know more or see how BTD’s M&A Navigator could improve your M&A success, get in touch for an informal discussion.