Lanyon and MCG: Relieving the Headache During a Merger
Dallas-based event automation company Lanyon was managing a period of unprecedented growth — and with it, all the administrative challenges and complications that inevitably crop up as organizations expand and strengthen.
Founded in 1984 as a software provider servicing corporate transient travel, Lanyon’s current transformation began once it was purchased by Vista Equity Partners in December 2012. Following their acquisition of Lanyon, Vista acquired Active Network, also a provider of activity and participant management software, in October 2013, and by February 2014, Vista had paired Lanyon with Active Network’s Business Solutions Group and consolidated the companies under the Lanyon name. Later in 2014, the reformed Lanyon acquired the companies Passkey and Genie Connect to complement their existing event solutions and became Lanyon Services.
The result? A strategically formed software company capable of delivering solutions for managing corporate events, meetings and travel programs that range from large-scale technology summits to a lone sales person in need of travel and hotel bookings. But as is typical with a process of mergers and acquisitions such as this, one pressing residual effect was the need to reconcile a number of accounts that were left outstanding during the company’s transformation.
John Mills, CFO at Lanyon, knew the extreme challenge that lay ahead of him, not only with the complexity of the financial operations his staff faced, but also regarding the urgency to complete them in a timely fashion before 2015 came to an end.
“The bottom line there is that in 2014, four different entities were put together under one roof,” Mills said. “In 2015, we spent a lot of time trying to integrate these companies, put them on the same set of systems and integrate the employees and processes. As part of that, we wanted to integrate onto one common ERP financial system — we did that in the middle of 2015. Because of all the transition in system implementations and all the new people hired in 2014 and 2015, we found ourselves where we had a lot of accounts to reconcile before the year end came around, in preparation for our audit and in order to run the business.
“We were not staffed to get our day-to-day jobs done and catch up on some of these account reconciliations, and they were complex and challenging because of historical data problems and lack of experience. So we had a one-time, pretty significant project to complete a number of account reconciliations before year end. That was the engagement — that’s why we hired MCG.”
Mills had built a previous working relationship with MCG through a CFO position with another company prior to joining Lanyon. Those previous engagements included tax work and other related functions, but the prospect of reconciling Lanyon’s financials as the year wound down was, in Mills’ words, “a rather urgent situation with a pretty tall mountain in front of us that needed to go away one stone at a time.”
Such a monumental task with a looming deadline required putting together a team at MCG that had the ability and experience to quickly handle the accounting remediation and process improvements Lanyon required by year end. After interviewing key personnel across multiple departments and staff levels at Lanyon to capture the current processes and systems, MCG partner Paul Dunn and other members of the Consulting Services group set to work mobilizing the right team for the project.
With a background specializing in strategic finance organization transformation, Dunn established an open dialogue with his cohorts at Lanyon, which allowed the project group at MCG to efficiently handle the complexities of the job while coming up with practical solutions for Lanyon’s ongoing needs. As with all their clients, the goal was to get moving on solving problems, rather than worrying about things such as payment, structuring the project or terms and conditions of the contract. This approach led to completing the existing reconciliations, implementing procedures and system enhancements, and ultimately, a successful financial statement audit before 2015 wrapped up. Mills recognized the process MCG applied to the project evaluation and job resolution.
“One thing that was very helpful: The senior team stepped in when they needed to step in, they got their hands dirty and were able to help with the engagement.”
“A couple of things come to mind. One, they’re persistent in working through some challenging reconciliations,” Mills said. “It’s not fun work and they were very persistent in doing the work until the job was complete. It showed they were invested in getting the project completed and not just completed, but completed on time in a good way.
“They narrowed down the scope, got the right people who could handle the scope that was required, and then got up to speed and going. Once we got going, it was effort and persistence and skill. Another thing that was very helpful: The senior team stepped in when they needed to step in, they got their hands dirty and were able to help with the engagement.”
With their immediate and future roadblocks removed, Lanyon has been able to focus on their business: leveraging technology to provide solutions that help simplify the planning, budgeting and organizing process for buyers, planners and suppliers. The company’s engagement with MCG helped put the implements in place to solidify their place in this growing service industry.
“Obviously, having the accounts reconciled and up to date is the most significant benefit, and we were able to use the templates and the process MCG helped establish, just adopt that and leverage that experience and their tools to use it going forward,” Mills said. “They set it up and we’re running on our own now.”