Companies that integrate their IT systems quickly after a merger have fewer problems than those that make the transition slowly, according to Anosh Thakkar, global manager for corporate performance management and business intelligence at Mittal Steel.
Mittal Steel is a highly acquisitive company, with 20 takeovers in the past nine years. In June, it announced an £18bn merger with US steel producer Arcelor. Mittal is currently building a global SAP template for steel industry processes to speed up integration.
Speaking at the Triple-i user conference last month, Thakkar said his challenge was to bring together quickly a host of different IT set-ups.
"Some are highly developed, such as those in South Africa and the US, with high IT costs, and others, such as in the Ukraine, are very mature, with low return on investment and lots of suppliers," he said.
Another challenge is the varied state of IT in the acquisitions. "With acquisitions there is limited, if any, due diligence from the IT perspective," he said.
"Our acquisition strategy is driven by production capacity, product portfolio, rate to market and profitable customer service."
To speed up IT standardisation, Mittal embarked on a major enterprise resource planning project last year to build a global SAP template, with a blueprint and standard definitions for most steel industry processes. The project will continue for up to four years, said Thakkar.
Standard data definition is the hardest part because the discussion and arguments it brings can be time consuming, he said.
With 80 steel plants around the world, Mittal is not looking to achieve a complete customisation of processes, but is following the 80/20 rule. "We are looking to achieve 75% to 80% process standardisation in a global template, with about 20% customised locally," Thakkar said.