Post-merger IT integration and IT separations have become commonplace in the IT operations of most companies. Many of these incidences take a long time to do or are never truly completed – with often reiterated consequences. How can you make improvements in this area, how can you minimize risk and prevent pesky long-term consequences?

A reliable basis of information is the key to becoming faster and more efficient. How high is the cost for the integration of two badly documented IT organizations? How quickly can you carry out a spin-off in your IT? Do you have a good basis of information, with which you can support a spin-off?

Integration or Separation: It’s all a Matter of Perspective

Most IT separations are followed up by an IT integration, many IT integrations are preceded by an IT separation. The issues of both perspectives are the same. Much of it is a question of documentation and organization. Everything gets a lot easier if you know what you’ve got and what you really need.

It is, however, not an easy challenge: Shared data centres must be separated, while separate data centres should be joined. Shared applications must be broken down, while complying with data protection requirements and various applications should be merged with own data bases, etc.

“We’ll Just Follow the Blueprints!”

One might think that IT integrations or separations are done so frequently in some companies that there should be actual procedural blueprints, skilled experts and that one’s own IT department should be well prepared in terms of documentation. All the information needed for integration or separation is on hand and of high quality after a number of iterations and projects are pulled through professionally…

That is – unfortunately – not the case. Hardly any IT organisation exists that has the wherewithal to carry out a truly structured integration or separation. No preparation is done for the integration of one’s own IT and nobody can actually separate parts and hand them over in a structured manner. What can be done?


Divide and Rule: Documentation in 7 Workstreams for Success

Separate the task into manageable subtasks early – i.e. right from the start. A good approach – and not just for separation or integration – is a separation into individual workstreams, which align with contiguous areas.

#1 IT Infrastructure Services

That includes shared services, as well as IT assets from the areas of network, data centres and computing (CPU, storage, backup, etc.). These areas are well documented in most companies. In separations, documentation in the area of security is key.

#2 Applications & Data

Shared applications generally pose a special challenge. Application integration, as well as the interface points between applications are often neglected at the start. Shared data is generally a huge issue and more often than not poses a source of risk. It is never too early to develop and document data extraction and transformation concepts!

#3 Identity & Access Management (IAM)

While the separation of an active directory or an LDAP directory might still seem a relatively manageable challenge, the integration of two separate directory services may have already become an insurmountable stumbling block. And we’re not even touching on user management on application level or a company-wide SSO (Single Sign-On).

#4 Services for the End User

End user services often are a test of patience and dedication. Separation may be time-critical here, while integration is all about minimising costs.

#5 ITSM, Supplier Management & IT Governance

The importance of IT service management, supplier management and IT governance is often underestimated. While questions about the IT organisation are generally handled well and information is easily accessible, important data about suppliers and ITSM processes are much harder to come by. In case of separations that may pose a number of risks. Costs for integration increase.

#6 License Management

Once the separation process begins, you must know which licenses are available and which are still needed. Which licenses will you be able to continue using after a separation? What other licenses will be needed?

#7 IT Information Management

IT information management is the glue that holds it all together and the basis for all decisions. The earlier you begin collecting IT information, the more comprehensive and reliable that information basis becomes, the more effective and efficient your IT integration or separation will be.


Project Phases, Start of the IT Project & Information Management

You are one of those who don’t have comprehensive background knowledge or already do IT information management? You can’t afford to procrastinate – start on the very first day and take advantage of the pre-signing phase! 

Implement the necessary workstreams as early as possible, assign key roles to your best personnel and build up knowledge about your IT. Formulate goals: Start your IT information management and develop a high-level solution design.

The IT project phases can in part be run in parallel. The ‘as is’ analysis, for example, can start immediately and continue right into the transition phase. The rule of thumb in IT is: Better is the enemy of good.


Reliable Information Minimises Risks in Separations

Separation has its very own can of worms. At the very latest after a signing, buyers and sellers have very different points of view and follow their own objectives. The seller will start thinking about compliance and regulations regarding buyer access to systems and data very quickly. The buyer is suddenly confronted by risks regarding service accessibility based on insufficient information and a lack of qualifications. A good information basis is the only thing that can help here. The earlier qualified and reliable information can be on hand, the faster and better good decisions can be made.


Integration Shortfalls

While the main concern in separations is risks, it is mainly shortfalls that cause after-the-fact problems in integration. Incomplete IT integrations create a whole zoo of applications and systems. Anything that wasn’t structured before it was merged will cause long-term problems.

“Temporary solutions” are often the go-to procedure if there is not enough time or resources for a comprehensive integration. You should document these meticulously. Nothing is more permanent than a temporary solution. And afterwards, nobody can recreate the complexities. That doesn’t just mean more costs. Important adjustments to business areas and processes can only be done to a limited extent – they will be virtually paralysed.


Information is Everything

IT separations and integrations basically have one thing in common: The scope and quality of the information basis decide over success or failure. The premise is the same as in other areas like IT operations, cloud migration or an IT audit: The chances for success increase exponentially, the better you know your own IT and the more information is at hand. Knowledge – in this case about the IT – is a key prerequisite for effectiveness and efficiency.

Be proactive and start preparing early. A subdivision into so-called workstreams will be invaluable on your way to success.


IT Integration and Separation (PDF)
… and how documentation prevents pain.

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Date: July 2019
Author: Gregor Bister
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