Bringing two companies together through an acquisition is a massive undertaking that requires a significant amount of research and planning and dedicated resources to make it happen. It is the culmination of months (or perhaps years) of dedication and hard work. Unfortunately, far too often, companies struggle with integration and poor integration can detract or destroy the value of a deal. Here is how to integrate an acquisition.
1. Think about WHY you are Buying the Company
If you are acquiring a company to leverage its strong brand name in the marketplace, you might want to think twice before changing its name to your own. On the other hand, if you are consolidating a competitor, bringing all operations under one roof might be the best strategy.
2. Identify Issues (and Opportunities) Early
Throughout the acquisition process, especially during due diligence, it’s helpful to think about how your two companies will operate after the deal closes. If the prospect operates from 8 AM – 5 PM, but your company operates from 9 AM – 6 PM, do you plan to ask employees to change their work schedule? Other issues to consider could be your benefit packages, dress code, telework policies, IT systems, etc. The fact is change, even good change, is hard, so it’s important to consider and plan it early on. It is possible to successfully integrate two very different companies if there is a strong strategic rationale and if you begin integration planning early to anticipate any potential challenges.
3. Work with Functional Leaders
Leaders from sales, marketing, accounting, finance, operations, IT, and other areas of your business will have a greater understanding of the day-to-day activity of their specific functional area. Be sure to get their input so you don’t overlook any significant areas in your integration plan. Also keep in mind that you do not have to have the same integration plan for all functional areas. As an example, you may choose to integrate finance, payroll and IT systems to your own, but keep sales and marketing teams operating separately.
4. Write It Down
Write down your integration plan so that all leaders are on the same page – literally – when it comes to what will happen post-closing. The simple act of consolidating all planning into one document will keep you organized and ensure everyone is onboard for the upcoming changes.
5. Communicate Clearly
Once you have your plan set, be sure to have a communication plan for distributing the correct information to employees, suppliers, customers, and any other relevant parties. You may hold a company-wide meeting, send out emails to suppliers and customers, or create a FAQ on your website. Anticipate questions and be prepared with answers. A clearly communicated integration plan is essential for providing a sense of security and will keep your newly merged company running smoothly. A word about delivering bad news. It’s much better to disseminate information that may have a negative impact directly to employees rather than allowing it to get passed on through rumors.
The closing of an acquisition is really the beginning of a journey as two companies are now joined together as one entity. Follow these tips for developing a successful integration plan to maximize your success.
Learn more! Join our webinar: Keys to Integration Success
Date: Wednesday, August 22
Time: 1:00 PM EST
CPE credit available.