Why getting the deal done is just the beginning

James Groot, Cortus

James Groot is corporate advisory partner at Cortus Advisory Group

Something we often see after an acquiror has found the right target and successfully completed their deal, is they turn their attention to the best way of realising the value they set out to achieve?

One word: integration.

Integration is how you bring your existing business and the acquired business together. There is no ‘rule of thumb’ to a successful integration but instead it encompasses a series of choices for your business – from deciding which parts you want to integrate, to when you want to implement that integration.

Integration differs from other change programmes you might have undertaken – this is event driven. The deal has been announced – your employees, customers, and stakeholders of both your existing business and the acquired business know the deal has taken place and are anticipating change. Saying nothing and doing nothing in the first 100 days post deal creates uncertainty which often leads to disruption. From day one there will an expectation of action, which will grow into pressure if not delivered robustly.

So, why can integrations become difficult? Because they involve people who are second-guessing your next steps. Getting the people strategy right is at the heart of any integration. Actively engaging with employees early on addresses the uncertainty. Seek to understand the cultural differences between your two businesses and consider how you want to address those differences throughout the integration.

Our top 5 tips for thinking about your integration are as follows:

  1. It is never too soon to start thinking about synergies and integration. Ideally, start pre-signing.
  2. Use the period between deal sign and deal close (if you have that luxury) to start your integration planning.
  3. Plan for Day One – don’t just think about what you need to do to take control but put real thought and effort into what you intend to say and to who. Identify your key stakeholders and where they sit across both businesses. How will you welcome the new business into your own? First impressions count.
  4. Mobilise an integration team to prioritise and focus on the project – this is not a ‘business as usual’ activity.
  5. Monitor your progress. How can you ensure the integration is delivering the strategic aims and objectives of the deal if you don’t measure your progress? If you uncover objectives which aren’t being fully met, then realign and refocus your efforts and try again.

We see the initial, pre-deal integration planning workshop to be an important first step. It’s amazing how much you can cover in the space of a few hours with us.

Contact Lizzie Meadowcroft, our dedicated Synergies, Integration & Separation Partner to find out more about how our approach will support you to align stakeholders around the integration vision, accelerate your integration planning, and focus on taking control from day one.