When it comes to due diligence, information technology usually takes a backseat to things such as financial or legal issues. That doesn’t mean it’s any less important.
“You want to make sure technology is up to speed, if it isn’t it can certainly lead to problems,” says Chris Russell, a managing director at Veronis Suhler Stevenson.
There are a number of questions dealmakers have to ask: Is IT adequately funded? Does the capacity fit the business needs? Are licenses sufficiently maintained? The list can go on.
IT may not necessarily make or break a deal, but it can provide an angle for PE firms looking to win an auction, or at the same time identify where capital needs to be deployed post close. Of course, it can also break a deal as well.
Kevin McCarty, a co-founder of IT diligence firm West Monroe Partners, points to one instance when it did. “This company had 87 servers and 400 desktop computers and no one that possessed the knowledge to use the systems,” he says. The company had been a rollup of seven separate businesses and the IT had never been integrated. On top of that, the headcount was reduced to the point that nobody was left who knew how to operate the IT. “We advised against this deal,” he says.