Paul J. Siegenthaler

Protecting the day-to-day business

To successfully manage the dual focus needed during an integration, one senior executive must be solely focused on the integration process, allowing the others to primarily concentrate on running the daily business.

Consultant, or “one of us” ?

One member of the company’s Executive team must be exclusively focused on the Integration and be accountable for its success. In most of the Client companies I work with, I am an interim member of the Executive team, perceived as a member of the organisation rather than an external consultant, with the clear remit of organising, driving and delivering the integration to achieve its business case.

How does this work in practice ?
Most business integration programmes impact a number of complex areas in which for the technical expertise, in-depth knowledge and benchmarks provided by external subject matter experts are needed to ensure the integration roadmap is sound, based on best practice, and capable of delivering real improvements in the new organisation. This is particularly true in domains such as pension funds, organisation design, remuneration and reward, systems integration, manufacturing footprint, large-scale relocations etc.

Furthermore, there will usually be a need to backfill the positions left vacant by the staff who have been seconded to the integration team; in many cases external temporary contractors will need to be called in to supplement scarce internal resources.

All of this adds complexity. Planning, coordinating and driving the integration effort using internal resources from both companies as well as external parties from possibly several consulting firms and external contractors requires focus and a good deal of experience. Many companies do not have a “spare” Executive they can delegate to this task, and they will therefore need to find a senior interim executive with the required skill set, competence, authority, gravitas, experience and successful track record. This person must act on behalf of the company, behave and be seen as one of the team, because profound change cannot be driven externally.

This is the role I take on, if asked to provide a Client with more than an initial steer or health-check of that Client’s integration programme.

My typical involvement

My support to companies undertaking a merger or major acquisition can take place at several points along the time-line, with a remit and for a duration which will depend on the client’s circumstances and needs :

Pre-M&A Education

This can be a one or two day course designed for senior executives and managers focused on how to organise and run an M&A integration. Typically, these courses are run with companies which are either considering a merger or acquisition in the foreseeable future, or are about to actually start the due diligence process. The content articulated around what I consider to be the three imperatives for a successful integration after good due diligence : speed, governance and leadership in change management. Such courses can be set up directly with the client company, or within the frame and broader input of a major business school. At present, I work with London School of Economics (LSE Enterprise), Manchester Business School, and HEC in Paris.

Pre-M&A Health Check

The “health check” provides a holistic and non-partisan view of a client’s preparedness shortly before the integration is about to commence. In some cases, it might also be aimed at recovering an integration programme which has run off the track. The analysis and diagnosis focuses on the quality of planning (and management of interdependencies), programme management processes (governance, issue management, risk management, stakeholder management), programme resourcing and environment, and change management (communication, training, change agents, user acceptance). Depending on the size and complexity of the business, the Health Check may require just a few days or extend over several weeks.

M&A Initial Steer : “First 100 Days”

The notional “100 days” would actually equate some 70 days before close and initial 30 days after Day One, to focus on the preparation of the integration as well as the setting up of the integration teams, environment, programme governance and preparation of communication. The objective of this initial steer, in companies that present fairly low levels of complexity and have sufficient senior management available to subsequently focus on the integration process, is to coach and flank the in-house team, provide the guidance and support needed to set up the programme correctly, and oversee the initial steps of the integration voyage with an orderly hand-over to in-house management.

Interim Integration Director

This is an interim role on the Client’s Executive team, accountable for the planning, preparation and execution of the integration. The scope and consequently the duration of the engagement depends on the Client’s circumstances and needs; typically from approximately six months to reach “one face to the customer”, to twelve months or more to achieve a fuller degree of integration of the organisation and its external interfaces. Full integration of the supply chain, manufacturing footprint and information systems & technology may well last beyond the initial 18 months but these will usually be led by their respective functions and will in most cases not require the continued involvement of an overarching Integration Director.

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