Daily Archives: July 3, 2015

M&A: Is What’s Good for the Shepherd, Good for the Flock? Part II

In Part I, we noted that the prophet has a different take than the doctor on the recent M&A (merger and acquisition) frenzy that is again gripping the Procurement space and, contrary to the doctor‘s opinion, the prophet believes that, at least in the long term, it brings more clarity than confusion. We then summarized the cons that the doctor sees with the M&A frenzy and the pros that the prophet sees. The points that the prophet made were all valid points and they definitely presented opportunities for the firms in question, but is what’s good for the shepherd good for the flock?

While it’s obvious that any of the advantages brought up by the prophet bring great value to the new organization, do they bring great value to the customer as well? (Let’s face it, while the doctor loves innovative and customer-focussed vendors, he loves innovative and customer-focussed solutions even more.) The Supply Management space will only advance if the organizations doing Supply Management can advance. And to advance, they need the right (transitional) processes, the right technology platforms, and the right talented people to run the function. Does a merger necessarily improve the processes, the platforms, or the people? Let’s take the advantages proffered up by the prophet one by one.

  • Differentiation by way of a broader solution offering
    If you were relying on the vendor for its great sourcing platform, and the merger was between a platform provider and a services provider that allows the new organization to offer a full (outsourced) sourcing solution, how much does this help you if your organization was a leader in sourcing process and capability and doesn’t need any of the new service offerings? Or let’s say a sourcing provider and P2P provider merged but your organization already has a superior P2P platform implemented and integrated with the sourcing platform. Does the merger help you?
  • New Points of Entry
    While it’s great for the newly merged company that they have more opportunities to secure more customers, except for the fact that this may lead to increased financial stability for the provider (which will make your risk management department happy), that doesn’t do anything for you as a customer. The only thing that you care about is whether there are new products, functions, or services that make your operations better.
  • Lower-Cost foot in the door
    With the exception that this lowers the provider’s overhead in the long term and the provider is willing to reinvest this savings in innovation that results in free platform / product upgrades, this doesn’t do anything for you as a customer.
  • Stealth-Transformation
    While this is great from the perspective of an acquiring company that can use the acquiree’s personnel and capabilities to transform itself into a big league competitor under the radar, what does this do for the end customer? Maybe nothing!
  • A Better Executive Team
    If the executive team understands your needs and support requirements better and actively works to improve their service offerings for you, this could be a good thing, but not every new thang will be right for your organization.
  • New Products / Solutions
    If the new products / solutions complement the products / solutions that your organization is using and can be utilized by your organization to increase organization capability and maturity, this will be a good thing, but the new products / solutions might be focussed on a completely different type of customer base and leave you hanging high and dry.

In other words, while all of these benefits are arguably good for the shepherd, there is no guarantee that any of them are good for the existing flock. And even if some of these benefits are good for some of the herd, there’s no guarantee that they will be good for each individual sheep. So, again, the doctor must ask, from a customer perspective, M&A: Confusion or Clarity?