At SRS Distribution, we have added dozens of independent distributors to our family in recent years, and we’re known for doing it quickly and efficiently. But as you might suspect, there is a great deal that happens behind the scenes to bring it all together. The process we use to switch data systems could help you as well.

The process starts with our senior operations team working with the owners of the acquired company and dealing with the emotions of the sale. Communication is vital to any acquisition, as is timeliness. The earlier we let employees know what is happening, the better it is for everyone. Our most successful integrations are those where the employees of the new company are engaged and prepared for change.

At the onset, our corporate department heads meet to discuss details of the transaction, training, equipment needs, and the all-important date to go live on SRS systems. Our goal is to bring the acquired company onto all our systems the day of closing.

The keys to success are communication, checklists, and leadership on the SRS team to push the deal across the finish line.

One of the first items that we ask for is data to prepare for a physical inventory and conversions into our enterprise resource planning (ERP) system. (Naturally, the accounting department wants financial data and the fleet folks need a list of equipment, but we’re talking technology in this article.)

Our inventory team begins to map the acquired company’s inventory into SRS’ system. This takes one to two weeks, depending on the size of the inventory. Our credit team takes the customer master file and creates customers in our systems. It also does the same for suppliers.

Because our ERP system is a SAAS (software as a service) or hosted solution, our ability to train the new company or branch requires only a solid Internet connection.

The team that assists with the physical inventory and the going-live training on the day of close varies in size based on the target. We make sure we take SRS employees who are strong leaders in their current roles. Warehouse personnel help with inventory; inside sales people are on hand to assist with training; branch managers provide leadership; and regional controllers are on site for verification. Of course, the technology group at SRS also lends a hand in all facets of taking the physical inventory, converting data, and going live.

Typically, we set up all new PCs, laptops, and printers so the technology group is also hands-on setting up and configuring the equipment in conjunction with the close date.

Recently, we created an area on our SharePoint site where we put documents, photos, and checklists for the acquisition team to reference. This has been proven vital in making the transition that much smoother.

Frustrations and emotions tend to run fairly high during the process of an acquisition. It benefits employees on both sides to volunteer and be an active part of the process. Not only do they share knowledge with their new colleagues, they end up learning from the process as well.