No Need to Lose Money with an Acquisition!
By Rudi Scheiber-Kurtz, CEO of Next Stage Solutions, Inc.
We know that Post Merger Integrations (PMI) never grab big headlines, yet the PMI phase is a critical element to the overall success of any acquisition and therefore needs to be on Management’s agenda long before consummating the merger.
Merger & Acquisition activities will continue to be strong and move at a rapid pace. In 2014, there were over 40,000 deals announced in the US and this year will most likely match it as well. Many of these deals also bring challenges and high risk to the acquirer. What can we learn from past failures and how can we get a clear understanding of which factors can impact an integration negatively?
According to a Deloitte Integration Report in 2015, a survey with over 800 executives sharing their post-merger success stories, almost 30% responded that their integration fell short.
Empirical data and predictable risk factors are often ignored by executives in developing an acquisition strategy. Successful companies have a clear understanding of which factors can impact the merged organization, assess the likely causes for potential failure, and focus intensely on their elimination throughout the process. By identifying them before completing the deal, you can realize the Maximum VALUE of the Merger.
Based on our experience, the three most overlooked areas and those which executives say they would approach differently in the next M&A event, are as follows:
- Under budgeting the integration process
Properly plan for the PMI from the beginning. Clearly outline the phases, properly budget the event, and thoroughly review the process at the outset. Ideally, an Integration Champion or Team should be appointed to oversee the entire process from the beginning of negotiations through the end. Additionally, it would be most beneficial to have Integration Managers who work closely with the Integration team in implementing all elements.
- Lack of Communications
No one likes uncertainty. The key is to strike a balance between budget, time, team size, and level of expertise. Appoint a Communications Champion responsible to Management who can lead the entire process. In a PMI, employees will either lose their jobs or their functions will change. It is essential the Champion and Management communicate the Integration Process to all employees of both organizations. It is generally agreed that town hall meetings are more effective than emails.
- Lack of Back Office Support
The back office offers large amount of value capture if planned and executed properly. It is also the backbone of a successful integration. IT, Finance and HR are consistently undervalued in planning a transaction of this magnitude.
The interdependency of these back office support systems is critical to the overall success of the deal. Frequently cost synergies of a transaction come from eliminating duplicate functions making back office support the number one source of cost savings. Therefore it is important to understand that reliance on staff that will be made redundant at the end of the process, is a risk that needs to be mitigated at the beginning of the process. Financial rewards for successful completion of the integration can often overcome a reluctance to assist.
IT in particular is not a priority to most Executives, when in fact; adopting a one-system integration (ERP and CRM) will be a crucial outcome in how you bring transparency to the new entity. Real- Time Information flow to all decision makers is the true measure of a successful merger. Evaluate what systems are available to each business unit and choose the best and most optimal way to support the business. Estimate the resources you will need to successfully integrate the systems, including training and educating of staff. It is all about execution and achieving desired results.
Financial rigor with strong financial reports and KPIs are extremely important in order to measure and validate the true value of the merger. Track all activities over a specified timeline. Poor financials are often blamed for the failure of merger activities, rather than poor planning and execution of the integration process. Assure that you have both in place.
HR is the other back office support that often gets ignored. Have strong HR capabilities that can manage the talent retention of critical assets, and assist in developing plans to address staff redundancies. This process has to begin very early on to ensure that you retain key talent. Especially when operating in new markets, states or countries, retention of local intellectual capital is imperative.
By focusing on these three Most Overlooked Aspects of a Merger, you can avoid losing money at the point of integration. Plan and budget accordingly; in doing so, you will have a better success rate than the average merger. So go and change the statistics!
Need help along the way? NSS has participated in numerous PMIs combining finance, operations and IT to assure seamless integrations for our clients.
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