Eyes Wide Open: Assessments Vital For M&A Data Migration

For any data migration or IT project, accurate project scoping is critical to success. Whether you’re an IT service provider trying to assess a project for the end customer or an internal IT professional trying to do this for your organization, you need to understand what you’re working with to make an accurate project estimation.

Some key questions to address ahead of a migration include:

  • Who are the users that need to be moved?
  • What are the different technologies involved in the project?
  • Are there any third-party tools that need to be utilized?
  • Who will be given access to critical data, and how much access?

Addressing these questions is especially vital during mergers and acquisitions, where there are many unknowns regarding merging IT environments, and migrating the data correctly is critical. Inevitably, it’s common to find decision-makers who possess only pieces and parts of the information required, making their project scope incomplete. To understand the project scope and the disparate elements involved, you must make an effort to essentially ‘know the unknown.’

See also: How to Use APIs to Help Navigate Corporate Mergers

Critical assessments and discovery

Assessments can provide a comprehensive view into your existing IT environment and mitigate the threat of the unknown. The increased level of insight can result in more accurate project planning, better estimation of project costs, and significantly speed up the project timeframe. With greater visibility, there’s less room for surprises or the element of the unknown to surface.

An in-depth discussion around how the many factors surrounding the M&A directly influence your migration approach needs to occur early in the process. The acquiring organization, for example, will need access to a variety of information for decision-making around data. The project requires significantly more than migrating user mailboxes and teams, there’s a multitude of policies that will carry over. This may be a good opportunity for IT housecleaning. In some cases, there may be data you don’t want to move because it is no longer needed and could potentially incur liability or extra costs.

For security, you need to understand and address any threats or users who’ve had their accounts compromised before moving to the new environment. Passwords need to be reset, and threats should be proactively addressed, so they aren’t carried forward. On the upside, a thorough assessment can uncover a good problem: Discovering a wide branch of information or data points that you may not have expected that won’t be left unaddressed.

M&A data migration challenges

Among the unique challenges of M&A migration projects, the process will raise questions about security and information access. In some M&A scenarios, the process of IT consolidation may begin before the merger or acquisition is complete, creating a slippery slope regarding permissions to grant data access while meeting organizational security requirements.

The acquiring company will require information and data to prepare and appropriately assess and scope the migration project. Not having all the necessary information can impede communication and collaboration around the project.

It’s enviable to bring a comprehensive assessment and understanding of a particular environment so that project discovery is as thorough as possible and nothing is overlooked. But from a security standpoint, as access is gained into the environment, IT staff need to stay mindful of what data they’re leaving behind in the old environment and any security risks this could present. It is critical to not miss a floating OneDrive,  misaligned permissions and setups, or email forwarding rules left in the old environment. Certain credentials must be provided to make sure all old data is archived, decommissioned, or destroyed.

Other revenue opportunities

For service providers, project scoping can greatly aid in establishing differentiation when it comes to competition and helps them win migration projects that are out to bid with RFPs. More notably, assessments help mitigate the dreaded scope creep and change orders.

A genuine benefit for service providers who can adeptly scope migration projects is having multiple ways to generate revenue and create client ‘stickiness.’ Adding in and implementing different types of cloud assessments into a client portfolio to help enhance security, license optimization, productivity, or usage can help service providers win new projects for professional services around migrations. Additionally, enabling your sales organization to add in and implement these long-term assessments and services offers an easy, non-invasive way to monitor a customer’s environment. This can help proactively solve potential challenges or issues for the end customer and hopefully, result in long-term engagement.

Best practices, sound assessments

Bear in mind that there are myriad and often complex moving parts in any migration, let alone one between merging companies. Sound, accurate, and intuitive assessments will ultimately provide greater visibility for enhanced project scoping while mitigating the threat of the unknown and scope creep. Leveraging these assessments for project scoping will help ensure your project’s success while mitigating any unwanted surprises.

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