So what works when integrating acquisitions, mergers, and business unit consolidations? After 3 decades performing business integrations, here’s a list of “better” practices we have developed from experiences in over 20 integrative situations.
(We say “better” practices as opposed to “best” practices because we do not believe there is ever truly a best. In the context of ever improving competitive advantage, there will always be a business practice or strategy which is better than the one you have. Assuming you can effectively adopt someone else’s practice, better firms always look for the next better approach to beating competitors or improve internal processes.)
- Articulate vision in financial and non-financial terms
- Focus on both customer and employee retention – pay attention to the details that matter most
- Develop detailed plans pre-close involving stakeholders from the acquirer and the acquired
- Determine specific value milestones across the business
- Determine specific risk mitigation milestones across the business
- Communicate, communicate, communicate
- Resolve people and organizational issues quickly
- Understand and leverage the cycle of change
- Build and retain integration core competencies (people, process, tools) for an acquisitive firm
- Move quickly to complete the integration in a matter of weeks or months not years
- Monitor progress and remediate issues rapidly
These better practices evolve over time as new business models and new operating processes emerge.