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As companies come together during a merger, the migration and integration of their IT systems become critical tasks — and sometimes a colossal headache. The success of your upcoming (or current) migration hinges on careful planning, effective communication, and a comprehensive IT system integration strategy.

In this blog post, we’ll look at the intricacies of IT system migration during and after a merger, highlight the importance of doing it right (technically, financially, and culturally), and provide a 7-step roadmap for a seamless transition.

ONEiO Seven tips for ensuring seamless IT system migration after merger - Roadmap

1. Preparing for the migration: setting your business up for success

Embarking on an IT system migration journey requires a clear vision and well-defined goals. The first step is to identify the objectives of the merger and align them with the IT systems. Your companies should assemble a dedicated migration team comprising experts from both merging entities. This team will play a pivotal role in orchestrating the entire migration process.

Pre-assessment of the current state

A thorough assessment of both organizations' IT systems is imperative to ensure a smooth transition. By understanding the strengths and weaknesses of each system, the migration team can prioritize which systems should be migrated first. This prioritization should be based on criticality, dependencies, and compatibility factors.

In general, a pre-assessment stage sets a good example for projects moving forward. For example, at ONEiO we offer a free 15-minute ITSM landscape assessment which aims to equip you with the knowledge about how your ITSM processes might benefit from integration.

Creating a budget for the merger

Creating a comprehensive budget is also essential to avoid, or at least plan for, unforeseen financial hurdles. Identifying cost-saving opportunities through the consolidation of systems and processes helps optimize resources. Minimizing operational disruptions during the migration process can mitigate potential revenue losses, while planning for post-migration costs, such as system maintenance and updates, ensures financial stability in the long run.

Some costs to consider in the IT section of the migration project budget include the following:

  • Infrastructure costs: Account for the expenses related to upgrading or expanding the IT infrastructure to accommodate the merged systems. These costs may include hardware purchases, server upgrades, network enhancements, and data center expenses.

  • Software costs: Consider the costs associated with software licenses and subscriptions required for the merged IT system. Think operating systems, productivity software, business applications, security software, and any specialized software needed for the merged business operations. Consider the cost of running systems in tandem, too — particularly if your company chooses a phased migration strategy.

  • Data migration costs: Allocate funds for data migration activities, including data extraction, transformation, and loading processes. This may involve hiring external experts or utilizing migration tools and software.

  • Professional services: Budgets for professional services, such as consultants or system integrators, who can assist with the IT system migration.

  • Change management and training: Consider the expenses related to training and change-management activities, including communication materials, employee engagement initiatives, and change management consultants, if necessary. These activities help employees adapt to the new IT system and minimize resistance to change.

  • Testing and quality assurance: Allocate funds for testing activities, including test environments, testing tools, and resources needed for integration testing, user acceptance testing, and quality assurance.

  • Security enhancements: Include costs associated with implementing security measures for the merged IT system. This may involve security assessments, firewall installations, encryption software, intrusion detection systems, and security training.

  • Vendor contracts: While you may save on cutting some vendor contracts during the merger, it’s important to account for any ongoing or new vendor contracts that are necessary for the merged IT systems — especially the ones that need to run in tandem for a period of time during a phased migration. So, software support and maintenance agreements, cloud service subscriptions, and outsourcing arrangements.

  • Contingency funds: Set aside a portion of the budget for expected unexpected expenses or risks that may come up during the migration project. A contingency fund helps mitigate unforeseen circumstances and ensures the project remains on track.

  • Post-migration support: Consider the costs associated with post-migration support, such as additional resources or external support needed to address any issues or questions from employees that may arise after the migration.

  • Project management: Account for project management costs, including personnel, tools, and resources needed to plan, coordinate, and monitor the IT system migration project.

Developing a communication plan

Creating a communication plan in the initial preparation stages is a wise idea, too – you don’t want to worry about how, when, and what to communicate to employees in both businesses during the process.

In essence, all it takes is maintaining open lines of communication between IT teams, business stakeholders, and employees from both sides. Regularly update them on the migration progress, address concerns promptly (remember: it’s OK to say, “I don’t know the answer to that, but I will find out”), and finally, provide extra training if necessary.

Legal and regulatory considerations

Ensuring compliance with industry regulations is crucial to avoid legal pitfalls. Addressing data privacy concerns safeguards sensitive information during and after the migration while managing intellectual property rights protects both entities’ valuable assets.

2. Developing the system migration strategy

Choosing the right IT system migration approach is crucial to avoid disruptions and minimize risks. The migration team should carefully evaluate various strategies, such as a phased approach or a big-bang migration, and select the one that best aligns with the merger objectives. Timelines and milestones should be clearly defined to maintain a sense of direction and accountability throughout the process.

Let’s talk a little about the two common methods of operation when merging IT systems: the big bang migration and the gradual or phased migration.

Big bang IT system migration

Blog-divided_headerimage-BigBang

The big bang migration approach involves merging the IT systems of the merging companies in a single, large-scale event. It requires a comprehensive and simultaneous transition of all IT systems and applications from both companies into a unified infrastructure.

This approach is characterized by a swift and decisive integration process where all systems are migrated at once. The big bang approach often requires extensive planning, coordination, and preparation to ensure a smooth transition.

During the big bang migration, there is typically a clear cutoff date when the old systems are discontinued and the new integrated systems become operational. This approach aims to achieve immediate integration and realization of synergies.

Once the migration is complete, the merged entity operates on a single, consolidated IT infrastructure.

In short: shorter timeframe, higher risk.

Phased IT system migration:
Blog-divided_headerimage-Phased

Unlike the big bang approach, the phased approach is more relaxed. If the big bang migration were a weekend in NYC, the phased migration would be a slow week in the Bahamas.

As you can probably guess, it involves a more gradual and incremental migration of the IT systems. It allows for a step-by-step integration process that minimizes disruption and reduces risks associated with large-scale migrations. In this approach, the merging companies identify specific areas or divisions where IT integration can be phased in over time.

The phased approach typically involves dividing the IT integration process into multiple stages or phases. Each phase focuses on integrating a specific set of systems, applications, or business units. Once a phase is completed, the merged company assesses the results, makes any necessary adjustments, and ensures the stability of the integrated systems before moving on to the next phase.

In short: higher cost, less risk.

We've also put together a handy pros and cons list to give a quick rundown of big bang migrations vs. phased migrations:

ONEiO - Seven tips for migration - Big bang vs Phased migrations

One way companies can reduce the downsides of a phased approach is by implementing a flexible integration solution.

ONEiO facilitates phased migration in that you can switch critical systems like your ITSM suite when you're ready to switch. Old and new systems can coexist happily with modular integrations and staff don't have to be retrained quite so quickly. This means there’s even less shock to the system and no obligation to keep the systems integrated due to our subscription-based pricing model.

If you're about to undergo a phased migration, please book a free, no-obligation assessment with one of our integration experts.

3. Ensuring business continuity during the merger

While migrating IT systems, ensuring uninterrupted business operations is paramount. Particularly in the case of larger enterprises, IT system downtime can mean financial (somewhere to the tune of $2,300 to $9,000 per minute) and reputational losses that are hard to come back from.

Creating a fallback plan is crucial in the event of any unforeseen setbacks or system failures. By maintaining essential operations during migration, companies can minimize the impact on customers and stakeholders.

Managing customer and stakeholder expectations is also vital in maintaining trust and confidence. Clear and transparent communication about migration, potential disruptions, and alternative solutions will encourage understanding and support.

4. Address technical challenges proactively

We’re willing to bet that no merger has happened in the history of ever that didn’t have a technical challenge or twelve.

When you boil it down to what you want to happen during a merger (in terms of your IT systems and data) it comes down to a few key things. Most companies want:

  • Data to be correctly mapped and converted
  • Data accuracy and completeness between systems
  • Data transfer and communication flowing between systems regardless of the hardware/software setup, or whether it’s an on-premise or cloud system
  • Data to be secure at all times

The thing is: unless these points are proactively addressed in the planning stage, and seen through until the merger is complete, it’s common that technical challenges arise — and stick around.

So how can you make sure that happens?
Naturally, in our opinion: using integration to help you through the process.

By having a reliable integration solution that helps you achieve a controlled and manageable migration between systems, you can avoid many of the common challenges that come with mergers and acquisitions.

In short, with ONEiO:

  • We create an endpoint for each tool or system you need to migrate
  • Those endpoints communicate exactly how your migration strategy needs them to
  • Endpoints communicate with each other within 1-2 weeks
  • You’ve got the freedom to choose the cadence of your migration

If you’d like to read more about how we do it in practice, here’s a story about our customer Valmet, and how their acquisition and expansion journey ended up with a fully integrated service ecosystem.

5. Test and validate thoroughly

The first part of the testing phase should happen before the project begins. You’ll first want to conduct a thorough assessment of the IT infrastructure of both companies to identify any compatibility issues, overlaps, or gaps. This will help you develop a comprehensive migration strategy and also help you identify areas where you can save on time, infrastructure costs, and specialist experts’ time.

Integration testing is the backbone of a successful migration. It involves verifying system interoperability and identifying potential gaps or bottlenecks. Rigorous validation of system functionality ensures that the migrated systems meet your performance standards.

As an aside, here’s where we tell you that with ONEiO, this step is effectively not necessary.

It’s also a good idea to implement robust backup and disaster recovery mechanisms to safeguard critical data during migration and regularly test the backup systems to ensure they function correctly. That being said, most ITSM systems can roll back to a previous state — so even if fires break out, it’s a relatively simple fix to get things back on track.


6. Rollout and post-migration

With comprehensive testing completed, it's time to roll out the new systems. A well-executed rollout plan minimizes disruptions and facilitates a seamless transition for employees and end-users. Monitoring system performance post-migration is crucial to promptly identify and address any lingering issues.

Conducting a post-migration review provides valuable insights into the overall process, allowing for continuous improvement. Lessons learned can be applied to future migration endeavors, further strengthening the organization's IT capabilities.


7. People and change management: maintaining a positive culture

Managing employee resistance is an emotional aspect of IT system migration. Change can be unsettling (for everyone!), and addressing employees' concerns and fears is key to ensuring the merger succeeds.

Providing comprehensive training programs ensures that employees are equipped with the necessary skills to navigate the new systems confidently while encouraging employee engagement helps build a positive attitude towards the change.

And let’s not sugar-coat things: learning how to use new systems and follow new processes feels like just one extra thing that employees must worry about. When (not if) there’s resistance around the new ways of working, reminding people of the end goal (to work better together) can help ease the frustration.

Throughout the migration process, maintaining a positive company culture is crucial. Open and transparent communication channels foster trust and collaboration. Celebrating small wins and milestones along the way boosts morale and motivates employees to embrace the changes brought about by the merger.


Navigating your post-migration future with confidence

As we’ve (hopefully) made clear, successfully navigating IT system migration after a merger isn’t a simple feat. It requires a comprehensive plan, effective communication, and a resilient team.

By considering the steps we discussed (and any others specific to your business setup) and incorporating emotional intelligence into the process, you can ensure an almost-seamless transition, foster a unified culture and embrace the new connected IT ecosystem.

With a scalable integration solution, you can future-proof your IT systems and be ready for a solid future as a merged company.

We talk about this topic more on our Tool Migration solution page – check it out here.

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Juha Berghäll

Juha Berghäll is the CEO and Co-founder at ONEiO Cloud – a cloud-native integration service provider. He mostly writes about modern integration solutions and iPaaS trends from a strategic perspective.

15 min read
April 10, 2024

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ONEiO is a cloud-native integration service provider. We are driving the industrial revolution in the enterprise integration space by removing all traditional integration challenges by automating integration delivery and production and providing integrations as a cloud-based, enterprise-grade, secure and always-on service with an affordable pay-per-use pricing model.

If you are looking for ways to keep your tools and people up to speed, contact us for a free 15-minute assessment to see how we can help you reach better integration outcomes. With a 100% success guarantee!

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