Speed of merger integration

There has been a lot of literature on speed of merger integration. Some say high speed is key, some say high speed is not always the solution. As usual, it is not easy to give general statements. I would like to propose a new view on integration speed that will help you to best select the speed for certain integration activities.

My key points on merger integration speed

Merger integration Complexity impacts speed

Speed is one thing, workload is the other. Even if you compromise on results quality for speed by targeting a "good enough" integration, you still have to cope with the workload of the integration. Higher complexity might force lower speed, lower complexity enables higher speed.

See my effort and complexity considerations for help.

Merger integration ability impacts speed

The acquirer´s ability to execute merger integration impacts speed. Ability  can be measured by organizational maturity, which is measured in three dimensions: M&A experience, number of corporate functions existing and number of dedicated M&A personnel. See my book for more information. Less maturity forces lower speed, higher maturity enables higher speed.

A differentiated view on speed for different activities

Let us have a a look at speed in different integration activities and see the impact

  • Financial integration and speed

usually a high speed activity for a good reason: the acquirer wants to take control of financials. This can be done via organizational measures, like appointing a new CFO for the target,  change of financial processes and application systems and via legal entity integration.

Dependencies between actitivies and speed

Here are some dependencies between different merger integration activities and their impact on merger integration speed:
  • Legal entity integration schedule impacts speed.

You cannot integration what you cannot integrate. In many companies the schedule of legal entity integration determines the takt of other integration activities. Slow legal entity integration speed means slower overall integration speed.

See my book for more information.

  • Compliance considerations impact speed.

Compliance to bookkeeping and other standards needs preparation. Going from few to many compliance requirements takes time. The more difference in compliance requirements between target and acquirer, the more time might be needed.

  • Resistance of people impacts speed.

Now this is tricky. Resistance to change can exist. Resistance might increase over time and get harder to overcome. High speed of integration reduces the risk. Slow speed increases the risk of additional resistance.

  • Behavior of executives impacts speed.

Employees need orientation in times of fear, uncertainty, doubt. There may be up to thousands of integration-related decisions to be taken. Executive engagement and drive is paramount for speed. The more engaged executives are, the more speed the integration can have.
See my book for more information.

Similarity of target and acquirer and speed

Similarity comes in three dimensions: organizational, business model and operations model similarity and has an impact on merger integration speed as follows:

  • Similarity of organizations enables higher speed

the more similar organizations are, the higher the speed of integration can be. but there is a caveat: more similarity might also mean more overlap and redundancy between organization, which creates more complexity and probably slower speed.

  • Similarity of business models enables higher speed

the more similar business models are, the better the operations of these business models can be integrated. This enables higher speed. The reverse is also true. If business models are significantly different, this might impose slower speed of integration.
  • Similarity of operations models enables higher speed

How a business operates is a key thing to understand and to integrate a business. the closer an operational model is, the higher the speed of integration can be.
See my book for more information.


(C) Dr. Karl Popp 2015-2018