The below article was written for and appeared in Chief Executive Magazine. It can be found in its entirety here.
By Mahfuz Ahmed
There comes a time in the course of business when a CEO has to look at the numbers and make decisions to fundamentally change the strategies used to generate growth.
In the day-to-day operations of an organization, it’s easy to forget to focus on the future, but strategic thinking and parallel realities play a huge part in how a CEO makes decisions for any company.
The infamous question we all hear in job interviews “Where do you want to be in the next 10 years,” almost takes on an eerie connotation when thinking through the variables one has to consider—these include the business itself, the people working for it, the market vulnerability, sustainability and the need to spawn long-term growth and profitability.
Within staffing, this question has a very fluid answer as it can change on a dime. Currently, staffing firms are seeing an influx of opportunities to place well-skilled individuals into a thriving marketplace. But in many areas, artificial intelligence, machine learning and the automation of duplicative processes is cutting into the sustainability of the business —especially in IT. Additionally, changes in the buying behavior of staffing clients—focusing on outcomes, output-based pricing and centralized staffing have driven a more careful look at how staffing firms should adapt to the market.
As our organization looked towards sustainable growth and into making an impact on the industries we serve in staffing and managed services, our executive team and I decided it was important for DISYS to not only grow organically but to put into place mechanisms to give us a strategic advantage and build upon our fundamental business model. So, over a two-year period, we developed a comprehensive, aggressive acquisition strategy to accomplish our mission on all fronts.
In simple terms: We would look at acquiring strategically beneficial firms who brought on board marquee clients and also complimented and/or made our current offerings more robust, while growing our footprint in strategic markets. With a strategy as aggressive and risky as acquisition, there are many fundamentals that have to be put into place and operating smoothly for success.
For us, it was hiring executives who had M&A experience and who knew how to navigate the process from start to finish. It included making an investment in company infrastructure including internal IT and HR capabilities agile enough in design to adapt to needed changes. It was also paramount to create and perfect back-office workings easily replicated across the acquisition of brands.
Our strategy & plan of action included:
- Building a robust platform for growth
- Building criteria to look for strategically complementary clients
- Researching a list of viable organizations that match our strategy
- Developing and executing sophisticated, repeatable processes to facilitate multiple acquisitions over a few years
It was not our goal to ‘buy, buy, buy.’ Instead, we subscribed to the belief that careful research, countless hours of due diligence and an in-depth knowledge of the corporate culture employed within possible acquisition targets would guide our decisions.
We didn’t want to necessarily target fledgling businesses — but established ones with strong reputations benefiting from what we had to offer. We wanted to find organizations whose leadership thought being acquired was a logical next step in their business cycle.
Of course, some of these conversations end up going really well and others don’t. But we have stayed true to our strategy and thus far, have acquired 3 companies successfully. We are seeing returns in our investments through the unparalleled talent, new clients, and new markets each of these acquisitions adds to our corporate family. We are able to serve all of our clients through the delivery of exceptional talent and innovative global solutions and are proving every day that the time and effort we put into developing our plans of action and our execution is paying off, leading us to record-breaking growth in 2019.