Too many companies make the mistake of separating the major phases of a merger or acquisition (for example, due diligence, negotiation, agreement, integration, etc.) when in fact the phases are all part of one process.  

The particular timing of these phases will vary from situation to situation, but the relative timing is not the point here. Integration cannot be divorced from any of the other phases and should not be treated as though it can be. Even in due diligence, there are important analyses and decisions being made that have an impact on the integration. The success of a deal is usually predicated on being able to carry out certain integration actions. 

Whether it is the consolidation of facilities in a particular region, the transfer of technologies needed to get a new product to market, or the enhancement of margins through increased purchasing power, these objectives need to be well- documented from the outset. This helps create a common thread throughout all the major phases, and that is an important step in preparing for the management challenges to come...