Breaking Up Is Hard To Do

By: Robert Spearing

Consulting, Divestiture, EAI, Operations, PMO

Even a business with a long history needs to reinvent itself


Briefly: Saggezza supports a successful spin-off for a global provider of integrated communications




As the landscape of digital media continues to evolve at an almost daily pace, Saggezza’s client, a leading global provider of integrated communication solutions and services, made the decision to spin-off into three distinct companies. The company’s separation provides a unique opportunity to unlock value as well as restructure and optimize the businesses’ operating models.

When the client announced this move, it launched a period of rapid transformation as the organization prepared itself logistically, financially, and culturally for its transition. That required a hard look at various internal processes in the lead up to the formal spin-off, and two critical areas emerged: communications-driven program management and effective enterprise application integration throughout the vast number of application groups.

Over the past 10 years, Saggezza’s client has developed a strategically diverse portfolio and business mix (from traditional printing to multi-channel communications), while growing into one of the largest integrated communications providers in the world. Having partnered with the client on various engagements including technical, logistics, and strategic implementations, Saggezza was poised to bring our domain expertise and deep familiarity with the organization to bear.

As a technology-driven business, an important priority for each new subsidiary (and the parent) was to sustain its business upon separation. The broad strategy called for a multi-staged go live including a “soft” and “hard” spin and an eventual physical landscape split, within a highly complex business process environment with project resources covering operations throughout the world.




In order to complete the full divestiture, the three eventual new companies required their own completely independent application landscapes, including many applications requiring complex integrations, both internal and third-party.
In any divestiture or spin-off, much of the difficulty revolves around accomplishing the spin while maintaining operability. In defining the success of the spin project and overall application integration work, Saggezza identified a series of critical points upon which to focus:

  • • Consistent executive sponsorship, reporting awareness, and team meeting cadence
  • • Clear lines of communication established from PMO up to executive sponsors and down to project resources
  • • Project team personal ownership and accountability for solutions and on-time delivery to deadlines
  • • Collaborative and creative solution design environment
  • • Methodical and tenacious execution on a predefined and well thought-out project plan

Specifically, our client faced potential operational challenges with legacy systems and their interoperability with other, more recent, enterprise systems built on multiple platforms. The client’s increasing business volume also posed a major challenge in handling their customers’ needs during the spin-off, as their systems demanded high interoperability and flexibility. From an EAI standpoint, Saggezza focused on:

  • • Gaining trust and learning fast, educating team members in a challenging and potentially disruptive environment while remaining apolitical
  • • Remediating the lack of documentation across the entire application landscape
  • • Maintaining business volume
  • • Prioritization of work and task clarity for all contributors
  • • Customer/client designation (breaking vs. non)
  • • Risk management and escalation


The Work


Program Management


Saggezza developed a series of customized solutions to communicate with and enable the executive steering committee overseeing the spin-off. With a clear focus on communication, reporting, and reporting structure, Saggezza served as PMO for 10 key IT groups (including infrastructure, ops, and coached lead).

While working to build clear lines of communication between client staff and team members, Saggezza remained apolitical in a high-stress business environment. Building clarity, Saggezza helped to communicate and execute the leadership mandate and the scope of financially impacting and highly disruptive applications for phase one, soft-spin launches, prior to the final go-live date. Additionally, the team maintained requirements for SOX compliance testing and validation.

Crucially, the team identified these disruptive applications, escalating risk and providing fallback strategies as appropriate


Enterprise Application Integration


Outside broad program management and reporting, Saggezza was brought on to create the delivery of the solution framework and broadly coordinate the program plan, addressing all the integration challenges at the enterprise level and enable communication via various channels without impacting existing systems. The EAI framework allowed scalable configurations to integrate different systems/applications within the enterprise at different intervals, allowing for greater flexibility during the transition.

Quickly ramping up on domain knowledge, Saggezza touched on over 65 application groups including everything from customer service and invoicing to fulfillment and distribution.




The EAI framework functioned as a central hub, with a customized dashboard featuring a variety of metrics. The EAI Progress Tracker (above) was built to monitor and manage integrations and clarify reporting and controlling integration operations at various levels. The communications hub also served to clarify the definition of done for the overall spin process and was a key tool in communicating program milestones with the executive steering committee.




Our deep knowledge and familiarity with the clients’ application landscape and its evolution over time were critical to success. Importantly, however, partnering to immediately identify unknowns, escalate risk, and build crucial rapport with an internal team in a challenging situation all led to a successful, on-schedule spin-off.

Overall, the client’s spin-off will help increase management focus on each business by enabling the pursuit of tailored business strategies, increasing organic growth opportunities, and giving the new companies flexibility to optimize and strengthen their market positions. Saggezza’s EAI support provided vital integration and reporting in a technically complex and demanding environment.

As a technology focused company, you will be led predominantly by IT, and the business will look to IT to drive overall impact. From release planning to initiating business discussions around risk escalation, Saggezza’s tenacity in constantly driving and improving internal communication is an imperative in any business restructuring environment.



Breaking up is hard to do...


And large divestitures and spin-offs bring a unique set of challenges when it comes to IT. Saggezza remains at the forefront of architecting major global transitions. Contact us today to learn more about how our team managed a strategic, multi-phase spin-off in a demanding environment.


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