• Accounting

How accounting firms should leverage cloud-based collaboration tools during mergers and acquisitions

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Following a slowdown of mergers and acquisitions early in the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of M&A deals at certified public accountant (CPA) firms rebounded in 2021 — and the Accountants Advisory Group predicts that 2023 will break records for the number of CPA firm M&A and private equity transactions. In other words, accounting firms have been able to not only continue but actually increase and improve their M&A transactions in the wake of a global pandemic.

Learn how accounting firms were able to accomplish this feat, and how investing in cloud-based collaboration tools can help your firm do the same.

Enabling the M&A process with cloud-based collaboration tools

After investing in cloud-based collaboration tools to support the sudden pandemic-induced shift to remote work and dispersed teams, firms were able to use those same tools to connect with other firms during the due diligence and execution phases of new M&A transactions much more effectively.

Prior to the pandemic, a potential merger or acquisition would require teams of people across multiple organizations, business units, departments, or functions to meet as part of the due diligence process. Even for smaller transactions, this requires significate resources, time, money, and travel to achieve.

During the pandemic, firms had to pivot and find another way to continue with mergers and acquisitions while supporting their remote and hybrid work. To do this, many firms turned to cloud-based collaboration tools like Microsoft Teams.

Microsoft Teams lets multiple professionals connect remotely via chat and video conference. Firms no longer need send a select team to meet a company’s representatives in person, saving them from the significant travel and time investments associated with the traditional due diligence process. Firms can also include far more people in the due diligence process from a wider range of expertise via a remote engagement. By engaging a wider stakeholder community, the due diligence process can be done much more effectively and comprehensively, as both parties can gain a better perspective on whether the company is a right fit.

Cloud-based technology has also proven to be highly useful during the data integration process, as IT teams have an easier time migrating acquired companies to new cloud-based applications rather than on-premises systems. Accounting firms typically operate across multiple, local offices, and cloud-based solutions that are more elastic and scalable can help connect their data while supporting changes in data volume and complexity. Additionally, platforms like Microsoft 365 offer enterprise-grade security that supports data sovereignty and compliance requirements.

Leveraging Microsoft Teams for remote collaboration

After an M&A deal goes through, both parties will need to address common challenges, such as combining differing company cultures and technologies, and revising existing workflows.

Most firms already adopted the Microsoft 365 platform during the pandemic. Although some use the platform extensively, most simply use Microsoft Teams for chat and video calls, Microsoft Office for document creation, and Microsoft Exchange as their mail server. No matter how firms use Microsoft 365, the fact that their teams are already familiar with the platform and its tools greatly simplifies change management, as merging teams do not have to learn a completely new product.

Microsoft Teams can further help with the change management process. The tool lets both parties easily connect with one another in various ways — from informal chat messages to video calls — helping them feel more included and less isolated during the merger or acquisition. Users can share key documents, new workflow processes, company news, and other information to get teams up to speed and help them navigate the transition period.

Even after the M&A deal is complete, having visibility into the firm’s shared knowledge will prove useful for future new hires, as they’ll be able to find all the information they need and better understand your company’s culture and strategy.

Streamlining document management

Although Microsoft Teams greatly improves firmwide collaboration, it lacks industry-specific features that accountants need to efficiently perform their duties. For example, it can be difficult to properly manage documents within Microsoft Teams. In an effort to bridge these gaps, accounting firms often end up investing in additional expensive tools, such as accounting document management systems — but these tools come with their own problems, including integration issues and data silos.

By implementing Intapp Documents – part of the Intapp Collaboration & Content suite – instead of investing in multiple systems, your firm can turn Microsoft Teams into an accounting- and engagement-centric platform for collaboration and document management. Intapp Documents acts as a layer on top of your existing Microsoft 365 investment and lets you view a wide array of data and documents from a unified dashboard, or “single pane of glass.”

By combining the power of Microsoft 365 and Intapp Collaboration & Content, you can ensure a smooth transition before, during, and after your merger or acquisition. Provide your teams with the tools they need to connect with one another, access crucial information, and better serve their clients.

Schedule a demo to learn more about how Intapp Collaboration & Content can support collaboration and document management for accounting firms.