Two into one

What happens when one company acquires another? How do you merge departments, working practices, content? That’s the challenge that lies ahead for me as my company was recently acquired by Kana Software.

We are still in the midst of integration planning, figuring out how to take the best parts of both product sets forward, and I’ve started to look over the documentation created by our counterparts across the water. It’s immediately obvious that we will need to make some compromises. Firstly in tooling, we use Author-it they use FrameMaker, and then in style (both writing and content delivery).

We’ve been moving to a more article type deliverable, focussing on explaining the reasoning and thinking behind a product feature and only providing How To style information when needed. From what I’ve seen our counterparts, whilst they have a good mixture of information, they have a lot more in the way of How To style information.

We had already kicked off, shortly before the acquisition was announced, started an entire overhaul of the structure of our product documentation. The early results are looking good and should make the entire product information set much easier to use, and it’s been timely as it will allow us to be confident that the information we are taking forward is the best we have, is logically structured, well researched and written.

First things first though, and I’m setting up some calls to talk to them, to understand how they work day to day, why they made the decisions they’ve made and to explain the same from our side of things. Somewhere in the middle lies the future, the path forward to a combined set of product information.

It won’t be easy, we both come to these discussions with a large amount of information, but I know we are all up for the challenge!

Written By

Long time blogger, Father of Jack, geek of many things, random photographer and writer of nonsense.

Doing my best to find a balance.

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You said something important in your last paragraph: “We both come to these discussions with a large amount of information.” I hope that you’ll spread that information to everyone on both writing teams, so that when the inevitable changes come they’ll understand the rationale for making those changes.

Once I was a rank-and-file writer at a company that was acquired. We were told to abandon the tools and processes that had worked well for us, in favor of a whole new way of doing things. But we were never told about the business advantages, so the transition was much more difficult and painful than it needed to be.

Good luck with your transition, and I hope you’ll blog about your experiences along the way.

Hi Larry,

I was actually talking about the volume of product information both teams already have and the challenge in figuring out how to pull it together.

But you make an excellent point, I’ve been in the flipside as well, so I’m very keen to keep an open and honest dialogue going, and certainly there is no thought of decisions being made in isolation anywhere, well, not on my part!

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