Taming the Beast: Tackling the Behemoth Task of Post-Acquisition Document Management

3 Min Read By: Scott McVeigh

Most companies will never deal with such a large volume of documents as they might post-acquisition. For compliance teams, managing this data all remotely is even more of a challenge.

So far, 2021 has been an exceptionally busy year for dealmakers and M&A professionals. In just the first half of the year, global mergers and acquisitions totaled $2.8 trillion, up 131% from the same period in 2020, with the strongest showing through June of any year on record, according to Refinitiv. The same report showed that M&A activity in the U.S. more than tripled to $1.3 trillion, another first half record. In the last few months alone we’ve seen the completion of numerous powerhouse deals, including AT&T’s WarnerMedia and Discovery merger and Amazon’s astounding $8.45 billion purchase of MGM Studios.

Most companies will never deal with such a large volume of documents as they might post-acquisition. And with more deals being closed remotely, the increased use of remote work apps is adding to this challenge, expanding troves of data across a multitude of platforms and creating a storm of fragmented and unstructured data that makes information more difficult to find, process and derive valuable insights from. 

According to market intelligence company IDC, the worldwide volume of data is set to grow from 33 zettabytes in 2018 to 175 zettabytes (or 175 billion terabytes) by 2025, with 80% of it unstructured. From the lens of an M&A professional, unstructured data may mean information buried in existing contracts, old vendor agreements, or IP information, stored within emails and instant messages, virtual meetings, customer interactions, collaborative documents, official records, and almost anything else you can think of with a digital footprint. Combing through these documents manually can risk human error and will certainly cost teams valuable time in searching, processing and understanding all the information that lives across different applications. 

This is where it makes sense to look to technology—and in particular, knowledge integration tools—to help manage this process. 

The power of knowledge integration within the document review process

Unifying information from various applications within a single repository unleashes the potential for rapid search across several data sources, all at once. While this is beneficial during the pre-acquisition stage—to streamline due diligence, for instance—it can also be a powerful capability for supporting a business post-acquisition, by connecting employees of the newly merged company with knowledge and insights that can boost their productivity. Documents (and even specific text within certain documents) that may have previously taken weeks to collect can now be found instantly, on day one post-acquisition. 

Knowledge integration can also help with cutting cost and risk—for instance, by consolidating acquired applications to reduce license costs while retaining the data in one place. 

Overall, knowledge integration can help ensure teams are more prepared, responsive, and empowered. Instead of manually sifting through thousands of documents, dealmakers and their teams can shift their focus toward the bigger, more strategic task at hand: successfully meshing two organizations’ cultures and day-to-day operations to become a new entity. 

The old adage stands true: You don’t know what you don’t know. This is why it’s so important to understand what constitutes your new world of data after a deal is completed; only then can you begin to identify opportunities to generate greater business value. 

For dealmakers, becoming educated on the challenges that unstructured data poses and how that data can be more effectively accessed and managed in a post-acquisition stage is critical. Armed with the right tools, organizations can speed up post-deal day one operations by delivering the information needed to run the business. 

By: Scott McVeigh

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