Congrats on Your Merger – Now Go Change All Your Documents!

Mergers and acquisitions are based on the expectations of stronger market position, growth, and cost savings. But after the deals have been inked and signed, then begins the actual logistical work or forging two companies together: sales teams, personnel, offices, and so on.

A component of this logistical exercise is document management. Each merging company has its own forms, labels, statements, logos, and other assorted templates and document elements. These items enable the company to communicate with their stakeholders, audiences, or customers. After a merger, it’s up to the organization to blend the elements to reflect the new needs and identity of the post-merger entity.

One approach that can turn a nightmare project into a manageable task is a master document strategy. A master document strategy relies on a central repository of information and data, along with document templates that are linked to the repository. The templates can be used throughout the organization for various purposes.

The goal of a master document strategy is to minimize the number of templates and streamline maintenance as much as possible. Without master document templates, companies must update hundreds or thousands of documents strewn among the company’s servers and hard drives. Projects like this can take months and may not catch every version of every document that needs updating.

Document management systems such as DocOrigin, powered by Business Communications Center enable a master document strategy. When an event such as a merger or acquisition takes place, the organization can update all their documents with new logos, addresses, websites, signatures, and other elements in a matter of hours.

What to Consider

The first step in executing a master document strategy is determining the project’s scope. Create a list of all the documents your company uses. Omit nothing. Include bills, statements, labels, forms, claims, lead-generation documents, customer outreach, and so on. Make a second list of marketing and branding elements such as logos, color themes, tag lines, images, corporate signatures, and other graphics. These elements are usually present in many documents across the enterprise.

Next, begin comparing, merging, and purging. Decide what data and graphics the new, merged entity needs, and how many templates you must create or update to fit the new corporate direction. Look for instances where you can combine multiple versions of documents, using variables in the data to call in text blocks or other elements according to conditions in the data.

A template is essentially an architecture or layout into which you can place text, logos, addresses, titles, signatures, tag lines, phone numbers, marketing messages, or other variable elements. Avoid hard-coding these elements into templates. Instead, insert a placeholder or tag that links to elements stored in the organization’s central repository. Logos, signatures, and tag lines work well as variable data.

DocOrigin can even insert large blocks of text into a document, from a few paragraphs to hundreds of pages. Items like terms and conditions can be called in conditionally based on rules or values found in the raw data. These text blocks can themselves feature variables that are resolved with customer-specific data as the documents are composed. Using this method allows lengthy pieces of content to be created and quality-checked by business users, eliminating the need to engage IT teams.

Also pay attention to how documents will be output, whether it be print, a website, smart device, a pdf, or other platform. Delivery channels can affect decisions about how to construct master document templates. Documents can be placed in a portal or DocOrigin can send emails with links for self-service or mailed.

Benefits of a Master Document Strategy

Efficiency and Time Savings — Without a master document plan, organizations must update or change all their documents manually. Events such as a brand refresh, mergers, or acquisitions, can trigger a need to change colors, taglines, logos, or website references across the entire enterprise. Manually changing documents one at a time is a cumbersome task that can consume hundreds of hours with no guarantee of 100% successful results.

Consistency and Accuracy — Employees can’t mistakenly include outdated elements in documents when using master document templates since the documents will populate fields with approved text or graphics. Master document templates eliminate errors resulting from employees mistakenly copying obsolete material and pasting it into a new document.

Software for creating and composing document templates have become quite sophisticated in recent years. Even though merging two corporate enterprises together is daunting, with intelligent preparation, organizations can handle merger-prompted document updates quickly and efficiently. Master document templates may reduce design time by up to 60% and reduce long term maintenance by even more.