Why M&A Plays

Kickoff Meeting

Explore how to Ensure everyone on board of M&A and Due Diligence shares common knowledge of the project and roles. Learn how to explain the process in a simple manner.

About the play

The entire program team (including all project team members) attends a kickoff meeting to encourage alignment.

Kickoff meetings can be used to launch various aspects of the M&A lifecycle, but are most commonly associated with due diligence; it should be noted here that the commencement of diligence is often a source of difficulty for many organizations.

The preliminary stages of the deal culminate in the kickoff, which marks the formalized intent to buy or sell a company and officially signals the deal leaving the drawing board. The kickoff is a critical moment for establishing the tone and momentum of the deal process in a larger sense. A well-planned and well-executed kickoff elevates the morale of the deal team and promotes confidence both internally and externally.

A botched kickoff can have the opposite effect, casting a shadow over the entire M&A project. On a more pragmatic level, teams leave good kickoff meetings informed, aligned, and with clarity regarding their roles, duties, and overarching end goals.

Accordingly, the kickoff plays a crucial role in enabling a team to operate in an Agile manner. At the broadest level, the kickoff meeting is meant to ensure that everyone involved in the M&A initiative shares a common understanding of the project and of their roles.


A note before you begin - especially if you’re working with less experienced participants:

  1. Explain the process; what types of people should be involved and what they should do.
  2. Then keep the conversation pretty high level, so as not to lose people/overwhelm them. Describing the process at a high level essentially means focusing on things such as: the first three things they need to do right away and what they need to do before the first meeting.


The entire project team, including all contributors, consultants, sponsors, and team leads. The deal lead drives the kickoff meeting. Representatives from the Corporate Development team and the deal PM play supporting roles as needed.


Moderate to Difficult


When it comes to materials for a kickoff meeting, tech tools are a critical topic of discussion. Selecting tech tools and choosing web-based collaborative software platforms can help teams realize the Agile goals of cross-functional visibility, collaborative workflow, and comprehensive information access. During due diligence, the choice of the data room will likely be out of the deal team’s hands, but the team can nevertheless establish internal project management and communication tools to use throughout the process. Using the same suite of tools in task tracking and communication throughout the entire M&A lifecycle alleviates many of the old headaches and obstacles associated with Excel and email and helps to transmit the information uncovered during due diligence to the integration effort.


90 minutes

Running the Play:


Overview of the target asset and strategy

Questions to be considered here include who is the target, what business is the target in, where is the target located, and why is this target important (what is the strategy and value behind this target; how will this target help you meet your goals)?

Learning about the target will help you understand what it can/cannot do well and tailor your process accordingly.


Name conditions for success

What specific goals and benchmarks need to be set and realized in order for this endeavor to be considered successful?


Identify challenges & risks

Name and discuss any challenges, risks, or concerns which have or have not already been identified.


Corporate Development presents on other relevant information

 Additional relevant information includes, but is not limited to:

  • Milestones, roles, and duties for due diligence (that is, who needs to do what, and by when)
  • Milestones, roles, and duties for integration planning
  • Who can communicate with the target asset and under what circumstances
  • How the deal team will work together (what tools will we use? How will we communicate? What plays will we run?)


Establish a cadence for meetings

Once you get a sense of how the other side works (and how quickly they work) you can establish a cadence for meetings, remembering to focus on meetings as needed, not meetings for the sake of meetings.


Additional Tips & Pointers For Running a Kickoff Meeting:

  • Scaling kickoff meetings: The kickoff meeting can be scaled down and run by small groups addressing sub-processes within a larger project. The small-scale kickoff is especially useful during post-merger integration when numerous small teams will be working on independent projects in parallel. Augmenting a team-wide integration kickoff meeting with smaller functional kickoffs allows alignment to simultaneously grow from both the bottom up and the top down.
  • Anti-patterns to avoid: Information silos and/or bottlenecks, inefficient information management, “expert only” involvement  in decision-making.