Integrated Business Planning

08 April 2016

When two businesses are brought together through a merger or acquisition, central to the success and combined potential of the new entity is an effective and realistic Integrated Business Plan.

This begins from the very top of organisations where leaders need to develop and define a unified purpose, set of values and strategy that can be implemented for the combined group from day one.

Planning and preparation

Do you know what the goals of the new combined entity are? What is the timeframe for meeting these goals? Advanced, realistic planning and preparation prior to the period of transition will pay dividends once the process is underway. Seek early agreement on what the goals are during an agreed integration timeframe, but be cautious not to allow integration process and activities to take over the successful running of day-to-day operations of the business. There must be a balanced management plan to address and mitigate conflicting demands, activities and processes.

Integration stakeholder groups and communication

There will be multiple levels of stakeholder involvement in integrated business planning activities. Identifying the appropriate stakeholder groups and what the communications plan will be is an early priority. This would detail what messages need to be delivered to
particular stakeholder groups and when. A good communications plan will include initial and regular communication often starting in the pre-integration transaction stage – and carrying through to all stages or milestones in the integration process.

Establish an integration team

As with any change management project, establishing an integration team to disseminate ownership of tasks, accountability and responsibility is very important. A well balanced team built with leaders from both organisations will avoid creating a “them and us” culture, and will promote credibility, visibility and consistency. Where there is an imbalance in numbers of leaders from either organisation, pair up an experienced leader with a step-up leader.

This not only creates joint-ownership, but begins to develop key functional relationships and knowledge transfer between the two organisations.

Project and workflow

What are the priorities for integration and what is the timeframe? Set these expectations from the outset by developing a robust but realistic project plan and workflow process. Define a schedule and clearly map out objectives, tasks, deliverables, accountability, milestones, dependencies and interdependencies. Appoint relevant team leaders for particular workflows and involve them from the outset to identify quick wins and create champions. Visibility and transparency throughout the integration team are vital here.

Immediate key considerations

A well thought-through plan will deliver business integration objectives, but what are the key considerations that need to be addressed from the outset? These are often people-based and may include awareness and definition of cultural differences between each organisation. Addressing this early on allows it to link back to the shared
values to be implemented from the outset. Another key people area may be how the new organisational design might look and to what extent change is required. Central to these people based considerations is communication. The communications plan along with a system for two-way dialogue needs to be robust and comprehensive enough to handle this whilst providing answers and understanding to major concerns, objectives, purpose, values, vision and strategy.

The management consulting team at Anderson Anderson and Brown LLP (AAB) have extensive management consulting and corporate finance expertise which can assist clients with integrated business planning. For more information, please contact Alasdair on +44 (0)1224 625111 or at alasdair.green@aab.uk

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