An efficient and typical M&A team structure for an integration consists of three different layers: a steering committee, an Integration Management Office (IMO), and a variety of task-force teams. Assuming that the appropriate people (in terms of personality, management ability, technical talent, and time to devote to the process) are assigned to these slots, the group is in a position to do a good job of integration management.

Typically, the steering committee is small, consisting of two to four individuals, all of whom are senior level people. The focus of this group is to provide direction to the integration effort as it relates to strategy and policy. While not committed full time to the process, this group should meet on a regularly scheduled basis to approve integration plans and review progress. If it is a true merger situation, the group may benefit from equally balanced representation from the two organizations. If it’s better defined as an acquisition situation, the steering committee may have a majority, or even all of its members, coming from the acquirer. But representation from both organizations helps ensure that key financial, operational, or cultural aspects are not overlooked during the integration process.

Executive sponsorship is critical to the success of the integration. As the integration moves forward, there will be resistance from both individuals and departments. This opposition may result from a conflict with some operating priority (“You’re interfering with our annual planning cycle.”) or protection of the status quo (“It’s always been done this way, and we don’t need to change it now.”). Senior level personnel who serve on the steering committee may be the only ones with the necessary clout to get past these obstacles. The steering committee will also need to act as the final decision point for resource allocation and prioritizing of the recommended initiatives.

The IMO ...