Mariani Premier Group's Approach to Software Integration After an M&A - The Edge from the National Association of Landscape Professionals

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Mariani Premier Group’s Approach to Software Integration After an M&A

When you consider growing your landscape company through mergers & acquisitions, one of your last considerations might be, “How are we going to combine our different software and technology?”

Yet this is a critical step in the integration process to set your newly acquired company up for success post-merger. Mariani Premier Group has dealt this process multiple times as they continue to grow their family of family-owned businesses.

The good news is that you don’t have to limit your M&A search to companies that utilize the same technology as you.

“Many systems are highly configurable, so it’s typical to see different companies using the same software solution in very different ways,” says Stephanie Blanco, SVP of integration at MPG. “Additionally, our software solutions have and may continue to evolve over time. More important is that companies have good quality data, a strong team, and solid repeatable processes in place.”

Adjusting to Change

Shane Jarrett, chief information officer for MPG, says how long the transition takes depends on the system. Moving to their human capital management system takes place shortly after closing and the transition to their office productivity system is within the first month or two.

“Transitions of LBMS (Landscape Business Management System) and/or accounting systems are scheduled based on various considerations including legacy system, seasonality, size, and complexity of the business, etc.,” Jarrett says. “We prioritize smooth execution over speed in our integration process.”

Photo: Mariani Premier Group

MPG’s software provider assists them with implementation, training and early launch support. They also have fully dedicated implementation experts in-house who can help with all of their major systems.

“Mariani Premier Group is responsible for the training as it needs to be tailored for us and the specific partner company,” Jarrett says. “However, the major systems we use also provide expertise and extensive training artifacts that we leverage as well.”

Blanco understands that change can be difficult so they’ve invested heavily in managing their partners through the integration process. Unlike other M&A situations, MPG strives to preserve what makes their partner companies exceptional to start with: their people. Blanco says the day-to-day experience for the majority of these new associates does not change drastically.

“Associates in specific departments like HR or accounting will experience more change as the former stand-alone company becomes part of MPG,” Blanco says. “For this reason, there is a dedicated central integration team as well as integration specialists in key departments to meet with new partner companies regularly to support them from before the deal is done and until the integration is complete. We also seek to partner new companies with peer mentors from other regional companies to help as needed. This has worked amazingly well and been very rewarding to everyone involved.”

In some cases, new partner companies have introduced new technology to MPG that may become part of their system architecture.

“We are always evaluating the best technology to support our business needs and willing to cherry-pick the best-in-class components from our partner companies,” Jarrett says.

Pitfalls to Avoid

During your due diligence process, make sure you are discussing your integration plan and have resources in place to support the transition.

“Once you understand the plan, take an assessment of your organization to identify who will need to play key roles during the busiest periods of integration,” Blanco says. “Develop plans to free up additional bandwidth for these transition efforts to ensure the continued health of the business during this period.”

Blanco encourages sticking to the ‘go slow to go fast’ motto when integrating software.

“For any systems transitions, getting your house in order with respect to solid systems and clean data is critical for success,” she says. “If you are thinking of selling your company in the next year or two, we’d strongly recommend not making any big systems changes prior to the transaction. Instead, focus on cleaning up your data and tightening up your processes.”

Jill Odom

Jill Odom is the senior content manager for NALP.