Challenging the Complexity of Change

Everyone knows that the signing of ‘final’ agreements in a merger or an acquisition is really only the beginning of a very challenging and potentially time-consuming process of organizational integration. When done well, integration can yield a stronger company, increased profit and the introduction of new diversity that drives innovation and positive change. Of course, doing it well demands a focus on excellence in all the post-closing activities that give life to the agreement. Merger and acquisition (M&A) activities present new opportunities for companies to take a closer look at their strategies around how individuals, teams and processes interact with each other.

Your organization may soon be in the place of having to decide between two or more existing document management strategies. Possibly a new group is coming online that must interact significantly with an existing team in another department or a different country. In a law firm context, it’s easy to envisage the massive number of client and matter records that must be cross-referenced and conflicts resolved when two organizations come together. These are complex undertakings that can result in a significant amount of downtime or an overall degradation of productivity or information integrity if not properly planned.

Of course, the scenarios don’t just play out in the document management system or even the financial system, which are significant undertakings in themselves. Referential information that supports billing, security, matter management and client tracking usually permeate both structured and unstructured content in a massive web spreading across each of the entities participating in the change. To get teams up and running as quickly as possible, firms sometimes forego the resolution of identified issues in the early days of a merger; rather preferring to deal with the pain in small jolts over several months and years, if ever. Unfortunately, disorganized or casually managed content and poorly documented processes only add to the likelihood that the resolution of issues get deferred and the dream of a united and fully effective organization go unrealized.

Alternatively, organizations preparing for a merger could take a different path. Each could look deeply into their own internal systems and practices to find opportunities where they can streamline and clarify their own content and processes. On the content front, seeking to understand where information is stored and how the content in various repositories intersect, improves the internal story while bringing intrinsic value apart from any merger activity. Understanding and organizing content facilitates the application of governance policies in a way that creates a more effective and transparent process. It also makes it easier for users and automated processes to interact with the content and to better capture the domain knowledge that is so easily lost in the confusion associated with massive organizational change.

Risk is another positive casualty of such an effort. When data is organized and understood, it becomes much easier to audit and control without the implementation of tedious, time consuming steps. Well thought out and documented processes offer value as well. One can much more effectively find opportunities for improvement in a process that is well documented. A great deal of value can be derived from mapping consistent interactions between people, processes and content. The effort will further enable the preservation of information about process reasoning, important steps that eliminate risk and the identification of key stakeholders that can offer both insights and approvals. It also protects the firm from a loss of the domain knowledge that gives every organization its competitive edge. As new technologies and new ideas come into the market, the process of identifying opportunities for greater effectiveness through automation and improved practices are much more readily apparent when the whole picture of an interaction chain is in front of you.

There’s no doubt that there’s much value to be had in the introspective prenuptial look, regardless of whether the merger is completed or one party gets cold feet. But the value multiplies when the two parties come together, each knowing who they are and what they can offer. No doubt, there will still be a lot of complexity, but it will also be characterized by clarity. Complexity for complexity’s sake is catastrophe. Complexity understood, provides an opportunity for something much better and a chance for a move towards simplicity and empowerment.

At RBRO we understand the risks and rewards associated with bringing together large amounts of content and diverse work processes when two or more organizations come together. We create solutions that help organizations and teams foster effective ways of working together. This leads to positive transitions for business users and organizations caught up in the uncertainty of change. We help our clients achieve their goals for effective and efficient content and process operations. Our goal is to help simplify the process of change. Let us take care of the hard parts.