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What we learnt from doing our own M&A deal using thedocyard
Neale Java, Chief Financial Officer, thedocyard
In July thedocyard joined many other organisations who have found opportunity amid the pandemic by acquiring Lockbox technologies.
The acquisition expands our cloud-based, end-to-end deal management platform by adding a B2B secured document and storage platform, and Athena Board: software that enables simpler, more secure board meeting preparation and execution.
I wanted to share some thoughts on how using our own tool during the deal helped our small team at thedocyard move forward at pace to build trust and execute a successful acquisition.
1. Boosting our own internal M&A capabilities
I’ve been involved with M&A activities in other roles before, but this was the first time I’d used thedocyard to do a deal. As a small company acquiring another company, I saw first-hand how using thedocyard gives you the capabilities to get the job done while remaining lean.
In the past, I’ve tried various technologies to improve the process. Data is in the virtual data room, various generic project management tools like Asana or Trello are used to organise the workflow, and email is the default communication method.
thedocyard allowed us to bring all activity into one place throughout the deal. It was far easier to keep the deal flowing, while staying in control, and seeing where things were up to, with all communication, sensitive data, checklists and task management taking place in the platform.
My takeaway: Tech can boost your ability to make the most of opportunities
This capability is particularly relevant right now. As the pandemic continues to play out, we’re expecting a sea change in the market landscape. Deal volume could reasonably be expected to rise by around two to three times the normal as the number of potential targets increases as companies come under stress.
An effective M&A capability will be critical to managing an increasing volume of opportunities. This shouldn’t have to mean bulking up your own M&A team. By using thedocyard you can enhance your own ability to manage major transactions and large volumes of opportunities.
You can invite additional parties and partners, giving them one place to collaborate, with finely grained permissions over what each person can see and edit. It becomes far easier to get work done efficiently and accurately with a lean team.
2. A trust building tool
In a typical deal, face-to-face and back channel conversations in which each side furiously tries to influence and read the other, watching the subtle cues and body language, is all part of the fun – and the challenge.
In the deal to acquire Lockbox, we hardly met face to face. We managed the entire thing over thedocyard. While this eliminated a lot of the traditional drama of a deal, the truth is it increased the sense of certainty compared to other transactions I’ve been involved with.
In a typical deal, you’re always wondering what you might discover you’ve missed after the fact. With so many channels of conversation – verbal, email, WhatsApp and so on – things can get lost, or fail to be archived.
In this deal everything was automatically recorded in thedocyard from the start of the deal to the close. Nothing was ever lost in emails or conversations. The information flow was certain for all parties involved and meant we were able to significantly reduce the execution risk.
My takeaway: Personal relationships aren’t going away but tech has an important part to play
While relationships have and will always be important in deal making, the only thing that really matters at the end of the day is if the recorded word matches the verbal agreement. That is the ultimate point of truth and indicator about the health of the engagement.
Again, this type of certainty, obtained from afar, is valuable in and of itself, but especially now. With most teams operating remotely, far from each other and their clients and bidders, finding new ways to gain trust in becomes even more important.
Rather than many meetings to align priorities and close the transaction, everything needs to be managed and agreed digitally. Thedocyard helped us achieve this with Lockbox.
Another thing that took me by surprise in our deal with Lockbox was just how fast it was. Not meeting face-to-face reduced the amount of non-material conversations.
We were into the details quicker, with clearer and more pointed communication around specific documents and data points. thedocyard's checklists meant tasks were getting ticked off for all to see and real-time status updates meant everyone could tell that the deal was getting done.
Our working relationship was streamlined. There was a sense on both sides that things were flowing. This reduced stress as it became clear it would be successful, and faster.
3. Reducing integration headaches
Getting the deal done is just the beginning. Then the integration begins. thedocyard allows you to create an integration checklist at the start and consistently apply it to all your deals, collecting along the way what you need come integration time. You can reuse your checklist with each deal, making sure you’re checking all the same boxes, time and again.
My takeaway: Having an end-to-end tool that supports the deal flow beyond the data room is a gamechanger
DealTech 1.0 – the virtual data room – only helps with a tiny part of the deal lifecycle. With so many tasks to tick off and so much at stake, having a tool that helps you stay on track and move forward with pace and certainty in each stage from preparation to integration is a gamechanger.
When our Chief Executive Officer and Founder, a former M&A lawyer, Stuart Clout, created thedocyard, he did it because he realised there had to be a better way to manage complex transactions. He created an end-to-end deal management solution designed for deal makers, by a deal maker.
Today, it’s clear that this type of digital collaboration tool is needed more than ever as we shift to remote work and deal making. Doing the deal with Lockbox showed me first-hand just what a difference it makes.
Built by deal-makers for deal-makers, thedocyard provides workflow, compliance and productivity in one platform. Learn more about our end to end deal management platform or book an online demo with our customer success team.