What’s the hardest part of managing a merger, acquisition, or divestiture? The answer may seem to be getting lawyers and regulators to sign off on the deal or handling the business restructuring that follows.
But here’s another hairy M&A and divestiture challenge which executives too often underestimate: migrating massive amounts data, most of it unstructured, between entities. When you create a new company through a merger, acquire an existing company or spin off a new business out of an older one, you typically need to move and restructure a number of data assets—ranging from business records, to documentation databases, software source code, and beyond.
Here are the needs and risks:
- Large volumes of data across the entities requires a plan for data transfer as well as combining and purging data. This is difficult with petabytes of data distributed across multiple data centers, clouds and branch locations.
- Time for data management planning is not always accounted for in the reorganization, leading to a situation where data transfers happen quickly and haphazardly. Data can get lost, damaged, or mismanaged. Now somebody’s got to clean up that mess later and it won’t fall just on enterprise IT’s shoulders—but all departments, divisions and executives across the organization.
- A major business restructuring from a merger or divestiture carries with it legal risks—for privacy, security, auditing and more. These things can take a big financial bite later if issues with customers or regulators occur.
- Not all data needs to be migrated during a divestiture or an acquisition—figuring out what data should stay, what data should migrate, what data is obsolete and then taking the appropriate action can be cumbersome, laborious and error-prone.
A data management plan for M&As should allow you to plan, identify and move data as efficiently, reliably, and cost-effectively as possible. It should also provide deep visibility into the data so that you can stay on top of any security, compliance or auditing challenges that may arise in the future.
Keep reading for tips on how to formulate a data transfer plan to support M&A operations in an efficient, low-risk and low-cost way.
Just Say No to the Data Storage Dump
It’s common to take all or most of the data from the original entity and dump it onto storage infrastructure at the new company. While this may seem like the simplest way to handle a data migration, it’s problematic for several reasons. First, it’s highly inefficient. You end up transferring lots of data that the new business may not actually need or records for which the mandatory retention period may have expired.
A blind data dump from one business to another also increases the risk that you’ll run afoul of compliance or security requirements that apply to the new business entity but not the original one. For instance, the new business may be subject to GDPR data privacy mandates because of its location in Europe. But if you simply move data between businesses without knowing what’s in the data or which mandates it needs to meet, you’re unlikely to meet the requirements following the transfer.
Last but not least, blindly moving and storing data deprives you of the ability to trace the origins of data after the fact. You won’t be able to determine which business originally generated a document or data set, for example. That could become a problem down the road if, for instance, you need to perform legal discovery.