Integration needs to be thought out, but executed quickly. In this interview, Windy Nicholson, Technology Leader for Mergers and Acquisitions at Salesforce, discusses how to improve IMO for efficiency. In addition to having a competent team, there are additional strategies that can be implemented to improve an IMO for efficiency. This article will explore some of these strategies, with insights from Windy Nicholson, the Technology Leader for Mergers and Acquisitions at Salesforce.
“The faster you do integrations, the more money you save. So look for speed and improvements over time and not be stuck in the same thing you’ve been doing for the last ten years.” - Windy Nicholson
Playbooks are an effective means of establishing repeatable processes. Starting from scratch in constructing a new integration strategy for each acquisition can prove to be inefficient. By implementing playbooks, operations can be executed more smoothly and efficiently, offering stakeholders a structured and reliable framework to follow. This results in faster and more consistent integration efforts.
During the integration process, have a consistent definition of "done" for each acquisition. A significant portion of integration tasks should align with each other. To maintain integration task alignment, Windy Nicholson and her team produce regular reports on a monthly and quarterly basis.
Once an acquisition is completed and transferred to the business leader, Windy’s team reflects on their work and identifies areas for improvement. Based on these learnings, they adjust the playbooks and continuously strive to make them more effective.
Changes to the playbook must be judicious and take into consideration factors such as timing, customer obligations, and other relevant considerations. When making playbook changes, consider the potential impact on current and future processes and stakeholders.
The integration of two companies often presents challenges and changes that can impact governance. To ensure accountability and facilitate smooth progress, Windy and her team at Salesforce adopt a DACI (driver, approver, contributor, and informed) approach for defining key roles. By clarifying who holds authority in key areas and situations, the DACI method enables the project to move forward with clarity and efficiency during group decision-making.
The integration process can be significantly impacted by employee attrition, which is why it is crucial to ensure that employees have a positive experience during the transition. Merging two distinct companies into a cohesive unit can be a complex and time-consuming process, requiring stakeholders to acclimate to each other's cultures and collaborative endeavors. In order to facilitate a smooth integration, acquirers need to prioritize culture and exhibit empathy towards employees.
“When you acquire a team, just be a little human and have a little empathy. We do have a job to do, but let’s do it together. ” – Windy Nicholson
By working closely with the acquired team, a combined plan can be devised that takes into consideration the feedback of all stakeholders, and leverages the best practices from both companies to drive success moving forward.