M&A the easy way: Three ways intranets streamline the process

Any push to align and combine resources can boost profits, ease regulatory burdens and enhance customer service levels—but with mergers and acquisitions (M&As), the issues get complex.

Three months into 2017, M&A activity has been slow thus far. But deal making is expected to pick up. And any banker who has braved the process will tell you that to strategically combine two or more organizations, it’s a must to effectively manage and distribute key information.

If an M&A waits on the horizon for your organization, you should know how to successfully execute the process of utilizing an intranet—that is, a local or restricted communications network that uses web software. Here are three key factors to consider.

Centralize communications: You intranet’s sure bet

M&A-fueled growth can range from adding a few new locations to quadrupling your bank’s size overnight. Likewise, timeframes can prove unpredictable. You must prepare to centralize all information contained within your bank’s internal library (including policies, procedures and important documents). Make these accessible, searchable and communicable. It is impossible to over communicate; keep in mind all the things you merge during the process.

“We had to combine three banks into one operating bank, so it was essential that we streamlined our processes and got everyone on the same page, and educated in the direction of our policies and procedures,” says Michelle Boggs, retail and deposit operations manager at Park Sterling Bank in Charlotte, N.C.

Like the shared folder many organizations still use, an intranet stores documents in a single location. But the similarities end there. An intranet eliminates duplication, cuts the time to make updates and provides landing pages that allow employees to easily access information, set day-to-day tasks and read up on any M&A-related news. Controlling information at the granular level ensures that nothing falls through the cracks.

Policies, procedures, presentations: Manage more responsibilities

Proven workflows and systems allow you to manage your expanding operations and increased demands that come with working in a newly unified environment. For instance, an intranet’s ticketing system tracks and controls the influx of requests and orders for many back office functions—such as account maintenance, access to confidential folders, special projects or even basic user ID and password requests.

Should you require a core conversion and network integration, expect to use two separate systems until the merger is complete. This requires the development of uniform, bank-wide processes across both organizations to integrate staff across the board.

More regulatory oversight could come into play at your bank following an M&A: It all depends on asset size. A bigger bank also means your leadership will manage more committees, embark on new and unfamiliar workflows and navigate different approval processes. Even training will take on a new dynamic. But you can dedicate entire sections of an intranet to managing policies, procedures, presentations, schedules and important updates.

A workforce to be reckoned with: Creating a new culture

Even if operations and infrastructure flow seamlessly, the mismanaged joining of disparate workforces can derail an otherwise successful transition. Encourage employees to rely on and engage with the intranet—starting with bank executives and senior leadership, says Boggs. “Our leadership emphasizes the importance of using the intranet to get the most up-to-date documents and procedures. That quickly made employees see the system as our frontline communications tool to track news and communication between each other and with management. This allowed our newly-established, bank-wide culture to become familiar and eventually adopted leading up to the merger.”

The marketing team should manage the intranet’s functionality. But each business line leader should oversee their respective portion of the intranet. For example, if you lead a deposit team, you’re also responsible for any information relevant to your frontline operational teams or deposit functions. This ensures that no department gets left in the dark for important news or updates.

An intranet creates a positive environment in two crucial ways: It dramatically improves the bank’s processes for employees and provides greater connectivity among co-workers and as part of the new organization. Not only do they benefit—your customers do. A positive workplace ensures that your customers enjoy a stronger, more consistent level of service.

Putting it all together: Ongoing M&A activity needs outstanding efficiency

In an M&A environment, financial service leaders look for new ways to create efficiencies, combine resources and leverage different strengths, while also reducing expenses. The M&A process is unique in that it combines of operational, informational and human elements. And there is good news: An intranet effectively supports the needs of every individual, department and team in all these areas. Everyone is empowered to embrace a new future and live up to the M&A’s A-plus potential.

Mark Anderson is the CEO of Johnson City, Tenn.-based Banc Intranets.