If you’re on the road to an IPO, it’s time to begin functioning as a public company. This changes the way a company operates internally and how it interacts with external stakeholders. As such, it is vital that organizations identify and address any gaps or deficiencies before going public. Organizations that are ill equipped to function as a public company risk the loss of investor confidence and of equity value that can potentially be measured in tens of millions of dollars or more.
An IPO is a complex undertaking for any organization and has a pervasive impact across many functional areas within the company. Preparation can be lengthy depending on the relative maturity of the company, its business model and existing people, processes and systems. As every company is different, preparation to become a public company can span from 6 to 18 months or even longer.
This window gives a private company the opportunity to build the capabilities to think, act and perform as a public company. The magnitude of the required improvements will directly impact the level of effort and resources required. Going public requires careful planning, executing and monitoring of activities across several areas of an organization requiring close coordination. As such, we recommend developing and executing a comprehensive project plan.
On top of this complex company overhaul, time pressure will only increase as a company gets closer to formally launching an IPO, forcing an organization to prioritize multiple workstreams to complete the most important elements before launch and eventual pricing. The better prepared a company is, the more efficient and potentially less costly, and painful, this process can be.
Launching a successful IPO requires making several decisions and coordinating complex activities across various parts of your business to achieve common goals. Strong project management is critical to success. For a project management function to be effective and operate efficiently, it will require two things: the right people and strong governance. The PMO needs individuals who have strong project management skills and also have transactional IPO experience so they understand the content and process. The PMO requires a strong project governance structure with proper decision-making authority delegated at each level of the organization, a detailed project plan with accountable owners and a robust communication and reporting cadence. An effective PMO can help drive the following:
Overall, an IPO generally receives a lot of internal and external attention, but in reality it’s no different from any other business initiative. An organization would not think twice about starting a complex systems implementation without a project manager. Why should an IPO be different? The complexities, cross-functional participation and interdependencies of an IPO require the discipline and rigor of an effective project management office.