A Panic-Free Guide for When Your ITSM Vendor Gets Acquired

Posted by on January 10, 2017

A Panic-Free Guide for When Your ITSM Vendor Gets Acquired

It’s been several years since the go-live date of your ITSM solution, but you remember it like it was yesterday.

After months of building the business case, outlining the project, gathering requirements, securing funding, assigning owners, establishing the success criteria, and soliciting proposals, you finally selected the solution that was going to allow you to automate your service management processes, reduce the total costs of IT, and improve customer satisfaction. I’m sure there are fond memories about how the vendor you ultimately chose was there to support you every step of the way, from demo to technical review to final proposal.

Tweet this: What should you do if your ITSM vendor gets acquired? 

So what happens when the ITSM vendor you’ve partnered with is acquired by another vendor?

When Your ITSM Vendor Is Acquired

Mergers and acquisitions (M&A) happen as part of the world of business, but it can still feel like a shock when your long-term vendor gets acquired. There are a lot of ways to respond to this news, some of them more productive than others:  

Panic? No.

It is not as if your current solution will cease to work the day after an acquisition. In fact, there may be no short-term consequences at all, as the leadership of both companies have usually been in long talks about what immediate steps to take upon announcing the deal.

Get an understanding of why the merger or acquisition happened? Yes.

Often the drivers for the acquisition are easy to understand. Whether it’s to create synergy based on complementary strengths, accelerate growth and increase market share, or simply eliminate a competitor, the fact is that there tend to be few short-term consequences of M&A—meaning that for the foreseeable future, the business and services run as per usual. That said, you do need to develop a firm understanding of the vendor’s long-term plans, which will vary depending on the reason for the acquisition.

One of the unfortunate realities of M&A is that there are redundancies that need to be accounted for, and changes, whether favorable or not, are inevitable. For example, will account management and customer experience resources remain intact? Will pricing or maintenance costs change? Will current offers and programs in flight be honored, and subsequently executed? Is the product roadmap still set to deliver the features and capabilities as communicated at the most recent global conference? What you need to essentially understand at the end of the day is this: will this acquisition help, or hurt  your organization—and nothing in the initial press release or new CEO announcement letter will provide this information in depth.

Investigate migration programs? It depends…

In the case where product redundancies are at play, migration programs with financial incentives may be attractive, particularly if your organization was already considering making a switch for a variety of reasons. Still, this requires an analysis of the capabilities of an alternative solution. The reality is you’re very likely dealing with separate products, written on separate languages and/or platforms, with different features and capabilities that will cause “migration” to feel just like “rip and replace.” Carefully evaluate a migration program based on its ability to migrate data, as well as processes and workflows—as opposed to a standard implementation project.

Tweet this: Getting a firm understanding of the details of your ITSM vendor's acquisition can help ease transition pain points

Pragmatically evaluate alternatives in the ITSM market? Yes.

Remember all the work a few years back to get your current solution up and running? If you decide to make a switch, you’re going to have to do it again, and no levels of synergy will make the evaluation any easier. The market may have changed significantly or slightly, depending on when you last looked at the ITSM market landscape. There are well over 400 solutions that offer a wide range of capabilities—ranging from basic ticketing to virtualization-enabled continuous automation and delivery—that offer ITIL-based best practices, IT self-service portals, slick dashboards, and alternative licensing and deployment models. Finding an alternative solution won’t be a challenge, but finding the most appropriate ITSM solution for your IT organization and your business will be.

Keen observers of the ITSM market will note that M&A was inevitable in a market this large, and savvy buyers always have their eyes on alternative solutions—if nothing else than to have leverage in tense support and maintenance or subscription renewal discussions. There is no shortage of research and tools that provide an overview of the ITSM market and provide guidance surrounding features and capabilities of the leading solutions. In addition to using those resources to identify alternatives, also discuss options with your peers and broader ITSM communities, to understand the experiences other IT organizations are having with alternative tools.

While you might not be in a position to make a change in the near term, arming yourself with knowledge and information about alternatives never hurts, and plenty of ITSM vendors will be happy to tell you how they differentiate from the competition.