How to make a due diligence IT support?

Dobrica Pavlinusic, 2002-02-28

Purpose of this document

The purpose of this document is to provide practical advice when providing IT support to Due Diligence process. This document does not discuss techniques for providing due diligence of IT. It is (intentionally) limited to IT support of due diligence process.

This document is result of my own experience in two due diligence operations, but I hope that it will be helpful to others too.

Due Diligence in general

The goal of due diligence is to gather data. The goal of IT support of due diligence (in rest of the text DD) is to support that data gathering.

More or less, IT should provide following service to DD team members.

Those services include:

It's important to note that DD is usually performed in data room in which binders with data are located. However, DD team members also have need for a meeting room that will usually be located at hotel in which they are sleeping. That location will also have to be supported. Don't settle with idea that it's enough to support just one of those locations. That won't do!

Provide connectivity

This can be done using local network, IrDA connectivity or floppy disk transfer. Please use at least two of those to provide redundancy.

It's extremely important to note that connectivity has to be provided in data rooms and in meeting room (which is usually other location).

Under connectivity we think of ability to exchange files and to send e-mail messages. Those are basic services. Other possible applications are central printer and repository of all files (which might be an overkill depending on particular DD).

Connection to Internet

Usually DD team members will want connectivity to theirs company. However, they would want connectivity to Internet as well, trust me. So, if you are using company's dial-in, check that all users have access to Internet through it. Hotel will probably have some mean to connect to Internet. It's a good idea to provide web mail service on your corporate pages that is accessible from Internet to all team members.

Another good idea is to have central repository of DD documentation that is accessible from company network and from Internet. Of course, don't do this if it can't be secured. That means password protection and encryption of traffic to it using at least 128bit SSL (https protocol).

You should consider using VPN to access corporate intranet. You have basically two choices here: install VPN server and install VPN clients on each machine. General knowledge is that VPN server is most commonly used when you must connect a group of people. However, by gut feeling (based on experience) is that VPN client is much better solution than to take whole laptop just for VPN server. There might be license question for VPN clients, but that is really just a good reason to change your VPN software (again, from personal experience... you will have to trust me on this). There are also free solutions that are quite good (CIPE from comes to mind if you have Linux server and Windows clients).

It's so much easier and faster to use hotel's DSL connection (if available) than to call dial-in (RAS). Also, that way you will need just one telephone line (or DSL connection) for whole group. However, for VPN server to work with DSL you might need two network cards. Have them.

Local network

You will probably need to setup local network, if not in data rooms (which is probably overhead), surly in meeting room. Bring, lease of buy network HUBs. They are so cheap and accessible these days that it doesn't make sense to take them in airplane. Extra change for baggage will pay for new HUBs.

Take network cables for all team members with you. They will not remember to take their own. Also, it's much easier for them not to take network cables.

If you change network configuration to DD team members, notify your helpdesk and support staff back home to change setting back to local ones upon return. Don't think that you will have time to write down network setup during DD and before you change it. If you can't recover network setup upon return, record it before leaving.

Provide printing

This is fairly easy: you can bring the printer with you or lease one. However, I would suggest that you bring one portable ink-jet printer with you (if for nothing else, for backup). It's highly possible that someone would want to print something on that other location on which you didn't leased a printer.

Also, have backup for your printer. They tend to break at worst times: for example when you have to print out questions that should be handed in five minutes ago.

Of course, multiple printers also mean multiple printer drivers. Have that in mind.

Important facts and practical tips


When planning to go to DD:

  1. send e-mail to team members remaining them to take floppy drives with them (and that there is no need to take network cables if applicable)
  2. take administrator passwords for all laptops
  3. check voltage on equipment
  4. pre-install VPN software and printer drivers on laptops
  5. make CD with all pre-installed software (printer drivers, VPN client) and put all available documents about DD on it too. Make two copies (CDs are cheap!).

This is just a quick overview for you to go through before you leave:

  1. check if you have power and telephone adapters
  2. check if you have means to buy needed adapters in place (money)
  3. check if VPN software is working
  4. check that you packed all equipment