Mergers and acquisitions are both exciting and challenging for businesses, as they are often accompanied by fresh talent, new ideas, and greater business opportunities. Yet there is also an abundance of strategic decisions and technological considerations that need to be made before, during, and after the merger or acquisition.
During a merger or acquisition, organizations commonly reevaluate their B2B integrations that connect up their supply chain and flesh out their expanding ecosystem. Since both companies in a merger or acquisition have their own solutions already in place, this frequently leads to conversations about cost savings, system redundancy, and determining the most fruitful approach to consolidating solutions and platforms across both organizations.
Deciding whether or not to consolidate solutions can be a tricky and confusing process, as well as deciding which solutions should be removed and which should remain. Or if both solutions go and an entirely new solution should be brought in. Below we outline the decision process of consolidating processes, as well as how Cleo solutions can help during this transition.
Before we dive into how companies decide whether to consolidate solutions and the best way to go about doing so, we first must understand each party in a merger or acquisition.
The acquirer in a merger or acquisition is the company that bought the other organization. They almost always have more influence and decision-making power since they are the to-be parent company that is absorbing the other business. This means that they often spearhead the assessments of the processes, operations, technology, etc.
Additionally, the acquirer is likely biased towards their solutions since they are already familiar with them. Although, if they are not happy with their current products or services, they will probably be much more open towards finding and implementing a new solution.
The acquiree is the company that is purchased during a merger or acquisition. The acquiree may find that they have less influence and decision-making power since it is being bought out. However, the acquiree still has input and can make a case for its needs and wants, especially if its current operations are running successfully, or if it communicates that it’s not operating as well as it could be.
Combine Solutions or Keep Them Separate?
One of the first orders of business during a merger or acquisition is assessing the recently bought organization’s operations, processes, solutions, expertise, etc. Typically, this transpires as a long internal evaluation process where both organizations assess their technology stacks and compare solutions.
During this process, the organizations may find that they have redundancies in software, whether that be the same solution or different solutions that perform the same function. When different solutions are found to perform the same function, companies frequently want to consolidate software solutions to make the operations more streamlined, central, efficient, and cost-effective.
The main dilemma organizations are presented within this scenario though is that if both companies in the merger or acquisition have a business relationship with the same trading partner(s), those relationships likely need to stay separate, at least for a certain period of time. This is due to the business processes and distribution networks that are already in place for each company, and the potential downside of disrupting those too much or too soon. Therefore, even if solutions can be consolidated and leveraged by multiple divisions, the multi-relationship complexity remains.
In this predicament, companies need software that can not only consolidate solutions but also keep business relationships separate.
The Cleo Solution
Assuming the companies decide to move forward with consolidating their technology solutions, Cleo is an excellent option and business partner for all parties involved -- whether Cleo products are already being used or not. With Cleo, companies can make their digital ecosystem more connected, flexible, and seamless than ever before. We dive into the benefits below.
It is highly beneficial to harness Cleo technology, such as Cleo Integration Cloud (CIC), when consolidating solutions because it can replace multiple integration software tools with one, all-encompassing single-platform solution.
If a company does not have widespread integration, EDI protocol support, and/or API capabilities, it hinders the number of trading partners they can conduct business with.
Companies can address this concern by implementing multiple solutions to address each need. This increasing portfolio of solutions greatly emphasizes complexity and confusion as various, disparate solutions are each performing a specific function. Having to maintain all the intricate connections and quirks of each solution quickly becomes tangled, time-consuming, and expensive. This is further compounded when two companies are merging together.
For example, instead of a company needing two different EDI integration solutions and three API solutions, companies can use CIC to address all these needs. This is largely due to CIC’s vast integration, EDI protocol, API, and MFT support.
Keep Business Relationships Separate
Pre-acquisition, it is likely that the two organizations had common customers, vendors, and partners. In some cases, this can be an opportunity to consolidate, but in others, this requires them to keep these business relationships separate. Platforms like CIC allow for multiple divisions within a group to maintain their own environments, while gaining control and visibility throughout its own environment.
Integrate with Cloud Solutions and Legacy Platforms all in One
A common pitfall of integration solutions is surprisingly their lack of integration capabilities. Frequently, solutions do not have the widespread integration support one might think.
However, CIC is application agnostic and has vast integration capabilities, allowing companies to connect to nearly any ERP, TMS, or WMS systems no matter where they are hosted and how “modern” or “legacy” they may be (e.g., AS400 vs Cloud, File-based vs API-based integration).
Managing integrations can easily become complex and lead to a host of unwanted issues, as there are a lot of interconnected and moving parts. These issues are exacerbated when there is no visibility into processes, nor any insight into why or where errors are occurring. Luckily, end-to-end visibility is baked into every Cleo product, in particular our latest solution, Cleo Integration Cloud With RADAR.
Real-Time Data and Customizable Dashboards
One of the biggest perks of consolidating to one solution for EDI integrations is gaining real-time visibility across all integrated systems and trading partners—though not every solution on the market offers this.
For example, companies can integrate their entire digital ecosystems, from ERPs and TMSs, to WMSs and EDI. Integrating all systems with CIC allows for automated data capture that is updated in real-time and can be accessed in one, central location. The central location is within the CIC platform and appears as customizable dashboards. Dashboards can be personalized to the user, so they only see the data that is most relevant to them.
In the scenario of a merger or acquisition, users can create separate dashboards for each business while still accessing them from the same central location. Or, dashboards can be customized to be a mix of data from both businesses. This is extremely beneficial for all levels of employees, especially company leaders that need a quick snapshot of how their businesses are performing. Within a matter of seconds, users can access the real-time data they need, in easily digestible and visual formats.
Furthermore, visibility into errors is greatly heightened. Using CIC across all businesses allows companies to create error notifications that are sent to users when an issue is detected in their integrated digital ecosystem.
Additionally, these notifications (via in-platform or email) highlight where the errors occur, meaning companies can jump right into fixing issues instead of wasting valuable time tracking down where the errors are stemming from. All this makes it much easier for system administrators to monitor and manage digital ecosystems since everything is centralized.
When a company introduces new technology or processes to team members, there is inherently going to be a learning curve. With Cleo though, the learning curve is very short and easy thanks to our user-friendly design, Cleo University, and our in-house experts.
CIC is intuitive and easy to use, even without a strong technological background. The platform is designed so that even users who are not dealing with integrations on a regular basis – like C-level leaders or line-of-business managers -- can navigate it.
This empowers everyone within an organization to dive into the platform to either make the changes that need to be made or collect the information they need. Yes, even the C-suite can hop into the CIC platform and find what they are looking for.
When implementing an integration solution, companies need to consider the learning curve. Since it is easier for employees to become proficient in one software rather than having to learn multiple, it is usually in the acquirer’s best interest to consolidate B2B integration solutions between them and the acquiree.
Consolidating to one software is highly beneficial for employees because it is:
● Less time-consuming to learn only one software
● Sourcing skilled talent is easier since a smaller skillset is required
● Employees can specialize in the particular software—making them more efficient and knowledgeable
● Employees can work across either business
● Monitoring and managing integrations is simplified, along with error-resolution
With business moving faster and profit margins getting slimmer, companies need to be highly efficient and operating at peak productivity. This can be challenging during a merger or acquisition because a lot of operational changes tend to occur. With Cleo though, we offer advanced features that make consolidating solutions a breeze and speed up processing times.
According to Cleo’s 2023 Ecosystem Integration Report[SJ1] , 44% of survey respondents say it takes between one week and one month to onboard a new business partner. Furthermore, 16% say it takes more than one month.
As a Cleo customer, you can expect 4x faster partner onboarding thanks to our innovative features. Companies can accelerate time-to-business and start earning revenue faster by quickly connecting with partners using AS2, APIs, SFTP, REST, eMail, and more. We also have full-service implementation and managed services teams that companies can utilize to accelerate deployment and partner onboarding.
Prebuilt Maps, Templates, and Accelerators
EDI mapping is the actual process of EDI being translated into a format that the recipient or other platform (such as an ERP) requires. Cleo customers have access to thousands of prebuilt EDI maps and templates that can be tweaked to fit each company’s needs, instead of having to build each one from scratch. This leads to faster EDI partner onboarding and speeds up time-to-revenue.
Another key feature that increases efficiency is CIC Library, including our CIC network accelerators. These accelerators provide the industry’s only prebuilt, end-to-end integrations with out-of-the-box business logic between your core business system (ERP, TMS, WMS) and ANSI X12, building the foundation for you to rapidly scale your trading partner ecosystem.
Some examples of prebuilt accelerators include integrations with Shopify, Amazon, Adobe, Walmart, and TruckMate.
CIC automatically and easily integrates with back-end office applications to enable end-to-end EDI automation. Companies can fully automate a number of different processes, including order-to-cash, procure-to-pay, and load tender-to-invoice.
Furthermore, companies that are undergoing an acquisition that are consolidating to CIC can automate these processes while keeping business relationships separate. So if both companies are trading with the same partner, they can still maintain the separate business processes and distribution networks that are already in place for each company, while simultaneously gaining all the benefits of automation.
Changing, migrating, and/or consolidating solutions can be a daunting task for a company to handle on its own. While definitely feasible, it can be helpful to have the option of outsourcing some or all of the responsibilities to a team of experts.
Managed services can be thought of as outsourcing. Managed services can help companies during their integration consolidation by handling a variety of different responsibilities. These include partner onboarding, adding or changing maps, error resolution, system maintenance, updates, and more.
Managed services are particularly helpful if a company does not have enough employees with the right skill set, experience, or bandwidth, which may happen during a large integration consolidation project.
Cleo’s managed services team has more than 900 years of combined integration experience, meaning they have the skillset and background to ensure a seamless implementation and consolidation.
Self-service is when a company handles integration internally, using its own team members to handle the project. Hence, this option requires companies to have in-house experts that possess the right skills and experience to handle the job. Cleo does offer trainings and courses (Cleo Learning) to help teach and guide the integration team through the project.
One of the largest benefits of self-service is that companies have the greatest level of transparency over their integrations. This is because they are the ones that perform the integration implementation/consolidation. Therefore, they know exactly how everything is set up, which makes it easier to resolve errors, make adjustments, and generally understand how the solution fits into the digital ecosystem.
One of the newest models, blended services, is a hybrid of managed-services and self-service. This is a more customized approach as companies can decide how much involvement they want from the managed services team. They can choose which responsibilities to keep in-house and which to outsource, essentially choosing their level of involvement and to a degree, their level of control.
Furthermore, companies can alter their blended-services plan depending on their evolving demand and needs. This option offers the most flexibility, which can be highly beneficial when working on a project such as integration consolidation.
Access 2023 Ecosystem Integration Report
Mergers and acquisitions are substantial endeavors, as both companies in the deal are striving to align culturally, technologically, and financially, while simultaneously navigating through sweeping changes across their customers’ experience. One way to simplify the stress and complexity of two companies coming together, and ensure a positive experience for ecosystem partners, is to consolidate integration platforms. This allows for greater efficiency, end-to-end visibility, flexibility, and usability for all stakeholders; from front-line IT workers to C-suite executives.
Whether one of your businesses is already using Cleo Integration Cloud (in whole or in part) and wants to bring another business onto the platform, or you want to migrate multiple businesses to a Cleo solution for the first time, Cleo can help. Our team of in-house experts, from our SMEs and account executives, to customer success managers and solutions architects, are here to help you find the best solution for your needs, and are here to help you every step of the way.
If you have questions about what was covered in this blog, EDI, or Cleo’s products and services, contact us at email@example.com or +1.815.282.7695. Or explore some of our educational resources through our content hub.