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Ideas and insights for today’s people-centered leaders.

One of the most challenging times in the life of an HR executive is when his/her organization is involved in a merger or acquisition. It is virtually certain that the Human Capital Management (HCM) systems in which data about the employees of both organizations is kept will be different and incompatible. Yet, getting one’s arms around the employee population of the acquired entity is typically the second most important integration task (the first is all about customers).

Most companies approach this challenge by continuing to maintain the HR applications on both sides, and engaging in a long and painful task of converting the acquired employee population into the system of the surviving entity.

In a merger of any size, this will take a year or longer and cost millions of dollars. While this process is under way, any analysis of the combined workforces is handled outside of the system by spreadsheets. The most common characteristic of spreadsheets is that they are invariably wrong, either because the incorrect data was loaded or because someone changed it.

There is a better way. A truly modern workforce analytics and planning application can:

  • integrate the data from both source systems (and other related sources)
  • provide an accurate environment in which to perform analytics required to align levels, compensation, titles, organizational hierarchy, benefits, skills and a host of other critical people parameters

It can be used to compare various plan scenarios and optimize the merger outcomes. It can compare the “before and after” pictures for the separate entities and the combined whole. It can be used as the repository of historical snapshots for both organizations before the merger occurred for future reference.

Because the modern workforce analytics application should be able to handle multiple hierarchies, it will allow the reconstruction of the organization structures at any point in the time sequence. And it can do all this while the underlying HCM systems continue to be used to process day to day changes in employee status without interruption.

With the help of the right workforce analysis and planning solution, the HCM migration and conversion process is eliminated, along with its associated costs and headaches. At the point where the organization alignment is complete, one of the old HCM systems can simply be turned off. The workforce history survives in the Analytics application, and all future employee transactions are retargeted to the surviving HCM system.

I understand first-hand the complexities involved in workforce optimization during a merger and acquisition. During my tenure as a senior executive at Business Objects and Symantec, I led several strategic acquisitions. If you have any general merger and acquisition workforce questions, feel free to comment on this blog, and I would be happy to assist.

Leveraging People Analytics to Fast Forward with M&A

About the author: John Schwarz

During his tenure as CEO of Business Objects, John doubled the company’s revenue to more than $1.5 billion, executed seven strategic acquisitions, and negotiated the company’s successful sale to SAP. He founded Visier, building on his many years of experience to invent a new approach to answering business intelligence questions. The objective was to fix the perennial problem where business users spend a lot of money on IT and get little or no benefit in return. John is a water baby, always to be found on or in, but never more than a few feet away from a (preferably warm) ocean.

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