Answers to 8 common FAQs about integration planning such as:

When should the M&A integration planning process start? 

Planning should start two to three months before close or when the letter of intent is signed, whichever is earlier. It is difficult to deliver a smooth, effective Day 1 and achieve quick successes in the first 30 days without adequate pre-close planning. Starting the planning process early creates the momentum to integrate after close.  

What is the first step in integration planning?

During the initial step, executives agree on the integration's strategy, guiding principles, objectives, assumptions, and non-negotiables. The integration plans will draft of the direction set by senior management so there should be early discussions to identify and resolve divergent opinions.

What are the key elements in an M&A integration plan?

Integration plans should always include these elements:

  • End States - Integration complete" should be defined. If it isn’t, teams will feel like they are in a race without a finish line.
  • Governance - Determine the integration hierarchy, decision-making protocols, and escalation routes so problems requiring senior-level input can be quickly addressed and resolved.
  • Communications - Planning communications in M&A takes much more effort than it does under more stable circumstances.
  • Tasks - Each task in a team’s plan should have an assigned owner and start and completion dates.
  • Cross-Functional Dependencies – The activitites of different teams can not be put in the proper order unless dependencies are identified.
  • Early Wins - Acquirers can help silence the skeptics by achieving goals that provide hard evidence the merger is rapidly bringing benefits.

What is a post-merger integration end state?

The end state is the point at which the integration teams will disband. When teams struggle to complete their plans, it is often because their end states have not been determined. They do not know what they are integrating to. There is no defined finish line ...

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