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April 2, 2024

5 Steps to an Easy Email Migration during a Merger or Acquisition

When going through a merger or acquisition, deciding which email domain and address employees will use or move to may not be top of the list of concerns. Email address migration decisions are an often-overlooked part of due diligence during a merger or acquisition, but it’s something that needs to be addressed and can save headaches down the road.

To ensure a clean email migration process, with the minimum amount of disruption to your business, you’ll need to decide on a method of migration, keep end users educated about their role in the process, remove redundant, obsolete or trivial (ROT) data and maintain email security. While this might seem difficult to manage in-house, hiring a third-party managed email migration service can simplify this all-important undertaking.

Key Takeaways:

  • Decide early whether to integrate the acquired company’s email system into the acquiring company’s current system or to merge both email systems into a new platform
  • Ensure lines of communication remain secure during the email migration process to keep sensitive information from falling into the wrong hands
  • Communication is vital so employees remain informed about the migration process and what role they are expected to play
  • Remove ROT data from email systems to speed up the migration process
  • Allot enough time for the migration process to be completed and plan in extra time in case of errors or other unforeseen complications

Email Migrations during M&A

Step 1: Avoid Delays with Early Planning

Once a merger or acquisition has begun, one of the very first steps should include planning for an eventual email migration. Email is the preferred communication platform for businesses and is especially essential during M&A activities. Important documents can be shared instantly with multiple people and email threads can help plot the course of the upcoming M&A.

The first decision leadership must make is the type of migration they’d prefer. Will you migrate both companies’ email systems into a third email platform, or would you prefer to migrate one company’s email system into the other company’s current platform? Assess the needs the newly combined business will have and use that to determine your best path forward.  

Step 2: Ensure a Faster Email Migration by Cleansing ROT Data

Once the destination for the email migration has been selected, the next course of action should be cleaning up the amount of data that will be moved from one platform to another. It may be difficult to convince some employees to delete old emails from their accounts, but culling unnecessary data from the migration process before it begins will help the process move much faster. The more data in a migration, the longer it will take to import it to a new system.

According to Microsoft’s migrations best practices guide, “One 4-GB mailbox with 400 items, each with 10 megabytes (MB) of attachments, will migrate faster than one 4-GB mailbox with 100,000 smaller items.” Encourage users to empty their deleted items and junk mail folders. They should also review attachments and delete items that they have saved somewhere else.

This would also be an excellent time to remove redundant, obsolete or trivial data (ROT) from your system. Review the accounts associated with the email platform and verify that all users are active. Take stock of any shared or system mailboxes that haven’t been used in over six months but be careful that those mailboxes aren’t vitally important but seldom used. Communicate with your team to ensure important data isn’t deleted unnecessarily.

Step 3: Keep Sensitive Data Secure

A great deal of data will be moving during the migration process and due to the nature of M&A activity, this data will likely contain extremely sensitive information. If confidential data contained in emails or attachments haven’t been properly secured or encrypted, that data can become vulnerable. This is especially true during M&A activity, when email threads contain attachments with sensitive financial, personnel and other information are shared among multiple people.

Differences in security protocols between either party can also increase data breach risk, particularly if one party doesn’t use basic security protocols such as zero trust principles or multifactor authentication protocols. An increase in email activity can also make users more vulnerable to inbound email attacks such as phishing, impersonation and account takeover. Even if your organization already provides guidance around proper email security protocols, take this opportunity to remind users of the importance of following those protocols.

Step 4: Educate Employees on their Role in Email Migration Process

Keep users informed about the status of the email migration to minimize business disruptions to them and your clients. Give employees advanced notice of migration dates and tell them a longer timeline than you anticipate. Delays of one kind or another are bound to happen at some point in the process, overestimating the timeline will help accommodate those unavoidable pauses. If a new login or password is required, make sure to inform employees well in advance of when they’ll need it. Consider drafting an FAQ to organize the information your staff will need to know and to answer questions that may come up about the migration.

Step 5: Test, Test and Test Again

No one enjoys delays, especially ones that keep you locked out of your important accounts and disrupt your communication lines. Unfortunately, delays are inevitable during email migrations. As the process draws to an end, stay vigilant and begin testing to ensure key processes are still in working order. Look into your customizations and key assets, are they accounted for?

Testing may also help your organization identify the sources of delays and avoid time-outs or throttling issues that can stall the process. In a worst-case scenario, these issues may force the migration process to be re-run, taking even more time away from regular business. Assess how your system works on the new email platform and take notes so end users can be educated on best practices.

The goal should be to have a working email system and a prepared workforce for Day One post-close. Advanced preparation for everyone in the organization, no matter their role or rank, is imperative to meet this goal.

Anders Technology advisors work closely with businesses to ensure a seamless migration with limited downtime or interruptions to business processes. Learn more about how we help organizations like yours successfully and quickly complete email migrations, and the associated fees, by requesting a meeting with an Anders Technology advisor below.

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