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Should the CIO and the IT department be involved in pre-acquisition preparations?

It's really dependent on the type of business that you're in. If you're a technology company, for instance, the CIO might have a role to play in making sure that the technology is better understood in negotiations from a buyer perspective, especially if it's a relatively young company and there aren't thousands of customers already buying that product or service. But for the most part, it's unlikely that anything I could have done as a CIO would sway someone to not buy us unless I had a terrible security posture. That’s one area where there could be a significant risk. For example, if you had to maintain certifications for the kind of business that you're in, those are hidden dangers that a buyer might be worried about. Beyond that, acquiring companies are not asking, "Was your building nice enough? Do you run a good active directory shop? Is the wiring nice in your data center?" It's rare that those things will be the real deciding factor in whether someone buys your company. The exception would be if they're buying you for more people and they could easily find more people who don't come with a lot of baggage somewhere else.

Anonymous Author
It's really dependent on the type of business that you're in. If you're a technology company, for instance, the CIO might have a role to play in making sure that the technology is better understood in negotiations from a buyer perspective, especially if it's a relatively young company and there aren't thousands of customers already buying that product or service. But for the most part, it's unlikely that anything I could have done as a CIO would sway someone to not buy us unless I had a terrible security posture. That’s one area where there could be a significant risk. For example, if you had to maintain certifications for the kind of business that you're in, those are hidden dangers that a buyer might be worried about. Beyond that, acquiring companies are not asking, "Was your building nice enough? Do you run a good active directory shop? Is the wiring nice in your data center?" It's rare that those things will be the real deciding factor in whether someone buys your company. The exception would be if they're buying you for more people and they could easily find more people who don't come with a lot of baggage somewhere else.
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Anonymous Author
On the sell side, you can do activities to help your financial position look more favorable. For example, you could let your subscriptions lapse, which looks good in the financials. It doesn't kill your business in the short term, but there's going to be a problem near term. There's a whole list of things you can be involved in as a CIO to help advance or change your financial optics. But you have to be careful about being too focused on the short term or long term. That's part of the due diligence you have to go through. You have to look out for some of these things, especially if technology is critical to the deal. And assume some of it too, because it does happen — people don't maintain their car, they don't maintain their equipment, or they cut their staff. That’s one thing I've seen a lot: they let their staff go a year in advance of when they want to sell the company so that it's off the books, but they do it on a decline so it shows that they've been working to get their operational costs in line. While that looks good on the financial books, you've essentially cut your staff to the bare minimum in order to get there, which is not sustainable. So you have to think about the role you want to play in this process and the role that you're being asked to play. More often than not, you'll be asked to do certain things and will have to figure out how to accommodate it. And it won't be a technology question. It will be something like, "I want you to cut your budget by 30%, so figure out how to do that."
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