Consolidating Acquisitions to Increase Shareholder Value | How to Overcome Culture & Data Challenges

The following summary is from an ACG event featuring John Trchala, Senior Director of IT at Topcon Healthcare, a leading developer & supplier of diagnostic equipment for the ophthalmic community.

Growing your organization through acquisitions can be a great way to increase shareholder value. Once a new target is acquired, it is important to consolidate and align your company’s IT infrastructure as quickly as possible to create immediate synergy and business continuity. Disjointed or siloed IT operations can reduce productivity, and in some cases, put business goals at risk.

Topcon Healthcare is currently executing on their long-term growth strategy through a series of strategic acquisitions coupled with strong technology innovation and new product offerings. With global offices across Australia, Europe, and North America, the key to their success has been attributed to effective change management, standardized systems, and integrating disparate existing entities within the company. John Trchala, Senior Director of IT sat down with VistaVu’s VP of Customer Experience, Lezli Giguere to discuss how Topcon has leveraged technology to collaborate more effectively across various groups and how innovation drove greater value for their shareholders.

Based on their discussion, here are three ways to overcome people and data challenges when consolidating acquisitions:

1.      Executive Sponsorship is Critical

Having executive sponsorship and alignment is critical in maintaining schedules, expectations, and approvals as you work to consolidate your acquisitions. Enrolling a select group of executives who are responsible for supporting and advocating for your acquisition team when roadblocks arise will ensure the project moves forward smoothly.

With offices in over 10 countries globally, Topcon is very familiar with navigating cultural issues and John identified that having strong executive sponsorship was a key factor in overcoming this challenge. Leaders need to create a common culture but be sensitive to differences, and understand when to embrace these differences and when to maintain consistency throughout the organization. When determining the best course of action, enlisting advice and support from your executive sponsor can help you deliver the news more effectively to your team.

In addition to supporting cultural differences, executive sponsorship is critical for change management and introducing new roles and processes. When acquiring new companies, employees’ day to day jobs can be negatively affected through new systems, structures, and teams — resulting in disruption and uncertainty. Having consistent messaging passed down from executive leadership can help reinforce the necessary changes required to successfully consolidate acquisitions.

2.      Involve IT from the Beginning

IT plays a critical role in successful integration projects since the consolidation of systems can improve processes, budgets, and resources (i.e. saving licensing or maintenance costs). The faster that you can collaborate and reach economies of scale, the more successful you will be. The key to creating this synergy is to establish a common platform with a single point of truth that can deliver consistent data to make intelligent decisions.

Having IT plans & processes in place prior to starting your acquisition can help ensure minimal disruption and mitigate data challenges. John recommends the following technology considerations to increase synergy across your acquisitions:

  • Integration service platform – For example, using ETL to create proper master data structures & to help integrate with your different systems, such as Salesforce and SAP’s ERP platforms
  • Data quality and data enrichment systems – To consolidate accounts and ensure proper, normalized data cleansing of data sets
  • Data migration tools
  • Strong common platform – For example, using SAP Business ByDesign as the master data source and integration destination

Failing to involve IT throughout the acquisition process can result in surprises and unexpected costs.

3.      Foster Relationships with Software Partners

The consolidation of IT infrastructure and data, especially for smaller companies with legacy systems, can create a lot of strain on understaffed internal IT teams. Strategically partnering with software providers can help alleviate the workload and provide faster time to value.

In addition to assisting with the ‘heavy lifting’, John identified that working with software partners can provide tremendous value in product expertise and the overall understanding of any unique business problems or scenarios. When choosing a partner, make sure that they have worked in your industry and have credibility in managing similar operations. Your partner should be able to help you build out the architecture and roadmap of platforms to ensure you are utilizing best practices for each facet of your business. John identified that one of the most important things a vendor can do is to help identify realistic expectations of what your systems can and cannot do, and how to properly leverage their functionality to change and grow with your company.

An important success factor in Topcon’s consolidation strategy has been their relationship with VistaVu Solutions. For Topcon, VistaVu has helped facilitate conversations with SAP to make product changes to support their enhanced subscription model. Lezli Giguere has advocated for Topcon, navigated SAP’s product leadership teams, and been the liaison to provide SAP with a better understanding of Topcon’s subscription contract needs and new business product offerings.

Topcon also participates in VistaVu’s monthly customer council, led by Lezli, and continuously connects with leaders at various companies to share best practices and learnings around SAP Business ByDesign. Ongoing education opportunities have also provided insights into new changes, beta opportunities and system capabilities that have increased efficiencies and streamlined processes at Topcon.

By leveraging technology to create synergies across their various groups, Topcon has successfully overcome people and data challenges. Their formula to leverage executive sponsorship, involve IT early, and engage strategic partners has served them well. They have added new product lines and business models, while establishing themselves as a leader in manufacturing and delivering value to their shareholders.

If you have any questions on how you can consolidate your acquisitions, please reach out to VistaVu.

To watch the recorded PERT webinar ‘Consolidating Acquisitions to Increase Shareholder Value | Best Practices from Topcon Healthcare,’ click here.

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