Mitigating the Impact of a Merger

When two companies integrate, it can wreak havoc on electronic security infrastructure

Mergers are constantly in the news today. Many companies have large amounts of cash reserves available and ready to use, and they are looking to increase market share. A good way to use those reserves is to purchase other companies, thus mitigating competition or enhancing a product offering by acquisitions of supportive products or services. As the economy improves, the integrated organization is in an excellent position to gain market share by providing a better offering and/or reducing prices.

Mergers can be beneficial in many ways, to both the companies involves and to the end-user. Since they are very commonplace and will continue to be part of the business environment for the foreseeable future, it is important to look at the impact mergers have on security departments - specifically on the electronic security systems.

Merging companies provides serious challenges for the security departments. The merger impacts security personnel, morale, established philosophies, operating procedures, egos and even the existing electronic security systems. The lack of functional goals and minimum standards will allow electronic security systems and personnel to be excessive in some facilities, while being inadequate in other facilities.

Typically, the acquiring company will, to a large extent, drive the direction of the electronic security system philosophy, configuration, scope and manpower.

Combining Electronic Security Philosophies

The acquiring company should not force-feed compliance. The combining of electronic security philosophies, configuration and scope will usually be more of a political process than an engineering process. Psychological issues must be overcome, and solving these issues will lead to an amiable approach to reach the best solution.

Any existing electronic security system should be effective and provide a benefit to the company or facility - these systems have generally evolved over the years to perform a reasonable function. Whether a systematic, efficiently functioning system or an evolved system that is performing at an acceptable level, they are the systems that the Security departments support, because the systems are already known and understood. This psychological favoritism for an electronic security system is the first issue that must be overcome when systems merge. This favoritism of philosophy, operations and electronic equipment is due to the "ownership" mentality within both of the companies in the merger. It may be difficult to objectively evaluate the existing electronic systems, operations and philosophies to develop a "best solution" - not to mention overcoming the expected animosities of the employees in the company being acquired.

The best solution process requires a unified agreement and a focused list of security functional goals for the merged enterprise. Both security philosophy and electronic security issues must be considered to develop functional goals.

Creating a Common Badge

Access control is often one of the first areas of concern. A functional goal might include ensuring that every employee has a common badge that enables access to common areas in all facilities throughout the merged company. The acquiring company may choose to keep its original access control system and access control badges, causing the acquired company or companies to adopt the electronic access control system and badge. More commonly, the merged company chooses to migrate to an entirely new access control system and badge.

Employees and executives who travel between facilities will find it obvious when there is no universal badge. Without one, the travel between facilities might require a handful of electronic access control badges to allow access to the various facilities. Electronic access would have to be handled with many badges containing the various technologies and protocols. The only other approach is to provide pre-approving an employee visit to a facility, which also detracts from a one-company culture.

This content continues onto the next page...