Insights & Info

Insights > Due Diligence Check List – Part I – IT

Due Diligence Check List – Part I – IT

By Generational Equity

due diligence check list

One of the most time consuming and critical steps in the sale of your company will be the due diligence process. If you are prepared in advance, the chances of you closing a deal with an optimal buyer go up dramatically. However, if you are unprepared and have difficulty responding to the various requests presented to you by the buyers, their confidence in you and your company will diminish, which could lead to them walking away.

The official definition of due diligence is:

The assessment of the benefits and the liabilities of a proposed acquisition by inquiring into all relevant aspects of the past, present, and predictable future of the business to be purchased. Due diligence occurs subsequent to the Letter of Intent (LOI).

Since it literally is the step where most deals tend to fall apart, we thought it might be helpful to write a series of articles on the due diligence process, creating a virtual checklist for you to use if you are forced to find a buyer without professional representation.

Based on our experience, one of the areas that buyers are really honing in on now during due diligence is the target’s information technology systems and procedures. Obviously in today’s environment, nearly every business, no matter what the industry, is now closely tied to the IT system they are using. Buyers more than ever want to ensure that post-acquisition, the IT systems are operating optimally and that the procedures are documented and followed.

How You’ll Know If Your IT Due Diligence Will Be Intense

According to a recent article in Mergers & Acquisitions, if any of the following features are true for your company, then you need to be prepared to provide full documentation of your IT systems during due diligence:

  • Your company has a sophisticated web presence, especially if your web site is associated closely with your brand
  • If you have developed any customized software that is critical to the effective operation of one or more segments of your business
  • Your business has grown via the acquisition of other businesses and you now have multiple “legacy” systems operating independently throughout your company
  • If the financial and managerial reports you generate are considered to be antiquated and not as robust as newer software that is available
  • Your divisions have highly complex inter-company transactions that require consolidation or de-consolidation of financial reports
  • If your company has multiple software systems that are required to interface with each other (sales to production to billing to receivables)
  • Your buyers are interested in the business simply because of the technology you are using (i.e., your intellectual property)
  • If you have recently reduced your IT budget in order to show more profitability (Buyers are very leery of reductions in IT spending just before an acquisition)
  • Your IT system is antiquated and not updated or you are using software that has been replaced
  • If your IT procedures are not well documented, for example, making it clear who is responsible for ensuring that you are using the latest software updates or the steps involved in the daily, weekly and monthly system backups

Again, if any of these scenarios are true of your company, you need to be proactive and take steps today to adequately prepare your IT system and staff for scrutiny.

At a minimum we have found it vital that your accounting system be able to produce a full range of financial statements quickly and accurately. Due diligence teams will typically spend significant time at your facility, asking for numerous pieces of financial information as they analyze your business. You need to be able to provide them with this data when requested. Delays or error-filled reports will not help them have confidence in acquiring your company.

In addition, we have found that it is vital to have systems and procedures fully documented BEFORE the due diligence IT team arrives. All too often we find ourselves working with business owners that have no idea if their IT staff has documented anything, much less the crucial things like system backups and software security.

Although there are many steps we will be discussing in this series on due diligence, from what we are hearing from buyers, IT is now one of the most critical. Again, take a look at the list above, and if any of these apply to you, spend some time documenting your IT processes before you sign a letter of intent to ensure that buyers will have confidence in your IT system.

Your Opportunity To Learn More

If you have found this discussion intriguing, and you are considering the eventual sale of your company, we invite you to attend one of our free, no-obligation M&A workshops. While there you will learn about how and when to exit your business (and how to do so with an optimal buyer). Due diligence will also be covered, and you will have the opportunity to have a private conversation with one of our M&A advisors about any concerns you have regarding your IT due diligence specifically and/or due diligence in general. 

In summary, if you are going to approach buyers on your own, be sure to be prepared for full due diligence. Do your own audit, especially of your IT systems and procedures to determine if your company will be able to stand up to the scrutiny of a buyer. You might be surprised what you learn if you take the time to do so.

Carl Doerksen is the Director of Corporate Development at Generational Equity.

© 2012 Generational Equity, LLC All Rights Reserved

Make an informed decision

The best decisions in life are informed decisions. We release educational business insights like this every week. Subscribe to make sure you don’t miss the latest news, views and analysis.


Success, you have been added to our list.

Greetings Mike. Thank you for the captivating and compelling presentation you made at the Phoenix presentation last week. Over many years in business yours was the most informative and well-presented presentation, on any subject, that I have ever attended! Your energy and enthusiasm combined with your concise and captivating support of your positions with easily understood examples and data was compelling.
Pete L.
Thanks to you, the entire GE team and especially Michael Goss for driving a great valuation, coaching me and driving the process across the finish line. Please let me know if there is anything I can do to support GE going forward. P.S. Given my experience with GE I felt comfortable enough to sign up with Generation Wealth Advisors!
Tom Currier, Former President & CEO, Rackmount Solutions
I must say that I have never worked with a more driven, competent and focused individual as Don Ho.
Jay Dinnison, Owner of Sharpe Mixers
The help you provided us during each step of this process made us feel very comfortable and confident we were selecting the right approach to transition our Company.
Andy Graham, Vice President, Modern Heating & Plumbing
I quickly recognized that Don was working for Sharpe Mixers above all else, and held our interests above others.
Jay Dinnison, Owner of Sharpe Mixers
I wanted to take this opportunity to thank you for all that you have done for us. Not only did you take care of all the aspects of the sale but took extra care to make sure we knew what it looked like every step of the way. I will definitely recommend your company to anyone that is in a position to or looking to exit their business.
Shane and Johanna Kline, Owners of Vision Upfitters
Michael worked tirelessly, He followed every lead meticulously and urgently to make sure nothing was missed.
Robert Evans, President and CEO of Mealtracker Dietary Software
I wanted to write you a quick letter to express our appreciation and our delight on the outcome of helping us through the process of our recent sale. We are very happy with the end result, and are very happy to be able to move forward with all of our future growth plans.
Terry D. Wickman, President, Keytroller
Your wisdom and experience were invaluable to me during this once-in-a-lifetime transaction.
Ralph Noblin, President of Noblin & Associates
We thank you Eric and Generational Equity making our dream come true.
Larry Moore, Owner, A Company Portable Restrooms
Thank you again for all your guidance and support. Any company will achieve what they intend, if they have you on their team!
Rick Nowak, President/CEO, Kurz Electric Solutions, Inc.
Through the sale process, Generational brought in several interested buyers and we closed in about 6 months. I am so glad I accepted that invitation to the conference and could not be happier with the whole process. The team at Generational coupled with their knowledge and guidance was so valuable that in the end, I know I could never have done this on my own!
JoAnn Ellis, Owner of Fondren 5 Star Kennels
The professionals at Generational Equity then helped develop a roadmap for enhancing the value of the firm and an evaluation report. This was completed by June 14, 2021. We then developed the Confidential Information Memorandum and put Taylor Studios, Inc. on the market by July.
Generational Equity’s professional staff helped me every step of the way. Their network and professionals are the only reason I sold my company this quickly. For me this is a once in a lifetime sale and I was unfamiliar with the process. I was able to lean on them with questions and concerns.
Betty L. Brennan, President, Taylor Studios
Generational Equity’s assistance was invaluable in compiling and marketing our business.
Bil MacLeslie, CEO, ipHouse
The process was much more involved than I expected and your help, experience and advice was a big factor in making the negotiations go as smoothly as possible.
Terry D. Wickman, President, Keytroller
We were happy to see the interest in our company and what we cherished has not just a valuable company but an important company to the communities we served in.
Larry Moore, Owner, A Company Portable Restrooms
I decided to attend the conference and hopefully receive some guidance on how to structure an exit plan of my business. Upon arriving at the conference, I was so impressed with the presentation given by Generational Equity that I set a future appointment that week to discuss the possibility of selling my business with their Senior Managing Director David Robinson.
JoAnn Ellis, Owner of Fondren 5 Star Kennels
T.D., thank you so much! You are a great leader! I love how you are using your gifts and talents to better others. You are clearly a GREAT COACH! This 3 day session undoubtedly changed the future of our business, and very well may have been the sole catalyst to save my company, my health and my marriage! A genuine “thank you” from the bottom of my heart.
Bryan D. Horn, Owner, Over Under Clothing
I would like to thank you and your firm, Generational Equity, for being our valued advisors in our journey.
Bil MacLeslie, CEO, ipHouse
Generational Equity educated and informed us – so that we could be on the upside of a good decision (to sell).
Bil MacLeslie, CEO, ipHouse
I am pleased that I was able to work with Andrew Byrd throughout this experience. From the first meeting we had in Minneapolis I felt that I was in good hands. His knowledge and expertise is second to none. He guided the process consistently throughout. I feel lucky that I was pared with Andrew and could not be happier that I chose Generational Equity to handle this major life event. Thank you Andrew and GenEq for everything!
Eric Erlandson, Owner, Action Fastenings, Inc.
We were represented by Michael Goss with Generational. The due diligence was grueling and exhausting, but Michael propped us up and kept us motivated throughout the process. Debi and I continued to ask each other how we could possibly make it through this process without the assistance of Michael. Michael's professionalism and knowledge is absolutely amazing, and we are so blessed to have had him by our side as we made our future dreams come true.
Bob and Debi Lee, Owners of BL Technology, Inc and BL Tl Services, LLC
The most important contribution I think Ahmad made was with his personality and work ethic. He is sincere, efficient, and very hard working. He was available to me at all times, whether it was for specific detail of the negotiation or just to talk through the bigger picture. He listened, advised, and recommended, but never forced his idea or opinions. In the time we worked together, he became a valued colleague and also a friend.
Salvo Stoch, Founder and CEO of Sleeping Partners
We had the pleasure of working with Mr. Ahmad Behjati Managing Director, M&A, for Generational Equity during our acquisition of Papa's Dodge in late 2021. Generational Equity and Mr. Behjati represented and marketed Papa’s Dodge. As our primary contact, Mr. Behjati was professional in every facet of this acquisition process, conveying valuable advice most times and assisting us in every step of the process.
Rick Greene of Dobbs Equity Partners LLC
We knew it would be a difficult task to have someone really understand our business and our market, prior to researching a possible buyer, so it was imperative that we found someone of your caliber, with definite proven experience in this area.
Rick Nowak, President/CEO, Kurz Electric Solutions, Inc.
After attending a conference with GE, I decided that the value they bring would be worth the expense and as soon as I started working with them, I realized that was the right decision. When we started to get LOIs, Fred Zweifel took the lead on the communication and supported negotiations throughout the process, which got tricky as we moved forward. I learned that it can be common for companies to make a great offer then work to erode that price with their discoveries, but Fred and the GE team kept that from happening.
Caroline Connelly, CEO, OptoTest
I need to say an immense thank you to Don Ho for his stellar work ethic, attention to detail, and tireless effort. Also thank you to the whole crew at GE! Without you, Don could not do such a phenomenal job. We were shooting for closing and funding before the end of 2020, due to the uncertainty of the political landscape and taxes. I am happy to report we closed last week and will be funding tomorrow.
Dr. Caty J. Catron PhD, RN, VA-BC – Owner, Vic The Picc, LLC
We are very happy with the end result, and are very happy to be able to move forward with all of our future growth plans.
Rick Nowak, President/CEO, Kurz Electric Solutions, Inc.
I couldn’t have asked for a better team than Michael and Deborah. We couldn’t have done it without them.
Robert Evans, President and CEO of Mealtracker Dietary Software