There are countless books on how to effectively integrate two companies after an acquisition. Some stress “communication” while others put the emphasis on “culture”. While both concepts are important, neither is the key to integration success. In my experience, the single best thing you can do to ensure a smooth integration is to buy the right company.
This may seem self-evident, but in many cases the choice of target is the hidden source of endless integration problems. If you’ve bought the wrong company, no amount of force or ingenuity can squeeze a square peg into a round hole. “The right company” means a company that serves a single, well defined strategic purpose. Experience shows that integration is infinitely easier when the buyer and the seller are aligned on the strategic rationale for the combination. Throughout the entire acquisition process from market and prospect research through negotiations and due diligence, you have been looking for the characteristics, opportunities, resources, people and culture that will make an ideal fit with your own enterprise. Assuming you have done that right, it is reasonable to expect a relatively happy union.