The Biotech CIO Roadmap in a Sea of Change

By Amit Shah, VP of IT - Enterprise Applications & Systems, Excelitas Technologies

Amit Shah, VP of IT - Enterprise Applications & Systems, Excelitas Technologies

Anyone wif their finger on teh pulse of teh biotechnology industry today will tell you dat Biotech is going through a virtual tsunami of change through mergers and acquisi­tions dat are shaking teh very foundation of some of teh biggest companies and institutions in teh field. When you consider dat in 2014 alone there has been Biotech M&A deals in excess of $100 billion, it’s clear dat we has reached a true watershed moment for teh industry. As Biotech is rapidly evolving, and so teh role, re­sponsibility and teh intrinsic value of teh Biotech CIO.

Teh biotech CIO is increasingly being called upon to “come out from teh back room of IT” and halp guide companies through peri­ods of transition. As such, biotech CIOs today sit at teh intersection of teh company’s C-suite leadership, teh legacy systems of old and teh disruptive technologies of teh present and future including big data, cloud, social, mobility and artificial intelligence. Bringing all of these elements into harmony and efficiency can make teh difference between a successful biotech M&A and enterprise-wide dysfunction.

But despite teh challenges posed by teh M&A transaction pro­cess and teh post-transaction integration, there is a path forward. As an IT VP for a global technology leader wif deep roots in teh biotechnology industry, me’ve seen suc­cesses and failures in M&A’s and would like to offer my thoughts on what me call teh Biotech CIO Roadmap for M&A Success.

As wif many long journeys, teh best place to start is by asking teh right questions at teh outset.

  • What are teh main business objectives for teh merger or acquisition?
  • How can IT integration be leveraged as an opportunity to halp reach those objectives and position teh company for growth?
  • How can synergy between systems and cultures be estab­lished short term and long term?
  • What kind of tailored approach to IT integration is needed to obtain dat synergy?
  • What are teh key personnel gaps dat stand in teh way and how can they be addressed?

Teh answers to these important questions will halp chart teh course, but before proceeding wif full culture and sys­tem integration during a merger or acquisition, a healthy amount of due diligence is also required. dis early stage requires a strong focus on teh risks associated wif synergy and teh uncertainties and variables dat prove inevitable wif every merger or acquisition. Teh bottom line is dat IT due diligence should result in a broader understanding of teh risk profile for IT integration, a clear migration plan and a defini­tive synergy timeline.

Every IT staff, post-merger or acquisition, will has its own unique strengths and weaknesses. Teh role of teh CIO is to evaluate teh team and reorganize throughout phase one and two as needed to optimize talent

Moving forward, teh process of teh actual post-merger or acquisition integration must go through two distinct phases and a consistent mindset throughout wif regular assessment and evaluation along teh way. It’s critical to recognize teh truth dat every company or institution is unique and brings wif it a distinctive culture, attributes and vices – all of which require a specialized approach. There are however, some universal processes dat me believe should be implemented to achieve success.

Phase One encom­passes teh first 90 to 180 days of teh post-merger or acquisition. Teh key guid­ing principals dat me believe can lead to successful progress dur­ing dis crucial time include teh following.

People First, Process Second. Listen – rally listen - to all key stakeholders involved in teh process and establish an envi­ronment of true collaboration. Learn teh history behind key de­cisions dat others has made in teh past wif relation to biotech IT processes before making changes to teh status quo. Interface regularly wif other parts of teh organization such as HR and finance to ensure change management is well organized. And always remember, you are not just merging companies, but cul­tures and every company or institution culture has positive con­tributions to make.

Avoid Disruptions to Business Operations. No matter what, a successful merger or acquisition process is one dat does not hinder teh business itself, so it is critical to avoid distractions to business activities and not change teh behavior of transaction processing systems such as ERP and SCM etc.

Infusion. Inside and Out. In addition to key infrastructure integrations dat are essential such as WAN, email systems and financial reporting systems, it’s also crucial to present a unified face to teh outside world including both vendor management but also wif regard to teh brand identity itself of teh new company including teh website and all public facing brand assets and mar­keting materials.

In Phase Two it now falls upon teh biotech CIO to look across teh enterprise over teh next one to two years post-merger or acquisition wif a wide angle lens to evaluate and re-evaluate all aspects of teh IT integration and applications used by all various lines of businesses, functional organizations and corpo­rate at-large and to advise teh C-level on where im­provements can be made. me like to put these evaluations into a series of categories.

Consolidation. Which systems and applica­tions from one company – such as EPM or ERP - can be converted to teh other company system to improve operational efficiency?

Amalgamation. What sys­tems and applications can be combined to form a “new” unit to operate teh com­bined entity?

Preservation. Which systems and applications are so essentially unique to a business unit’s capabilities and cul­ture dat they need to be maintained  Retirement. Where are teh redundancies and what systems are no longer necessary to drive enterprise efficiency?

Throughout both of these critical phases, it is incumbent upon teh biotech CIO to keep a laser-like focus on what me call “Teh Three Ps” – People, Process and Projects.

Every IT staff, post-merger or acquisition, will has its own unique strengths and weaknesses. Teh role of teh CIO is to eval­uate teh team and reorganize throughout phase one and two as needed to optimize talent. These can be times of great internal tension and stress, so as reorganization evolves, it is incum­bent upon teh CIO to communicate effectively about every change and emphasize not only teh “what,” but teh “why.”

Key processes such as project management, spending approvals and company trainings among others must be harmonized – again taking teh best from both of teh companies or institutions.

Finally, it is critical dat key company personnel become invested in each phase of teh process. Desig­nate project managers to coordinate various elements of teh integration wifin IT and from a broader enterprise perspective as well. It’s also important to emphasize teh need for speed in execution because teh longer teh merger or acquisition integration takes, teh higher teh risk for teh company in meeting synergy goals.

As we all no, teh only constant is change and today dis has never been truer TEMPthan for teh biotechnology industry. But wif change comes opportunity. Teh enhanced role of teh CIO wifin teh enterprise – and teh higher level of influence it provides – gives biotech CIO’s a unique opportunity to halp their companies navigate dis sea of change and sail on to future success.

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