Integration and separation

When should integration planning begin?

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The deal process can be long and complex, taking months or even years. But the sigh of relief doesn’t come once it’s officially declared ‘closed’ because in reality, it’s just the beginning.  

Integration planning is critical to the success of your deal. From day one—the day of closing—it’s about people embracing change as businesses unite. This means sustaining a healthy culture, keeping teams productive, and effective communication—all helping you to retain key talent and morale. Uncertainty creates instability, which is why a well-organized integration plan will reduce panic, anxiety, and worry. There is no “do-over” for day one. Stumbling through it (or remaining silent) will send catastrophic shockwaves through your business without clearly defined direction. Operations will suffer and people will walk.  

Consider this one time-tested principle: the maximum velocity required to sustain an integration happens on day one, when people from the acquired and target organizations are anticipating change. Often, there is nervous energy across both organizations and that should be harnessed for greater efficiency. 

To capture necessary momentum, the standard for day one is to develop an integration blueprint, including a high-level timeline, identification of critical integration activities, assignment of teams, and an overarching governance process. Additionally, a blueprint overview should be presented at a townhall meeting with internal stakeholders to create alignment, gain understanding, and increase confidence in the plan. 

Let’s look at different day one scenarios below: 

  • Scenario A: You hold a townhall meeting with all your new and existing employees, but no clear direction is shared on what to expect in the next few months. This could cause everyone to think, “They don’t have a clue! There’s no plan, we’re in trouble. I’m not staying for this train wreck!” 
  • Scenario B: You hold a townhall meeting where you clearly explain why a business was acquired, provide a high-level overview of what employees from both organizations will do to compare processes, identify leading practices, further validate synergies, and develop a detailed integration plan as to how the two organizations will come together. Your employees could have some relief, concluding that you have a plan, which provides a level of assurance.  

Integration planning should begin as soon as possible and be a priority. This can occur during the due diligence process but should be no later than the signing of the letter of intent. The volatility of the current market makes the case for this timing even stronger because unemployment is low, employees are quick to jump, and there’s little tolerance for disorganization.  

We can help 

Integration planning doesn’t need to be complicated or overwhelming. Our team of strategic advisors can support you through the diligence phase and the successful rapid integration of a business confidently. Reach out to us today.