People Must Come First

After completing fifty successful mergers at AdvantEdge, Jay Roberts knows the keys to successful acquisition and to managing a productive team

Profile-web600Jay Roberts knows a thing or two about mergers and acquisitions. He came to AdvantEdge, a company specializing in physician billing, four years ago with dozens of successful mergers under his belt. As the head of both the people services and finance departments, Roberts is in a unique position to ensure that both the financial and employee aspects of mergers go smoothly.

Seamless Integration

“Blending cultures is a really big deal,” says Roberts. “In order for a merger to be successful, you have to mesh cultures fairly quickly.” AdvantEdge’s strategy is to fully integrate the acquisitions as soon as possible so that the company can operate seamlessly as one brand with the same internal technology. To ensure success, Roberts’s team does their due diligence before the acquisition to make sure the new company will fit into the existing corporate culture.

Sometimes that means adopting new practices along with the merger. “We don’t think the way in which we do things is the only way or that we’ve got the optimum solution all the time,” Roberts says. When looking at integration, his team wants to identify the best practice for the newly merged entity. “We’re willing to adopt best practices from an acquired company to make our company stronger and better,” he says.

Another key to a successful mergers and acquisitions strategy, according to Roberts, is using the same team to handle the integration process from the first stages of pre-acquisition research to the final assessment post-merger. “It’s the same people we work with throughout the process, which creates a sense of continuity,” he explains.

The third critical piece to a successful acquisition process, in Roberts’ experience, is to make sure the client is happy after merging. “We do a really good job of engaging all of our teams, not just the acquired team, in improving and enhancing client relationships,” Roberts says. “We take very deliberate steps in how we do that to create the right interaction with the client.” AdvantEdge prides itself in offering improved technologies to the client post-acquisition. It is able to deliver better reporting and technology solutions to the new clients. “We continue to maintain a high degree of client contact, but then we add to that, bringing richer features and functions to our solutions,” Roberts says. “We ensure that the client will remain with us and remain happy.”

Internal Collaboration

Client satisfaction is a big part of Roberts’s job. As head of both the people services and finance departments, he is tasked with providing support services for all the company’s internal clients. The dual role serves to improve both the financial reporting and time management for his colleagues. For example, a new initiative underway at AdvantEdge seeks to move all financial and analytics reporting into a cloud-based system so managers can have direct access to the information remotely. Similarly, expense reporting has been moved to a self-service, cloud-based system to reduce cost and time for traveling employees.

For these company-wide initiatives, Roberts puts both the director of finance and the director of people services on the same project team. The people who will be affected by the new systems also work on the teams to ensure that the improvements are efficient and provide a significant benefit to employees. “It allows myself and my team of people services and finance to recognize that we have a very important client—our colleagues,” Roberts says.

People First

“In my role, I have an opportunity to be of great service to my associates within the organization,” Roberts says. “My team and I take that pretty seriously.” His staff is very responsive to employee needs, making sure that their colleagues have the information they need to perform well in their roles, as well as the security and support of excellent benefit programs. “It brings me satisfaction professionally to lead my teams to understand the benefit, value, and importance of supporting our coworkers.”

To that end, benefit programs are aimed not just at providing basic health care but to improving the overall wellness and energy of each employee. Roberts has overseen the implementation of wellness programs that promote employee engagement. He also recognizes that family comes first. “We try to treat people in a way that allows them to take care of themselves and their families so they’ll be happy and productive,” he says. “We build in flexibility to allow people to make sure their home needs are being met.”

At AdvantEdge, Roberts experiences the benefits of a well-supported and engaged workforce firsthand, making sure that his staff knows he is fully committed. His messaging to employees is to take personal responsibility for their wellness and their work. “I tend to give my staff latitude to make their own decisions and hold them accountable,” Roberts says. “I am willing to make investments in my staff personally and create programs for all my colleagues that can be fun and lead to a healthier, more productive individual. And that’s something I take seriously.”