Technology Warning Signs When Acquiring a New Business

July 4, 2016

In some instances, business mergers and acquisitions can be a bit of a shell game. They highlight the positives onto a paper package and downplay the negatives, burying their biggest weaknesses and flaws under numbers and paperwork. It’s not so much that they’re trying to take advantage of you – they’re just hoping that you don’t unearth the bad amongst all the good. But because technology is such an immediate bottom-line impact, it’s important that you take the time to completely understand all aspects of a prospective business you’re researching for acquisition. We already uncovered some of the top technology considerations when acquiring a new business, but what are the warning signs that you should watch out for when you’re in the process of exploring these factors? Here are a few technology warning signs when acquiring a new business:

  1. Bad public customer and client reviews.
    This is something you’ll likely want to do long before you’re going into paperwork and technology, since you want to have a good idea of the reputation of the business – but it’s important to mention nonetheless. Be sure to check Yelp!, Google, Better Business Bureau and other social rating websites to gain a better understanding of the customer experiences that they’re fostering with their technology. Technology makes employees more productive and better able to deliver from a customer service perspective. Red flags would be down phone systems, slow websites, complaints about not being able to access their accounts or other technology-related issues.
  2. Employee complaints or bad employee reviews.
    There are a few different employee rating websites that you can check when you’re vetting a prospective business for mergers and acquisitions. The most popular of them is This website allows employees to leave ratings about the businesses that they’ve worked for, rate the management and executive team and give constructive criticism. This will not only give you insight into how the company is run from a leadership perspective, but also identify technology issues like aging workstations, poor integration between software programs, or poor innovation. You can also identify red flags in any employee conversations or e-mails that you get.
  3. Executives that aren’t tech savvy.
    Not every executive member of an organization has to be tech savvy, but if they’re not they should be paying a CTO or CIO to help manage their technology. Why? Those that don’t use and adopt innovative technology personally often struggle to understand the need for that technology in their business. Symptoms of this are owners who are using very old phones, computers or scoff at “new fangled” technology. If an owner or executive is against technology innovation or appears unwilling to adopt new technology – this is a good sign that the company’s technology is outdated and you’ll have to invest heavily in bringing processes, new workstations, software and servers into the mix.

When it comes to mergers and acquisitions, you don’t want to leave a single stone unturned. Make sure that you know what to look for and do your diligence on the performance of the organization’s current technology. Check out public reviews from customers and clients, employees and feel out the ownership to get an idea of the state of the technology. It’s important to remember that while these are good insights, nothing can replace getting a technology audit. Send in an expert that can break things down piece by piece and give you the best idea of what to expect as you move into the final stages of your merger or acquisition.

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