During my long career I have led a number of multi-national digital media content business integrations which are over at the most complex end of the operational spectrum – transforming and moving millions of digital assets from one business to another, contracting thousands of content creators, moving, cataloguing and consolidating physical archives in several countries, transitioning workflows, resources and hundreds of staff from one business to the other, and saving millions of dollars in operating costs.
As the Programme Manager for a complex integration, you are one of the key pivot points for a project that is multi-threaded, multi-disciplined, has many interdependencies within and external to both businesses - many components and moving parts – and complex timing, sequencing and deadlines.
Lots of opportunity for things to go wrong.
Migrate 20 million digital assets, including normalizing all metadata, keywords, and file formats to the new system requirements
Contract 4 thousand photographers and filmmakers in several languages to the new business entity using automation and a comprehensive communication plan
Move and consolidate two historical photographic archives to safe storage with ready access
Seamlessly transition all content creation workflows to the new business and draw-down or integrate staff and systems in sync
Six months from acquisition to full integration
Reduce ongoing operating costs by 80%
One of the most important things to learn about business integrations is that it’s never just as simple as “move this data over here” and “close that office” because systems and data architecture are never the same, local laws and regulations dictating how staff, contracts and financial information, for example, can transition are unique. All that has to be figured out up front, as much as possible, and the rest is done on the fly.
This project in particular was to fully integrate and draw-down a global company which had previously been a competitor. To make it more complex, we were working on behalf of a third party who had acquired the company and appointed our company as their sole content distributor and responsible to deliver the integration. I played a central leadership role planning, driving, coordinating and delivering every aspect of the integration for all the digital content creation and content management aspects of the core business.
How did it go?
We delivered on time, on task, and on budget.
Of course we did. We were a great integration team made up of domain experts with strong project management and leadership skills representing each business function. Each of us on the team had been working together for years, getting more and more expert with each new integration project leveraging the strong networks and robust process steps we had built. We all did our part to plan ahead in a tightly coordinated way and triaged issues together so that we were on top of the overall plan and the detail at all times; all the while keeping our Executive Committee and key stakeholders in the loop with progress and key decisions.