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Mergers & Acquisitions: 10 Guiding Points for the Integration Team

by Enrico J. Termine, Ph.D., Termine Group, LLC, The Woodlands, TX (USA)

Integration starts NOW – well before the day you sign the purchase agreement. Be ready to communicate the entire integration plan and have a fully trained team in place with clear roles and responsibilities as early as possible.

1. Don’t lose momentum. Integration starts NOW – well BEFORE the day you sign the purchase agreement. Be ready to communicate the entire integration plan and have a fully trained team in place with clear roles and responsibilities. There is never enough time to prepare. The team should be assembled and working together weeks before closing day.

2. Put on your game face early. Get “Attitude”. On Day One, make decisions, effect change, and set goals swiftly and authoritatively. Never be indecisive. A ‘no-decision’ is worse than a bad decision. Publicly avoid the practice of taking “parallel approaches” or “fallback positions”. Exude a sense of ACTION.

3. Review pre-closing goals. It is very important to review all assumptions made during the acquisition phase and correlate them to actual facts found within the new organization. Clearly and concisely set an expectation that the team will realize ALL financial assumptions and strategic reasons for the acquisition within six months.

4. Quickly understand the “in-place” business plan and business process. Never assume the present process is a wrong process, nor jump to change to a “my company-way” without good reason. If you can’t make it better, don’t change it.

5. Communication is critical. Go out of your way to over-communicate. Redundancy is a good virtue for an integration team. Appoint a person whose sole responsibility is to communicate. Be honest. Don’t try to be clever or mysterious. Talk openly. Immediately do whatever is necessary to assure customers, suppliers, distributors and employees that business will be conducted without disruption. Be available – everyone on the integration team must be on call on a 24/7 basis.

6. Build the sense of TEAM. Require everyone to use expressions of speech that show unity. No ‘we versus them’, ‘my way and your way’, etc. There is only OUR way – preferably only OUR NEW and IMPROVED way.

7. Set a clear management structure and line of authority. Make difficult decisions early to dismiss senior management, if appropriate. Do not “tolerate” an incumbent manager because “it is just a matter of time before he will be cut anyway”. Consider promoting subordinates to positions of greater responsibility quickly. This could bring out the best talents of people.

8. Convene best integration team possible. Avoid selecting people just because they are familiar with the terms of the acquisition. The best team members are those who will have an on-going role or responsibility in the new business area– and have no hidden personal agenda. Integration team members must devote their undivided attention to the task. Do not tolerate distractions from previous commitments. Draw the line – ‘thou shall only work on the integration effort!’

9. Divide action plans into short-term, medium-term, and long-term phases. Short-term actions are completed within 30 to 45 days. Medium-term actions are completed within 6-12 months. The long term is twelve months and beyond. Remember that the integration period is completed only when the new business in operating independently or as a part of an existing business unit.

10. Last, but not least… keep everyone focused on the customer.

Termine Group, L.L.C is an international management consulting firm specializing in strategic development in the chemical and Energy industries. Dr. Termine, founder and managing partner of Termine Group, L.L.C., is accomplished in the field of mergers and acquisitions, having completed several multi-million dollar deals.

For more information visit the Termine Group Web site at: www.terminegroup.com. Contact: ric@termine.com, 225.408.1995