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The post-acquisition integration plan that set MetaCompliance up for future success

A lookalike business acquisition offered MetaCompliance the potential to transform its future. With the contract sealed, it was time to integrate the two firms to get the best of both businesses. As part of the Tenzing portfolio, MetaCompliance’s CEO, James Mackay, had a unique advantage: access to the Tenzing Sherpa Programme. James asked MetaCompliance’s Sherpa, Clare Goodrham, to lead the integration and deliver the acquisition’s anticipated growth benefits.

The company

MetaCompliance is based in Northern Ireland and employs over 120 people. It provides market-leading security awareness and compliance training through a single platform. Helping businesses manage the people risks around cyber threats, reputational damage and compliance.

The challenge

When MetaCompliance discovered a lookalike Danish cyber security training business, MOCH, it appeared to be the ideal first acquisition, with around 30 employees working in a similar compliance framework to the Irish company. 

With two distinct company cultures and separate systems, products and operations, the challenge was to integrate every aspect of the two businesses while retaining the strengths of both firms.

The objective

Both MOCH and MetaCompliance were leaders in cyber security training. MOCH brought its unique approach to learning, while MetaCompliance boasted robust, metric-driven processes that ensured excellent sales and customer retention. These complementary strengths offered an opportunity to fuse both sets of expertise.

The vision was clear:

  1. Expand the European footprint – seamlessly transition MOCH’s customers into the MetaCompliance ecosystem, broadening the company’s European customer base and reach.
  2. Blend talent and techniques – integrate the Danish team and their skills into MetaCompliance’s operations. This promised to revolutionise content creation and inject dynamic, new perspectives into the learning experience.
  3. Synergise learning content – unite MOCH and MetaCompliance’s innovative learning content to create an unrivalled training suite.

By the end of the integration, MetaCompliance would be in a position to use the enhanced content to attract and retain customers and grow its global market share.

The solution

Clare rapidly became a key part of the MetaCompliance executive team, closely collaborating with the firm’s leaders and cross-functional integration team. Comprised of MetaCompliance’s senior managers, the integration team dug deeper into the acquisition’s due diligence, laying the groundwork for a strategic merger. 

Under Clare’s leadership, the team executed a comprehensive post-integration plan focusing on four pivotal areas:

  1. Merging the finance systems – an early objective, the goal was to create a consolidated data set to enhance post-acquisition decision-making. 
  2. Refining people operations – this involved navigating the intricacies of Danish employment law and integrating MOCH’s people into MetaCompliance’s HR system to enable full visibility of the expanded workforce. While driving collaboration between Irish and Danish colleagues to create a single, joined-up team that would deliver effectively during the post-acquisition phase and beyond.
  3. Aligning sales and customer operations – Clare collaborated with department leaders to merge the Danish products, customers and sales systems with the widerMetaCompliance business.  
  4. Integrating product platforms – the Danish and MetaCompliance customer-facing platforms were merged and MOCH’s customers transitioned, resulting in a single global platform and continuity without disruption for MetaCompliance’s new customers. A single streamlined platform also reduced the need for the additional maintenance running two systems would bring.

Overcoming challenges

As often happens with acquisitions, both businesses had different approaches to people management and speed of change. These styles needed to be aligned while balancing the need to respect differences between the Irish and Danish cultures. 

To bridge these gaps, Clare took an immersive approach, moving to Denmark to get closer to the business. This hands-on experience went beyond observation, allowing Clare to connect with the team so she could refine and recalibrate the integration plan. Ensuring it resonated with and evolved in line with the realities of both parts of the company.

Moving to Denmark was a game changer. When you’re in the office every day, you see how things work, and you feel the rhythm of the business. This helped me get close to the company and influenced the direction of the integration plan.”

Clare Goodrham, Sherpa Alumni

The results

With MOCH’s customers fully onboard, MetaCompliance had expanded its European footprint, adding a further 280 customers to the business. With a 300% increase in the volume and duration of content across 25 topics, MOCH’s new and existing customers gained access to a broader platform with far richer functionality and content than before. 

This unrivalled suite of cyber security training assisted the firm in strengthening its position in the marketplace, retaining its customer base and continuing to grow.

To support this new, larger business and help deliver its vision, MetaCompliance brought in a small number of new hires with specific skill sets who would be a great fit for the business’ culture. 

Crucially, MOCH’s Founders played an instrumental role during the integration project, working with the Irish teams to share their deep insights and intimate understanding of the business. This collaborative approach helped guide the team to a point where the business was able to run on its own.

With the integration plan fully delivered, MetaCompliance had a unified core operating model spanning all the key business functions. In this new framework, everyone on the re-shaped team had clear roles, responsibilities and performance expectations aligned to deliver MetaCompliance’s strategic goals. 

Following the completion of the first phase of the integration, MetaCompliance shifted its focus to embed these transformations. Before transitioning to business as usual so it could realise the full value of its new asset.

I developed a strong relationship with MetaCompliance’s executive team, who gave me the authority to do what was needed to deliver the plan. That meant I could make decisions with the leadership team, which helped us move forward quickly. ”

Clare Goodrham, Sherpa Alumni

Business benefits

The integration has delivered a number of key benefits for MetaCompliance:

  1. Unified systems – aligned data and processes mean the MetaCompliance leadership team has a complete and accurate picture of the entire business.
  2. One team – restructuring the business’ teams gave MetaCompliance the right people and skills with the right responsibilities to take the business forward. 
  3. Set up to scale – the completed integration enabled MetaCompliance to enter a business-as-usual phase and capitalise on its new products and customers.  

Clare slotted in effortlessly with the executive team. She interpreted the needs of the Danish and Irish parts of the business and provided a safe pair of hands that helped us deliver this project at pace and realise the benefits of our European presence.”

James Mackay, CEO of MetaCompliance

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Picture of Charlie Taylor

Charlie Taylor

Charlie's spent the last decade in some of the world’s leading tech businesses running Marketing & PR. She shows entrepreneurs what it would be like if they partnered with Tenzing. Her true passion lies in community building, so she's in her element connecting marketing professionals across the portfolio. Talk to Charlie about sales and marketing alignment, demand generation, event strategy and team design.
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