M&A transactions are complicated and meticulous, and M&A teams are often juggling more than one transaction at a time. It is critical for teams to reflect on their internal as well as external workflows, and aim to streamline their processes. Luckily, there are a multitude of M&A tools and software platforms available to do just that.
The better your process, the better your output.
What are M&A Tools and Software?
M&A tools and software are platforms used by professionals during an M&A transaction. This can include platforms that perform a variety of functions such as data storage, project management, deal tracking, and organization. Some M&A teams use a different tool for various functionalities throughout a deal’s lifecycle, while others use one software platform for everything.
Different Types of M&A Tools and Software
In today’s tech world, M&A teams have the opportunity to use different types of tools and software platforms to aid them during complicated transactions. Even though many of these tools only came into existence during the last decade, they are changing the way deals are organized and managed.
Here are a few M&A tools available to present day M&A professionals.
1. Virtual Data Rooms
One of the most well known M&A tools is virtual data rooms, also known as VDRs. VDRs have been around for almost two decades, and there are hundreds of VDR providers available. They are best known for their ability to securely store confidential information that is collected and shared during the due diligence process.
For example, with a virtual data room, investment banks can share critical information between buyers, sellers, and other third parties, while staying in control of who can see what. Most VDRs adhere to strict security standards set by FINRA and the SEC, so all information stored in a VDR is 100% secure.
Typically, traditional VDRs are only used during due diligence and in correlation with Excel trackers.
Popular VDR providers are DealRoom, FirmRoom, Merrill Data Site One, Intralinks, Ansarada, Devensoft, Box, Securedocs, Firmex.
Another common M&A tool is Excel. Excel trackers are used by M&A professionals to “track” the status of due diligence requests. Excel trackers often have standard due diligence column categories such as title, description, category, priority, status, labels, start date, and due date.
Every time something has been changed or updated on an Excel tracker, the master list must be updated and shared with everyone. Excel trackers are used alongside VDRs during due diligence. For example, once a document has been uploaded into a VDR, that line item request will then be updated and marked as complete in the Excel tracker. Using a VDR and Excel trackers is a more traditional approach to due diligence.
3. Project Management Tools
Project management has been around for quite some time, but has only recently been adopted by the M&A industry. Project management in M&A is not geared towards one specific aspect of a deal, but towards a team’s overall workflows and processes. M&A software helps teams identify and create consistent and repeatable workflows, that aim to be as efficient as possible.
For example, investment banks have new interns consistently start at designated times throughout the year. Some investment banks use project management software to manage the interns’ tasks and assignments.
Popular Project Management Providers: DealRoom, Smartsheet, Devensoft.
4. Pipeline Management Software
Pipeline management software is a newer option, and is aimed more towards corporate development M&A professionals. (Also known as corporate development software). Corporate development teams are usually managing different M&A deals at a time, and are always looking for new opportunities.
The idea behind pipeline management software is to help corporate development teams better manage and organize all their ongoing and potential deals. Inside pipeline management software, deals are often grouped together by what stage they are in, such as due diligence or integration.
Every deal comes with a “deal card” that highlights important key information about that deal. This not only allows corporate development teams to manage all their deals in one place, but also helps them quickly compare and track deals.
Popular Pipeline Management Providers: DealRoom, Midaxo, Eknow.
5. Diligence Management
Diligence management is another newer M&A tool and software. Using diligence management to organize the due diligence process is a much more modern methodology compared to VDRs and Excel trackers. However, when used correctly, diligence management software can speed up the due diligence process by up to 40%.
Diligence management software eliminates the need to pass an Excel tracker back and forth. It has all the same features as a VDR, but also includes a way to manage and complete diligence requests within the platform. This allows for documents to not only be shared and stored within the platform, but allows files to be attached to specific diligence requests, roles to be assigned, due dates set, etc.
Common Diligence Management Providers: Centrl, DealRoom
6. Post-Merger Integration Management Tools
Another M&A tool used by professionals is post-close integration management software. The main idea behind post-merger management software is for post-close integration planning to completed alongside due diligence, instead of after the deal closes.
This type of tool is usually is combination with a diligence management platform, and essentially makes sure that the deal information stays available after the deal is closed to be used for future planning. During diligence, teams can label items as “post-merger” and make them visible to the appropriate team members.
In additional to software created specifically for M&A, there are other tools used everyday by M&A professionals. Many teams rely on Slack, Skype, and email for communication purposes. Skype is a telecommunications application that specializes in video chat and voice calls between different types of devices. Users can share messages that include text, video, or audio and the platform has been around for almost two decades.
Slack is similar to Skype, but was released ten years later. It is a cloud-based instant messaging platform. Users can also send messages that includes different file types and make international calls and video chats. Slack offers users the ability to chat via channels, so each different project can have its’ own channel for collaboration.
Another huge bonus of Slack is the number of integrations available such as Salesforce, Dropbox, Twitter, and Zoom. Even some M&A tools, like DealRoom, integrate with Slack as well.
8. M&A Platform
M&A platforms are designed to be a one-stop-shop for M&A teams. An M&A platform combines the features of all the above tools, which in turn creates a software designed to be used for an entire deal lifecycle.
DealRoom is currently the only M&A tool and software that has features specifically designed for every stage of an M&A transaction. DealRoom users can do everything from diligence management, to internal project management, to post-merger planning within the platform.
While every different type of M&A tools provides different benefits, an M&A platform such as DealRoom is the most advantageous.
DealRoom prevents teams from having to switch back and forth between multiple platforms just to manage one deal. DealRoom also allows teams to manage, organize, and compare multiple deals in one centralized location. Users only need to learn how to use one platform, instead of a different VDR for every deal. And one of the biggest benefits of using an M&A platform, such as DealRoom, is the pricing. DealRoom offers a flat rate monthly fee that often includes unlimited users, projects, and data. Compare this to a VDR that charges per page. An invoice for a VDR can easily be over $50,000, where as a tool such as DealRoom can come in under $10,000 for a whole year.
There are plenty of M&A tools and software available for M&A teams to choose from, the right tool just depends on your team’s specific needs. If your clients are old school and more comfortable with a traditional process, a VDR and Excel trackers might be a better fit. If you tend to work with more forward thinking and tech savvy clients, perhaps it is time to try out a more inclusive solution such as DealRoom.
The best part about fintech’s emergence and growth in general, is that there are M&A tools and software platforms that can enhance and streamline your process.