4 Records Management Best Practices During Mergers and Acquisitions

Tori McClurg

During a merger, acquisition or divestiture (MAD) not only do two organizations join forces, but so do all of their records and data. When you face one of these events, keep in mind some of the unique challenges of records and information management. For example, attrition of transition resources can impact knowledge transfer, storage infrastructure becomes more complex, and lack of metadata can cause lost documents or information.

To help eliminate possible mistakes during a MAD, and allow for a smoother transition, follow this list of best practices:

1. Assign clear roles. Depending on the size of the organization, they may not have a system for moving forward with mergers and acquisitions. It’s essential that you ensure you have an experienced RIM professional assigned to assist with records management during mergers and acquisitions. It is a good idea to establish a team of other experts in the organization, so you can ensure you’re receiving the right feedback.

2. Formulate a plan and strategy. Records and information management programs will need to be implemented for both companies following a merger or acquisition. Each company may have a totally different approach to RIM, so it’s important to establish a clear plan as early in the process as you can.

It may be easier to align the RIM program with the company making the purchase. However, pre-merger discussions can serve as a great opportunity to assess current RIM practices. Complete an analysis of current and incoming RIM programs. Identify strengths and weaknesses — then you can categorize opportunities for improvement and answer how you establish optimal policies moving forward.

3. Know when and how to divest records. Partner with your legal team to identify sensitive information from records that need to be divested. It is also a good time to assess old records you have saved that can be destroyed. Could your records retention schedule be improved? This is a great opportunity to implement a clear and effective records retention schedule across the board.

4. Standardize systems and educate employees. Establish a standard system to convert the necessary documents, and a clear process to search for records (metadata or another form of classification) for records management during mergers and acquisitions. This process can help eliminate duplicate systems and establish an effective IT infrastructure.

Navigating a global merger, acquisition or divestiture can be complex and overwhelming. Do your due diligence in advance and make the transition an easier one for both organizations.

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