Driving quick and effective business integration for Merkle ANZ in the dentsu network

The Challenge

Merkle is the leading data-driven customer experience company in the dentsu network

In December 2022, Merkle ANZ acquired Aware Services and wanted to immediately integrate it into the dentsu network 

“For the Aware team, joining Merkle meant being part of a 15,000-strong, leading customer experience company with a 30+ year record. Our biggest challenge was going to be bringing people from across the business together, from legal and finance to business platforms and technology. With the added layer of global, regional, and local teams too.” says Deepa Singh, Chief Operations Officer at Merkle Australia 

Tangram has been working with dentsu Australia since 2016 when we implemented the ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) System, Deltek WorkBookTo integrate Aware into the Merkle business and dentsu Network eco system, we needed to help consolidate systems, data, processes, teams, and ways of working to deliver a consistent brand experience across all functions and workstreams.” says Helen Johnson, Founder at Tangram. 

The Solution

Unlike the conventional 3-4 year timeline, typical of an agency acquisition, Merkle ANZ opted for immediate integration, recognising the benefits it could bring. This accelerated approach allowed Merkle ANZ to enhance client services, strengthen its data and analytics capabilities, and explore new opportunities through Aware’s existing clients. It also provided the flexibility to scale up and pursue larger opportunities with an expanded team, reinforcing Merkle ANZ’s standing as a leader in the data-driven customer experience landscape.  

“Having worked with the dentsu team for 7+ years, Tangram was in a unique position to help join the dots. We knew the different stakeholders in each of the divisions and we could help streamline processes and make things happen. We could liaise with each function stakeholder and pool all the different workstreams together to report back holistically. It was really a change management and communications project above all else.” says Helen Johnson, Founder of Tangram

Enabling the Change

Strong project governance was key to the success of the project, ensuring tasks, risks and issues were tracked and escalated, and stakeholders informed of progress weekly.

  1. Tangram set up multiple workstreams with leaders and subject matter experts from Merkle ANZ, dentsu functional teams & Aware Services. Each team was tasked with managing the transitions across their respective areas. 
  2. Tasks and sub-tasks were prioritised into a detailed 6-month action plan. 
  3. Kicked off 7 workstreams with detailed task plan for each. Project managing a team of over 30 senior stakeholders across the dentsu network.  
  4. Managed communications, change management and the onboarding and training of staff across the various workstreams. 

The Outcome

We successfully integrated Aware Services and Merkle ANZ in a remarkable 6 months across a number of key workstreams. 

People

Technology

  • Successfully transitioned all employment contracts to Merkle ANZ and onboarded staff to HR & Payroll platforms. 
  • Exited Aware office locations and welcomed staff to dentsu offices in month one.  
  • Integrated teams via welcome, onboarding and knowledge sharing events.
  • Issued dentsu IT hardware to staff and retired Aware IT hardware and accessories. 
  • Onboarded users to Merkle email domains, SSO and a suite of enterprise applications.  
  • Informed key M&A security controls.

Enterprise Platforms

Finance & Commercial

  • Implemented WorkBook, D365, Concur, Salesforce, SharePoint and Teams. 
  • Migrated Slack, Confluence, Miro and Lucid. 
  • Migrated the whole business onto dentsu financial systems.
  • Achieved one P&L.
  • Transferred assets to Merkle ANZ.
  • Aligned on rate cards and pricing. 
  • Consolidated brand assets. 
  • Developed a sales strategy to deliver enhanced capabilities across key client accounts.

Training, Change Management and Communications

The integration program of work was underpinned by a robust change management and communications plan which ensured each area of the business across local, regional and global teams were kept informed of key deliverables and milestones. This included weekly status meetings across seven individual workstreams, weekly progress updates to the wider business, as well as monthly executive updates to leadership. 

The Aware team was supported with Knowledge Sharing sessions on key capabilities across Merkle and dentsu, as well as onboarding, training and support sessions on new platforms, processes and ways of working. Support channels were also set-up so the team could ask questions and collaborate with the wider business. 

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APAC

Helen Johnson 
helen@bytangram.com
+61 404 458 797

EU

Christian Arpe-Hansen
cah@bytangram.com
+45 31 36 66 03