How to Manage Records During a Merger or Acquisition – Part 3

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Last week’s post, the second of a three-part series, provided direction on how to conduct a pre-integration inventory and audit, as well as some questions to ask yourself in the process.

This third and final post in our series focuses on integration and beyond.

Phase 3 – Integration

Integrating an acquired collection is where you will get into the real heavy lifting – ensuring that records and information from one organization are combined successfully with the other, along with the supporting staff, processes and technology involved.

Of course, before the work can start you need to determine what the integration will look like, and this will somewhat be dictated by the nature of the deal. However,

regardless of the situation, the integration will generally include three parts: the physical file move, the integration of records and systems, and training.

A. Manage the Move

If records are physically moving from one location to another, you need to ensure that the move is planned and managed to ensure the security, integrity and confidentiality of all files involved.

For information on how to do that, download our toolkit, Corporate Moves Complete Toolkit.

B. Manage the Integration of Records and Systems

The following checklist includes all the major items that need to be considered for integration under a typical merger or acquisition. In your integration plan, be sure to account for each of these that apply.

  • Records storage: combining two or more records collections into a shared storage environment
  • Document classification and retention: converting records from one classification scheme and retention schedule to another
  • File numbering: converting records from one file numbering scheme to another
  • Physical file design: converting files to a common standard for folder design and labeling
  • Shared documents: integrating records operationally, so that they can be accessed and shared by individuals at different entities. This will likely involve imaging documents and using records management software to make them available to staff members.
  • File tracking and records management software systems: importing acquired records into the parent system, converting classification codes and file numbering as needed.
  • Records management training: updating the records management training programs to reflect the post-deal information landscape.

C. Train Staff Members

Merger and acquisitions bring with them new faces, new records, new systems and new technologies. As part of your integration efforts, you need to ensure that staff are trained on the changes so that they can stay productive during and after the transition period.

To help you do that, see our comprehensive white paper, Designing and Delivering a Records Management Training Program.

Phase 4 Post-Integration Monitoring and Adjustments

Regardless of how well you plan and execute a large corporate transaction, the chances are slim that everything will work perfectly right away.  And once you iron out any initial kinks, you need to keep an eye on the transition to ensure everything runs smoothly.

Here are some of the key things you may need to monitor:

  • Have you carried out all remediation steps to address records management gaps? For example, have incomplete files been restored with all of their missing documents?
  • Have all potential risk and privacy issues been addressed?
  • Are staff members able to do their jobs efficiently under the integrated system?
  • Have staff become proficient in using new software systems?
  • Are the new filing or labeling systems working well and serving the needs of staff?
  • Are any new training programs adequately preparing staff to operate in the new environment?

Our short series of blog posts has shown that mergers and acquisitions are a challenging businesses. Fortunately, with a methodical approach and the application of best practices, you can avoid the risks and keep everything running smoothly.

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