Forces Shaping The Future of M&A Integration

Mergers and acquisitions (“M&A”) can spark a sense of excitement and urgency in companies. The work after closing the deal offers an opportunity for employees in the integration team to expand their role beyond their day-to-day work. Employees from both companies have to work together to achieve a common goal, seamless integration of two businesses into one. Executive expectations for a smooth and fast integration remain high, while trends are forcing a change in the M&A integration process. With the traditional workspace changing, technology continuing to progress, increased specialization amongst employees, and the expectation of more active integration management, companies have to be prepared to embrace these driving forces in the M&A space.

Strategic Integration Management

Acquisitions achieve their full success when the integration realizes the deal value in a timely manner. In a desire to validate the strategic acquisition, companies are seeking immediate value from these deals and top-down management is instrumental to driving results. To reach these goals, integration workstreams must collaborate and avoid working in silos. Strategic direction from the Integration Management Office (“IMO”) ensures workstreams maintain open communication and drives the company into a sustainable growth period. This requires IMO leaders to provide insight and guidance as well as take on the additional role as mentor to those involved.

Distributed Teams

M&A integration teams come from diverse functions that may operate at disparate locations. The buyer, seller, and respective functional teams such as finance, HR, operations, sales, marketing, and IT may work from different geographies. The hybrid working trend has been gaining ground since the late 90s, and accelerated in recent years. In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, companies quickly shifted to a hybrid or utterly virtual work environment. With decentralized M&A integration teams comes the need for technology that can take the place of in-person communication, whether that be software for virtual meetings or a quick way to receive up-to-the-minute updates from colleagues that M&A integration projects require.

Rise in Integration Specialization

One of the main goals of an acquisition is to gain the maximum value possible from the acquired asset. Out of the desire to fulfill that goal, experts in the integration process have emerged. Some of these specialists work in a consulting capacity, and others have dual roles within a company, offering guidance along with their original responsibilities. Utilizing the experts, in a process that can be long and messy, can assist in maintaining the focus on maximizing value and ushering the project to fruition in a methodical manner.

Advancement of Technology

The traditional model for managing integration projects consists of vast spreadsheets with miles worth of scrolling and hundreds of cells, drafting and updating slides, and holding status meetings and touchpoints. Sadly, for most IMOs, this is the only path to collaboration. Management software that offers sleek layouts and tools to simplify tasks that require a joint effort has yet to make its way into the mainstream. We have accepted software and apps that seek to streamline our tasks in other facets of life, so why not do the same here? Shifting to a new method may seem daunting, but the possibilities of more efficient and less painful integration seem worth the leap.

Embrace the Change

Staying ahead of the curve requires breaking the status quo and a willingness to step outside of one’s comfort zone. By assessing their integration process and finding space for progress, companies open themselves up to achieving their goals in a capacity previously unthought of while simplifying tasks for employees and allowing them to take an active role in their work. A new day is dawning for M&A integration work, but the change will only come for those who seek it out.



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