Why M&A Plays

Data Room Setup

Utilize a Data Room to reduce costs, save time, and facilitate better execution. Store information relevant to the transaction that might be requested conveniently.

About the play

All sensitive documents and information relevant to the transaction that buyers may or are likely to request should always be uploaded into the data room. Slow responsiveness and lack of available information can often cause deals to fail and/or price at lower valuations. 

A single data room can help resolve these issues. Plus it can help reduce costs, save time, facilitate better execution with more timely and accurate advice. 

Note: this play doesn’t decide what the data room tool should be or the steps in selecting one. It assumes the choice of tool has already been made.



Executive sponsor, separation manager, and deal team




Meeting Agenda, Whiteboard, Strategy documents


Spend one day or more to prepare materials for a two hour play.

Running the Play:


Build an Invesntory

The data room should be utilized as early as possible following the decision to proceed with the sales activities. 

The structure of the data room may vary by organization.  However, there are some consistent areas that are industry agnostic.  When establishing sections, consider organizing data into the following key areas: 

  • Company Overview
  • Management & Human Resources
  • Sales, Marketing
  • Customers and Vendors
  • Real Estate
  • Facilities & Other Material PPE
  • Financial & Accounting
  • Legal & Entity
  • Technology
  • Other

Populate the Data Room

There are no hard and fast rules here, however, it’s typical to have the following documentation.

  1. Company Overview
  • History of the business unit                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  • Ownership structure                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              
  • Strategic plans
  1. Management & Human Resources
  • Organizational chart
  • Management and key talent resumes
  • Management and key talent contracts
  • Executive compensation schedule
  • Employee benefit plans
  • Employee manual
  1. Sales, Marketing, Customers, and Vendors
  • Schedule of key customers and accounts
  • Key customer and account agreements and contracts
  • Sales catalog
  • Schedule of key vendors
  • Marketing strategy and plans
  • Schedule of outside marketing consultants
  1. Real Estate, Facilities & Other Material PPE
  • Schedule of real estate, facilities, and other material PPE                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              
  • Deeds                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             
  • Leases                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              
  • Maintenance and service agreements                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               
  • Utility contracts and agreements
  1. Financial & Accounting
  • Financial statements                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             
  • Management accounts                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             
  • Tax returns if filed separately for this business unit                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              
  • Debt and other financing agreements                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  1. Legal & Entity
  • Trademarks                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             
  • Registrations                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               
  • Patents and pending patents                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              
  • Articles of incorporation, operating agreements or similar entity formation documentation if separate for the business unit                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               
  • Board meeting minutes if separate for the business unit                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              
  • Material insurance agreements                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             
  • Business licenses and permits                                                                                                                                                                                                               
  1. Technology & Systems
  • Schedule of key technologies and systems                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            
  • Copies of license agreements          

Establish Administrative Access 

According to the tool in use, set up the owner, groups, add users and set permissions as required. 

For more information on how to set up your data room check out this blog - How to Setup a VDR in 4 Easy Steps.