While the acquisition in and of itself may not be cause for concern, how it impacts your organization--both in the short and the long term--is something leadership expects you to manage with care. Already, your CFO is asking about rate changes. Your CTO wants to know what’s going to happen to tech support. And your CEO wants to know why you didn’t see this coming.
And you’re not alone. Since December, both SuccessFactors and Taleo--big-time vendors for talent management systems--were acquired by even larger legacy ERP providers. And while an acquisition in and of itself may not be cause for concern, how it impacts your organization is something leadership expects you to manage with care. To lend you a hand, I’ve put together some suggestions on managing the uncertainty that is often associated with acquisitions like these.
1. Take a Deep Breath
Before you hit that panic button, rest assured that very little is going to change in the near-term. In the longer-run, though, things can go either way. It’s possible that SAP and Oracle will flex their financial muscles and tap their vast development resources to significantly improve SuccessFactors’ and Taleo’s already solid products. It’s also possible that the level of customer service you were accustomed to will change--for better or worse--because now you’re working with a behemoth instead of a smaller company. The point is, something will change, but it’s too early to tell what.
2. Review Your Contract
Even your contract isn’t up for renewal anytime soon, some higher-up in your organization is bound to ask you some questions about immediate impact. So be proactive and review your contract. Is your pricing model frozen during the remaining contract term? The reflexive response is often to extend your term to avoid increases in rates a year from now, but Roy Altman, CEO & Founder Peopleserv, suggests you’ll want as much flexibility as possible. “Experts are going to say, ‘Lock in the long-term--the rates are going up.’ I say, do the opposite!” If you’re looking to keep financial impact at a minimum, flexibility could prove more valuable when changes are rolling out.
3. Touch Base with Your Account Manager
In times of change, maintaining an open line of communication is key. To that end, stay in regular touch with your Account Manager. Feel empowered to voice your concerns and ask direct questions about changes in product direction, service or support that are on the horizon. However, be sympathetic to the fact that he or she might be in the dark, and understandably as anxious about changes as you are. Be patient.
5. Identify your Dependencies
There may be a part of your talent management process where software is essential to its success. For instance, performance management might be the most important part of your process, and you rely heavily on SuccessFactors for that function. The worst time to realize that dependency is after something you rely upon has changed. If SAP or Oracle makes a product change that breaks your custom workflows or configurations--which often happens unintentionally--you'll want to have a workaround in place.
6. Leverage the Open API
Rather than replacing your entire talent management system simply because you’re afraid of a change in, say, the software’s recruiting and onboarding functionality, there is another option to consider: extending your existing product capabilities by integrating other point solutions via an open API (in tech speak: application programming interface).
Altman suggests, “Take advantage of a SaaS (software as a service) platform, and gear toward agility. Build into your strategy a method of adding in software that works. If you need a best of breed solution to pick up some slack, you should be able to do that.”
Master Your Domain
It’s easy to be intimidated when your vendor is acquired. Change can be painful. But remember that you’re not a helpless bystander. As Finnegan points out, “You need to understand the leverage you have as a paying customer. You’re the master of your domain.” After all, at the end of the day, neither SAP nor Oracle win if they start hemorrhaging customers from companies they paid a hefty price to acquire.
Also keep in mind that if you’re ultimately not happy with what the new direction the vendors take, there are always other options available to you.