Too often businesses find themselves frustrated with the lack of project management among their professional advisers when it comes to deal delivery. Many advisers have rushed to fix the problem through the recruitment of project managers. While this is a helpful step, it can come at the expense of proper engagement with underlying business and cultural issues. Working with a number of clients, we have developed a different, more technology-driven approach to effective project management. This is achieving smoother and more certain deal delivery.

The challenge

M&A deals rarely fall over because of the legal advisers. However, clients often remark that in fast-paced, bet-the-company transactions the difference between good and bad advisers is stark. Most lawyers will get you to the end destination, but the quality of the journey is what counts.

Too often, deal execution relies on the brilliance and diligence of individuals rather than an institutionalised approach to execution developed in conjunction with the client and implemented consistently.

Most lawyers will get you to the end destination, but the quality of the journey is what counts.

The solution

Our process began with a survey of client opinion and best practice across the industry, conducted by RSG Consulting.

The results were reviewed and analysed by a multidisciplinary team of legal subject-matter experts, technologists, knowledge engineers and project managers.

Working with an experienced project manager, the team set out to develop a better way.

We identified the common phases of a transaction: scoping, diligence, documentation and negotiation, completion and post-completion.

These were then mapped against the core client considerations as identified in the survey. They were: transaction planning, resource planning, governance, deal development, cost control and risk management.

We developed a methodology that distilled best practice across our most experienced transactional teams in handling these recurrent elements.

We developed an implementation solution using the HighQ platform to give clients a 'single source of truth' in any transaction. The days of spreadsheets sitting in e-mail in-trays are gone.

Clients could now gain access to:

  • a standard (yet configurable) workflow, to ensure consistency in lawyer inputs and activity
  • a dashboard interface, enabling clients to access all deal information in real time and giving them greater visibility and control of the transaction
  • risk visualisation tools, using data entered in the system through the delivery of the transaction. This gives clients an 'at a glance' picture of delivery risk not possible before.

The platform, DealHub, now provides clients with visibility across the discrete phases of a deal, and helps project managers monitor performance against plans. It contains tools to manage open issues, deliverables, workstreams and due diligence risks.

The result

We piloted DealHub with Embrace Healthcare on a series of transactions with an aggregate value of several hundred million pounds. Tangible improvements included:

  • Reduced e-mail traffic
  • More transparency of costs
  • Better anticipation of issues and deal-critical information
  • Standardised reporting

Since this project we have deployed DealHub on a number of other transactions and a number of corporates are investigating the use of the solution on an enterprise-wide level, including licensing the solution for projects where Pinsent Masons has no involvement.

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