The buy-versus-build decision is always a tricky one. If your company is seeking to embark on an acquisition, here are a few considerations to keep in mind.
Determine how it will impact your product, partners and people
If you’re stuck on the buy-versus-build question, first realize that while there are challenges to integrating technology built by someone else, building it yourself is always a bigger effort than the engineers think it will be. Ask yourself realistically: How long will it take us to get a product to where their product is today? Would i be able to use my leadership characteristics?
It’s also important to seek input from your current customers and partners. We took the time to speak with several of them under NDA before finalizing our decision, and their feedback was extremely helpful. We were able to address their concerns and answer their questions. Those conversations not only verified that we were on the right track, but they also helped us shape the message to effectively convey the customer and partner benefits of the acquisition.
We didn’t always do a good enough job explaining the “why” behind certain decisions, which caused some unnecessary turbulence.
You also need to consider the logistics of the process and any potential delays in service or delivery that it may cause. Every acquisition is more complicated than it seems. Bringing new technology into an environment introduces unforeseen challenges, and just as the development of a product can incite issues that engineers hadn’t anticipated during their research stages, restoring “business as usual” after an acquisition can take longer than expected. Be straightforward about timelines, give your team leeway, and expect the unexpected in every area of business.
Communicate, communicate, communicate
As we worked through the process, some of the things we thought would be straightforward turned out to be harder than expected, and some things we thought would be difficult turned out to be relatively easy. Any integration will have its bumps in the road, and blending workforces is the biggest challenge.
One quarter later, we’re still working through it. Fortunately, both businesses are full of great, passionate people. We could have done a better job with internal communication. We didn’t always do a good enough job explaining the “why” behind certain decisions, which caused some unnecessary turbulence. We’re learning as we go, and things are settling down.
Get things done
Acquisitions aren’t as easy, or as hard, as you think. No matter how much you plan and run the numbers, certain aspects will surprise you. My best advice is to have a bias toward action. Get things done and continually evaluate and adjust. You need to be prepared to ride out the emotional roller coaster, accepting victories and defeats as you work through the process, and focus on how your company can bring new value to the market once you reach that light at the end of the tunnel.