Developing an M&A Playbook for Your IT Organization

This blog is part 3 of a three-part series titled “The Role of IT in Life Sciences Mergers & Acquisitions.” Read part 1 and part 2

How a step-by-step manual can help facilitate a smooth IT integration during mergers and acquisitions.

In the current biotech landscape, the odds of your life sciences organization being involved in at least one merger or acquisition is high. Businesses are joining forces to create innovative business models built to withstand an industry fraught with financial pressures, legislative reforms and an aging global population. In fact, according to a Deloitte report, 70% of large companies expect to be involved in some kind of M&A activity in the next three years.

If some form of company integration is likely to be a part of your organizational future, then developing an IT playbook is a worthwhile investment of your time. By detailing your IT integration process in a clear, step-by-step format, you’ll ensure that no matter the details of the deal or the personnel involved, you have an evergreen manual to guide your success.

Chapters & Structure

When crafting the outline for your playbook, consider that the contents should span from due diligence through system validation. To begin, it can be useful to define your framework for evaluating existing IT systems and related vendor relationships in a consistent and repeatable manner, including methods to assess for risk and redundancy. From here, you’ll want to develop a roadmap for integration starting on day 1, including how to prioritize integration activities, a timeline for process harmonization and any needed training, and your plan for managing online and paper-based records. Lastly, the playbook should cover your process for system validation, including your validation plan and circumstances under which you might consider utilizing the other company’s validation procedures.

Must-Have Elements & Tools

When considering what tools to include in your playbook, remember that your goal is to create a self-contained resource that can be used again and again. It can helpful to begin each unit with clear objectives and to assign responsibilities to teams and positions within your organization, along with target timelines. Simple checklists and basic templates can go a long way in ensuring your integration methodology is consistent and streamlined. Employee turnover is bound to happen between deals, so do what you can to bake institutional knowledge into the playbook, including a plan to connect team members and document information throughout the process.


Consistency and efficiency are the objectives of your integration playbook; however, the context and details of deals will differ, so don’t expect it to be a one-size-fits-all solution. Your playbook is a living resource that can and should be updated frequently. As your company is involved in more M&A activities, you may find, for example, that the processes that were prescribed for a complete merger may need to be tweaked in the case of a divestiture or program integration – and that’s okay. The important thing is that you schedule a post-mortem meeting so these insights can be shared, incorporated and applied during the next integration. In today’s competitive business environment, they may be needed sooner than you think.