Step 1: Define M&A Integration Strategy and Guiding Principles

The first step in an M&A integration is to achieve agreement among your executive team on strategy… the integration's direction, targets, risks, priorities, success metrics, assumptions, end states, non-negotiables, and to what extent the target company will be integrated. Integration matters more in some types of acquisitions than others, and it matters more in some functions than others, depending on the rationale behind the deal. At least two to three months before the deal closes, the integration strategy should be clarified. 

When M&A integration teams rush into planning without clarity from top management, they are likely to make the wrong assumptions, spin their wheels, and veer off on tangents. Before teams get rolling, they need clear objectives from above so they can proceed in the right direction and develop effective plans.

Senior executives should also agree on set of acquisition integration guiding principles that will serve as basis for decision-making and ensure integration teams act in alignment. 

In this section of the website, our presentations, books, and articles cover the strategies, best practices, and guiding principles that can help you achieve integration success.

Initial Decisions

Best Practices

M&A Integration Books

Smart Moves
Smart Moves: A Crash Course on Merger Integration Management

Smart Moves, by Price Pritchett, lays down the ground rules and the guiding principles that will improve your odds for integration success.


  • How to avoid the 50% drop-off in productivity that routinely occurs
  • Techniques for retaining key talent
  • Why you must cut the typical high-risk transition/integration period in half
  • Ways to minimize employee resistance
  • Why merger management should start before the deal is closed
  • How to handle the crucial task of “soft due diligence”
  • The true priorities that deserve your energy and attention
  • Why the first word in merger is “me” more extremely valuable coaching points designed to help you protect the “3 P’s”—productivity, people, and profits.