Assessing Information Management Programs for Mergers & Acquisitions
Tori Miller Liu

By: Tori Miller Liu on June 25th, 2024

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Assessing Information Management Programs for Mergers & Acquisitions

Data Management  |  Business Process Management (BPM)

I was curious about how organizations cope with information management during a merger and acquisition process. What I discovered when I asked our members in AIIM’s Online Community, is that it’s common during the aftermath of a merger and acquisition to be presented with a dilemma of what to do with the two different information management programs of the merging organizations.

In a recent post, I introduced information management (IM) integration as a needed practice during a merger and acquisition (M&A) process. I also shared some educational sessions featured at the AIIM Conference 2024 that may help you navigate IM during M&A.

An assessment is the first step when considering how to merge two disparate information management programs. In this post, I want to explore the three critical elements of an IM program assessment in preparation (or in the aftermath) for a merger and acquisition:

1.     Information management systems and architecture

2.     Information Lifecyle Management

3.     Data inventory and classification


Information Management Systems and Infrastructure

You should inventory all information management systems in use by both organizations as well as the workflows, integrations, processes, or automations in use for those systems to function effectively. This inventory should include software applications and file share solutions as well as legacy IM storage, according to Wilkins. 

The inventory should also look at versions and product age/deprecation to identify where updates or upgrades may be required.

“For many organizations which use SharePoint, one group might be on an older version, using a classic vs. modern site, or have old workflows, processes, and automation that should be migrated and modernized,” said Doug Yates, IIM Consultant & Advisor, QAI.

Cathy Blosser, CIP, IGP, the Owner / Principal Consultant of IM Visibility LLC, led the information management effort after two separate acquisitions, which also included divestures. Blosser noted that when inventorying systems, it’s important to determine the product owner for the license for each system.

You should also document the respective information architecture and begin to identify areas of discrepancy.

AIIM Fellow Jesse Wilkins, CIP, President and Principal Consultant with Athro Consulting, shared that one main issue in M&A is different naming conventions and folder structures.

“Defining how documents will be moved between systems is critical,” said Blosser. “This includes how the metadata is managed.”


 Information Lifecycle Management  

“During a divesture, you must determine who owns which records and this creates conflict,” said Blosser, who emphasized the importance of deciding to disposition records. “Eventually, there needs to be one retention schedule that is in line with legal and regulatory requirements for the industry.” Blosser recommended leveraging your legal counsel to help establish a unified schedule.

AIIM Board Member John Daly, CIP, the Global Records and Information Governance Manager at Bunge, also mentioned that you may need to cope with two record retention schedules. You should consult with your legal counsel to determine if you unify the two record retention schedules or manage them separately.


Data Inventory and Classification

Information and data is arguably the most important part of integrating two disparate programs designed to manage said information and data.

The experts agreed that data classification, volume, and quality can pose challenges during a merger. 

“One common challenge we see is merging large amounts of data, migrating data, and removing duplicate data,” said Yates.

Wilkins noted that program integration can be challenged by the need to clean up legacy files and systems, especially those containing sensitive or personal information.

While challenges abound with merging data, there are also opportunities to improve data and classification.

“This is an opportunity to revise or recreate taxonomy, especially if a legacy one was not working,” said Blosser.

There is an opportunity to improve metadata, too. “If there is no metadata scheme, create one,” said Blosser. “Review existing ones especially, if a new Electronic Content Management is being put in place” because of the merger.

As part of an assessment, the team should identify all data assets (structured and unstructured). After identifying and documenting assets, it’s important to classify data sets based on sensitivity, criticality, and regulatory requirements. Finally, assess data quality and completeness.


More Resources

If you are looking for additional guidance on the elements of an information management program and how to develop an IM strategy or conduct an assessment, I highly recommend the Certified Information Professional Study Guide. The study guide is available free of charge to all AIIM members. Join today

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About Tori Miller Liu

Tori Miller Liu, MBA, FASAE, CAE, CIP is the President & CEO of the Association for Intelligent Information Management. She is an experienced association executive, technology leader, speaker, and facilitator. Previously, she served as the Chief Information Officer of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) and has 16+ years of experience in association management. Tori is a former member of the ASAE Technology Professional Advisory Council and a founding Board Member of Association Women Technology Champions. She was named a 2020 Association Trends Young & Aspiring Professional and 2021 Association Forum Forty under 40 award recipient. She is also an alumna of the ASAE NextGen program. She is a Certified Association Executive and holds an MBA from George Washington University. In 2023, Tori was named as a Fellow of the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE).