Mergers and acquisitions are a common occurrence in business. For executives, shareholders, and the companies themselves, an acquisition or merger means expanded potential, new synergy and opportunities for growth. For the back office, however, it means work. The integration of vendor master files is a crucial example.
Effort Now Saves Pain Later
In a merger or acquisition, there may be cases where ERP systems and their master files remain separate, at least for a time. However, most often, you must integrate the vendor masters. To start, get information about the acquired company’s vendor master and associated documents and information as soon as possible. There are staff changes ahead. Time will be short once the papers are final, and changes will happen quickly. Get help while it is still available.
In an ideal world, all vendor master files would have the same structure and format, and a newly acquired company’s vendor master would easily merge into the parent’s existing master file. But the chances of that happening are nil!
Also, too often, vendor master files are merely hurriedly and haphazardly merged. But taking pains at the start will save tremendous pain later (see The Cost of Errors in Vendor Information).
As for the master file, along with structure and format differences, naming conventions will be unique. And in the data sets, there is a good chance of overlap of at least some vendors, so deduplication must be part of the process. Add to that the respective status of data currency and cleanliness in both masters, and you begin to grasp the challenge.
The acquiring or “new” company must determine the data structure, fields and formats of both master files and create a template of the host master file. Then export the vendor data from the acquired master file into the formatted template that matches the required fields and formats of the host master file. Identify differences and set a protocol for consistent data adjustments as necessary. The aim is to successfully map the existing data from its former master file into its new host master file in preparation for loading.
Validate & Complete
Remember, errors are costly. So, the best practice is to put all the vendor records through validation and compliance procedures. Also, request all existing documentation for the vendors from the acquired company.
Put the vendor records through sanction and exclusion list checks. Run names and TINs through the IRS TIN Match process. And verify banking details (there are account ownership authentication services that can do this for you). If possible, run a check against the acquired company’s employee file for matches. Also, for incomplete records, gather missing vendor data.
Procurement should review the vendor list with an eye toward beneficial consolidation and elimination. The company can incent vendors to offer better prices and terms to reap some early benefits of the merger or acquisition.
Then add the vendor data from the acquired organization into the “host” vendor master file. Be sure to include the legacy vendor ID numbers and add a standard notification in “comments” that the source of vendor record is from the merger or acquisition. In addition, include information pointing to the source and links to vendor documents.
If not already done in the prior stage, locate and deactivate (to retain history) or eliminate duplicate vendors. Tax IDs, names, addresses and phone numbers are helpful parameters to search for duplicates.Finally, create a VMF reference guide (eliminating or masking sensitive information) for master file users that provides old and new vendor IDs and requisite details. Such a map enables old and new staff to find the acquired (legacy) file records in the active file.