Acquisitions and Start-ups from an ITSM perspective

I'm asked to write about how Group Companies are incorporated into overall IT Service Management. Specifically, what happens if your own company either buys another company or starts another company that will be run as a separate entity (with it's own capital, directors, and premises)?

Of course, I can't answer the question for you - but what I can do is consider some of the issues you might have to work through. Some are conceptual, some practical.

Sometimes we at Serio are asked 'how should we incorporate them into Serio?' when the real question is 'How do they fit-in in terms of IT Service Management'.

I'll refer to the newly acquired company, or the new start-up company, as 'NewCo'.

What is the 'Strategic Vision' for IT in the whole Group?

There may be a Strategic Vision that outlines the approach you take - these usually originate at group Director level. It may be that this will guide you on what you need to do (for instance, many companies centralise IT services, others have a horror of 'Head Office' services and want everything as close to the business and customers as possible). If you are lucky there will be such a guidance, but there is every possibility there won't - at least in my experience.

Will NewCo Management want control over their IT?

The directors of NewCo will be focussed on creating or developing their business, and may see IT as a critical component of their strategy. If so, any suggestion of incorporation of their IT service delivery into existing ITSM services might be unwelcome. Remember that it isn't necessary for them to be tightly integrated in terms of IT to be able to send and receive emails, and share files, with the rest of the group - you can set-up web portals specifically for this purpose.

Will NewCo have its own IT Service Management function?

First of all, is there any NewCo IT Helpdesk or Service Desk? What you are trying to assess is if there is any local function to integrate in the first place. The important thing is how such a service is perceived by the directors of NewCo.

How much interaction between your existing IT service management function and NewCo will there be?

...or phrased another way, 'how much will NewCo use group services'. Try and imagine how many support tickets might need to be passed between the two groups - but be realistic. How much will NewCo and your own ITSM group need to work together (be realistic, and resist the urge to over-estimate).

What are the politics of the situation?

This is most poisonous aspect, particularly in cases where NewCo is an acquired company rather than a start-up. As soon as anyone mentions 'incorporation' or 'merger' of IT services people see their jobs and (most importantly) their prestige to be under threat, any hope of co-operation can go out of the window. People start firing-off their CV's, attitudes become negative, it gets harder to achieve any kind of consensus. Alternatively, you might find two groups of people whose skills complement each other.