5 Tips for Creating a Successful IT M&A Playbook

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Mar 13, 2018

5 Tips for Creating a Successful IT M&A Playbook

Written by Molly Ekelof

Category: M&A

The healthcare industry has seen a steady increase of Merger & Acquisition (M&A) activity, and it is showing no signs of stopping. According to Modern Healthcare, “Half of middle-market healthcare executives plan to merge or acquire businesses in 2018, setting the stage for another big M&A year.” As M&A activity accelerates, IT executives are faced with the challenge of creating a single, seamless systems experience for all users in a newly merged organization. In order to create a unified experience, development of a strategic IT M&A Playbook is essential.

What is an IT M&A Playbook?

An IT M&A Playbook serves as a guide and planning tool for all mergers and is not created with one specific target in mind. The IT M&A Playbook is a subsidiary plan within a larger enterprise M&A Playbook. This enterprise M&A Playbook is typically owned by the Integration Management Office (IMO). The IT Department should be prepared with its own individual M&A Playbook, even if the organization does not have an enterprise plan. The IT M&A Playbook represents a set of standards and steps that can be applied to facilitate the consolidation activities associated with any acquisition or merger.

Here are 5 tips for jump starting your IT M&A Playbook:

1. Be proactive: Create your IT M&A Playbook NOW.

The time to create the IT M&A Playbook is before an imminent merger is signed. A fully developed IT M&A Playbook provides guidance and clear direction for all stakeholders, identifying owners for all activities and phases, along with establishing a logical and pre-defined progression of steps needed to ensure a successful integration. If a merger is on the horizon or already in progress, it’s time to “put the pedal to the metal” and establish your IT M&A Playbook.

2. Identify your team.

Who will be the key contributors and owners of your IT M&A Playbook? You’ll want to identify a Project Manager, Project Sponsor, PMO representative, IT leadership, and appropriate business / operational stakeholders. Assembling the right people, at the right time, with the right level of engagement is crucial. Not everyone will work on every aspect of the Playbook, yet defining roles and responsibilities early will expedite the process. Once the project team is formed, begin defining the methodology for your M&A and leverage the team’s expertise as the outline of your Playbook takes shape.

3. Define your methodology.

Each major methodology step becomes a phase in the IT M&A Playbook. Below is a sample methodology with brief descriptions of each phase:

IT M&A Playbook Steps

  • Define M&A Strategy: This phase defines the overall business objectives, guiding principles, standards, governance, and metrics that pertain to all future IT integration programs.
  • Perform Due Diligence: This phase consists of a formal review of the potential merge organization with the purpose of identifying hidden costs and risks that impact the transaction financials.
  • Execute Transaction: This phase leverages the data and analysis done in the previous phases to prepare for and execute Day 1.
  • Integrate & Implement: This phase follows the defined plans to successfully integrate the organizations, including new organization charts, communication plans, resource plans etc.
  • Operate, Optimize & Sustain: This phase focuses on operating as a new organization with the goal to constantly optimize through tracked key performance indicators (KPIs).

4. Assemble the toolkit.

Each M&A Playbook should include a set of tools to facilitate each of your M&A activities. Examples of these tools include: project schedules, Gantt charts, forms, risk logs, change logs, transition documentation, etc. If your organization has a Project Management Office (PMO), leverage your PMO’s standard tools and documents. Review any previous merger documentation and determine whether it can be cleaned and used as a template. All templates should be included in the appendix of the IT M&A Playbook with clear references in the body of the Playbook indicating when the template should be used. Assembling the toolkit creates consistency of documentation throughout the merger, allowing the organization to remain agile, improving processes and efficiency.

5. Don’t let it sit on the shelf.

The IT M&A Playbook should be a living document. Even if there are no pending mergers, use the Playbook to clean up previous acquisitions. Before M&A activity heats up is the ideal time to socialize it with leadership. This keeps the strategic plan fresh in their minds, creating more efficiencies when it is time to put the IT M&A Playbook into practice!


Mergers and acquisitions will continue to be part of many healthcare organizations’ strategy, and the time to prepare is now! The IT M&A Playbook is your guide, so keep it refreshed and up to date to ensure a seamless experience for your users when the imminent merger arrives!