As more companies flock toward mergers and acquisitions, many are learning what strategies can make or break the deal. After the buzz and excitement of an M&A announcement fades, the reality of the business plan sets in. Companies might think they need to clear the initial hurdles of reorganization before they can think about project management, but on the contrary, project management is even more essential during – and better yet, in advance of an M&A. In KPMG’s 2016 M&A Outlook Survey, having a “well-executed integration plan” was the most important aspect for survey respondents when asked what factors lead to deal success. By establishing this integration plan through a combination of business analysis and project management, both employees and stakeholders can align on objectives and expectations.
Project management training is essential for M&As for the following reasons:
- The M&A itself is one big project. A merger or acquisition is essentially a deal with beginning and end – similar to the scope of a project. Project management best practices should be applied at the beginning of an M&A in order to establish a plan and timelines which can be continuously communicated to employees.
- M&As by their very nature generate projects – and a lot of them. A single integration program can encompass up to 1,000 projects and last two to three years. Proper training can ensure that leaders are equipped to decide which projects to take on and which to delay or pass on.
- Culture doesn’t change overnight. There is no quick fix for merging cultures after an M&A; rather, establishing an organizational culture is something that develops and evolves through the way a company prepares for change and challenges, and how it communicates and executes its integration plan.
The dos and don’ts of M&A change management:
- DO: Define a clear vision and specific goals
Change incites fear and uncertainty and is perceived as a risky business undertaking. Business analysts (BAs) can help define the purpose and reasons for an organizational change or M&A while providing a specific direction and focus for employees.
- DO: Provide consistent leadership and constant and clear communication
Transparency is crucial in order to dispel the rumor mill. When employees have consistent leadership with an aligned message, they’ll know who to listen to and believe.
- DON’T: Wait until the papers are signed before doing your homework
The BA process is directly tied to due diligence. This is a chance to assess both the risks and opportunities of an M&A before embarking on any integration.
- DON’T: Make decisions from the top down
Employees will have greater trust in the M&A process if their opinions are sought, listened to and valued. Encouraging input and strategic thought at all levels will boost morale and promote a culture of respect and collaboration.
An M&A can essentially be viewed as a new relationship. As with any new relationship, it takes time for the people involved to get to know one another, build a level of trust and loyalty, and ultimately be in sync. But with constant communication, the ability to accept and adapt to feedback, the expectation that there will be obstacles to overcome, and a combination of relational and practical skills – all important facets of project management – an M&A can be a successful business relationship for all stakeholders.
TwentyEighty Strategy Execution is a global leader in organizational training addressing the inherently volatile and complex business environment that now requires a more holistic and adaptive approach to managing projects. We enable people to close the strategy execution gap and drive higher organizational performance by strengthening project leadership skills. By combining the best of cutting-edge university research and proven business techniques, we deliver training designed to increase alignment and engagement across teams, business units, or the entire enterprise. Learn more today at strategyex.com. Join the conversation on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook.