Day one is a monumental day for acquirers. All cuffs are off, and the target company has an official new owner. How well the acquired business is integrated will determine the transaction's success and the realized value. In this article, Gene Hugh, Chief Financial Officer at Procure Analytics, and John Morada, COO at M&A Science + DealRoom, will discuss how to execute an integration plan successfully.
"Executing an integration plan is 99% about people and 1% about the framework. So if you get it right with the people, the integration will go much better." - John Morada
While integration planning starts way before day one, none of it matters when you don't have a good relationship with the target company. Integration can take years, and it is crucial to have an excellent professional relationship with the target's integration lead.
As soon as day one hits, clearly define where the IMO sits, who the steering committee is, who the workstream leads are, and where they should go when they have questions. Socialize the framework where people will work to avoid bottlenecks and delays.
Manage expectations as to who owns what. One person needs to take responsibility for the entire integration process, and appoint workstream leads across all functions.
Lastly, communicate with the incoming team about what will happen and what the company's future state will look like. Managing people's fear is a huge part of integration because losing key people will result in massive value leaks.
The role of the IMO is to achieve the best possible value from the transaction based on the buy plan. To do this, ensure that everybody's working to their optimal level and that decisions are made with the best possible information.
Fast decision-making is crucial during integration because the longer it takes to finish, there’s a higher chance of value being lost. The goal is to keep the process moving forward.
"At the end of the day, they are all people and want to be treated like people. They need to understand how we communicate, and what the future state looks like." - Gene Hugh
Throughout Gene and John’s years of experience, they know that plans never go perfectly. Always expect the unexpected. Unforeseeable things always happen during integration, and the best thing to do is to pivot, solve the problem, and move on.
Also, no matter what, M&A is all about people. Whether you are integrating systems or processes, people are the ones that run each workstream. Managing people's relationships is one of the most important things to ensure a successful integration.