5 key tips for a successful business transfer

Fri 28 Oct 2022

Business transfer is a sensitive project that requires a methodical step-by-step approach. Indeed, in addition to the technical components, it involves human and social factors that are often sensitive.

Transformation projects often involve decisions regarding the reorganization of a company's services to gain operational efficiency. Outsourcing part of the business, merging departments or internalizing outsourced activities are just a few examples. Whatever the format, this decision systematically implies an important phase which is the business transfer. When a company wants (for technical or economic reasons) to reinternalize all or part of its IT operations, we speak of a reversibility plan. The seller must allow the buyer to take over the business by transmitting the information and the know-how he has.

Business transfer is a sensitive project that requires a methodical step-by-step approach. Indeed, in addition to the technical components, it involves human and social factors that are often sensitive. It is never easy to mobilize the "outgoing" resources to ensure that they will conduct an effective transfer. Yet this is a key success factor. Here are 5 key elements to consider for a successful business transfer.

1 - Start with an audit phase to anticipate the often short deadlines

Deadlines are often tight. To limit the risks as much as possible, it is necessary to prepare beforehand. Make an inventory of the hardware and/or software; list the existing and non-existent procedures necessary for the smooth running of the operation; check the legal and contractual aspects with the outgoing service provider (in particular with regard to a possible reversibility clause), etc. A good knowledge of the environment, the scope covered by the activity and the resources will ensure that the transfer happens smoothly. Thus it will be possible to recommend the right levers to implement.

2 - Plan and monitor the various stages over time

Steering and scheduling the various stages will facilitate the transfer. This is why it is highly recommended to appoint or call upon a project manager in charge of steering and planning the business transfer. His/her mission is to organize the governance of the project, define the steps, identify the elements necessary for the smooth running of the transfer and also to give regular feedback on the progress of the project as well as on the potential risks.

It is also important to anticipate the human, hardware and software resources needed and to organize their integration during the transfer. How big will the team be? What will be the roles and missions of the target team members? How to organize office space and work positions?  What equipment will be re-used or acquired? ... These are all parameters to be defined and planned.

3 - Rely On a Knowledge Transfer Method

Know-how is often little or poorly formalized, especially when it comes from experience acquired over time. Thus, it is difficult to transfer this knowledge... An effective method for transferring skills must be based on learning by doing and a collaborative working method between the providers and the recipients of the know-how.

Step 1: Training

The recruitment of the new team can be done on the fly, it will be necessary to create and share a training kit to greet the newcomers. It will provide them with information about the company, the department and the main missions that will be assigned to each profile. A section on key business and technical skills must be shared.

Step 2: From Pairing To Empowerment

"I learn by watching." (Shadowing) This phase allows new team members to be able to learn by watching how the current employee performs a particular task in order to facilitate its adoption.

"I learn by doing.” (Reverse Shadowing) In contrast to the previous phase, it is the newcomer who performs the various tasks under the watchful eye of his or her teammate. This makes it possible to check that the different procedures are well understood and to correct them if necessary.

"I do autonomously under control.” During this final phase, the new team in place is in charge of most of the activity under the control of the transferring team, which is now stepping back. This is the last step that formalizes the end of the skills transfer and enables the end of the business transfer to be considered.

Step 3: Starting the business in Nominal Service

To facilitate the transition, it is necessary to limit the risks on the RUN of the operation by freezing as much as possible the changes during this period. For example, avoid planning production releases of major versions or launching update actions on the servers.

The new team in place is able to fully operate the business as a whole only if all indicators are positive and the risks identified previously are eliminated or controlled. It will then be possible to pronounce the end of the transfer. The activity is then resumed in nominal mode. 

4 - Capitalize and Build a Library of Data to Anticipate Hazards

The departure of a team member, the need for recruitment to increase the team's production capacity... it is best to be prepared.

Capitalize on the training, procedures and other documentation put in place during the business transfer. All this information should be stored to form a knowledge base around the activity and the know-how of the team. It will be available at any time to all team members. Future changes will be handled more smoothly to ensure business sustainability.

5 - Adopt an Agile Organization Starting with your Business Transfer Project

If this is not already the case, it is recommended to implement an agile approach to the organization as soon as the business transfer project is launched.

Indeed, agility allows to avoid being fixed in the processes and to be able to adapt quickly to changes and unforeseen events. This approach favors collaboration within teams, an increase in skills and continuous improvement. Faced with changes in the organization or technology, agility allows gaining responsiveness and flexibility.

With these 5 tips, it becomes possible to approach business transfer projects more comfortably and efficiently. SOFRECOM assists in the operational implementation of this type of approach as well as in organizational transformation.

Octave Vitonou

Product owner and reversibility driver