June 28, 2019

3 Ways to Speed Up EBITDA Growth in Post-Acquisition Organizations

By Michael Johnson

In most private equity acquisitions, closing the deal is relatively straightforward. The hard part comes when combining two (or more) entities and attempting to leverage the synergies as planned in the investment strategy. Things are rarely as simple as they might seem.

The first article in this series discussed how private equity firms can lay the groundwork for a successful post-acquisition integration and enterprise resource management (ERP) implementation. The next phase involves careful stewardship of the implementation process to drive EBITDA growth as quickly as possible.

How do you ensure that your ERP implementation delivers the efficiencies and market advantages expected by your investors? Here are three key concepts to focus on as you go through the process, drawn from our experience with private equity clients and hundreds of successful ERP implementations.

  1. AUTOMATE MANUAL PROCESSES

    As organizations scale, manual processes become increasingly burdensome. If you are looking to triple growth over the next three years, maintaining human-intensive processes will soon become untenable. Instead, look to automate manual processes with your chosen ERP. Automating workflows for a variety of processes can greatly reduce the administrative overhead, so you can drop more to the bottom line.

    Keep in mind that internal processes usually evolve organically, and are highly reflective of people and their experiences. Some processes may not make sense to an outside observer. As we mentioned in our previous article, it’s best to start by discovering how a certain process evolved (and why), then clarifying the underlying requirements the process seeks to fulfill. Once you truly understand what is needed, you can utilize the automated workflow capabilities of your ERP to make each process more efficient and effective.

    Bridgepoint recently assisted in a roll-up of five enterprise software companies, each with different processes for procurement, billing, order processing and revenue recognition. Many of those processes were heavily manual. Leveraging the core capabilities of their cloud ERP, we were able to move the organizations to a single set of automated processes across all business units — within about eight months.

  2. INTEGRATE SYSTEMS

    As organizations grow, they tend to acquire point solutions for sales, financial management, warehouse management, e-commerce and other systems as needed. Few of these systems, if any, are integrated with each other in any meaningful way. They are generally glued together by people moving data from system to system, reconciling the data manually.

    Integrating these systems with an ERP is critical to achieve efficiency and drive EBITDA growth. However, integration is also complex and expensive. Initial integration efforts should be focused on high volume, manually intensive operations. For instance, an e-commerce company may want to focus on integrating their website to their financial system, but a distribution company may want to focus on integrating their warehouse management system to the financial system. To make the most of their ERP’s powerful capabilities and maximize efficiency, companies should ultimately work toward complete integration of all high-volume business systems.

    Not long ago, the Bridgepoint team worked with a manufacturing and service company that provides security devices to retail and banking organizations across the country. Prior to our engagement, the company employed highly manual processes for billing, inventory tracking and field service management. Through their ERP implementation, we were able to deliver a fully integrated system that enables real-time inventory visibility without manual intervention — from the time of manufacture through deployment to the field service truck, and ultimately to installation at the customer location. The ERP ensures data integrity throughout the manufacturing process, saves considerable time and duplicate effort, and ultimately provide better data to improve customer service.

  3. STREAMLINE REPORTING

    Organizations often spend a great deal of time shuffling data between systems, spreadsheets and presentation tools to create impressive-looking reports for management. These are manual processes that can be eliminated during ERP implementation, freeing up your administrative team to focus on running the business.

    The closing process is a perfect place to start. Begin by looking at your reporting needs and making sure that the data required to generate those reports is captured by your ERP solution. Next, integrate your ERP with a cloud-based solution (e.g. Tableau or Adaptive Insights are industry leading options) to create dashboards and reports as needed. These cloud solutions give your management team 24/7 access to reports and dashboards using real-time data straight from your internal systems. By integrating these systems, you eliminate the manual effort involved in creating ad hoc reports. You also eliminate the potential for human error. This not only saves time and money — it can also vastly improve decision-making.

    One of our clients is an e-commerce precious metal dealer working in fast-moving commodity markets. With transactions and pricing changes happening 24/7, company management desperately needed accurate real-time reporting. Bridgepoint integrated the company’s phone, e-commerce, customer management and financial management systems to a single ERP solution. Company management now has instantaneous reporting as transactions occur, easily visible on the call center wall through an integrated data visualization tool.

BRINGING IT ALL TOGETHER

Unfortunately, many post-acquisition organizations fail to achieve the objectives of their investment thesis during the ERP implementation process. When we look under the hood, we usually find that these companies did not adequately set the stage for integration or that their implementation efforts were hampered by a lack of focus and direction.

Organizations that align ERP implementation to focus on automating manual processes, integrating disparate systems and streamlining reporting will be far more successful in facilitating revenue growth and driving EBITDA.

HOW BRIDGEPOINT CAN HELP

The Bridgepoint Consulting team is proud to partner with private equity firms to successfully navigate post-acquisition integration, ensure successful ERP implementation, and ultimately drive EBITDA across a growing portfolio. Our experienced consultants are ready to support you with a full suite of private equity advisory services — including finance and technology transformation, operational improvement, and ERP implementation and systems integration. If you have any questions or would like help creating and maximizing value throughout the private equity life cycle, please get in touch. Learn more about our services and areas of expertise here.

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About Michael Johnson

Michael Johnson leads Bridgepoint Consulting’s Technology Consulting practice, which helps organizations leverage technology to drive transformation. The practice specializes in designing and implementing innovative solutions that allow organizations to grow and scale efficiently.  He has 30 years of experience with integrated business solutions, including as managing director at KPMG Consulting, where he oversaw the planning and implementation of HR and finance business solutions for a range of organizations.

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