The Six Keys to Post-Merger Integration

Jan 24, 2020

In the never-ending quest to create shareholder value, corporate officers and executives in the C-Suite may find it increasingly attractive to pursue mergers or similar corporate actions. Combining two companies can create some significant synergies—even if there is some uncertainty immediately after the merger. Using a post-merger integration checklist can aid with obtaining these benefits.

Critically, however, these synergies are not guaranteed. Even if a merger makes sense on paper, post-merger integration can be more challenging than anticipated. When these challenges emerge, critical stakeholders within the new company must act quickly to address them head-on.

Having been through around 30 mergers and acquisitions, I have seen some of these challenges myself. Analyzing all of these experiences, I’m happy to present a post-merger integration checklist that you can refer to when navigating your corporate merger. In this checklist, you will find six key things to look for when navigating a post-merger integration. Whether you are going through a small or large merger, paying attention to these six post-merger integration factors can maximize your odds of success

The Post-Merger Integration Checklist: Six Keys to Success

Put a Leader at the Helm

The first item on the post-merger integration checklist involves leadership. Specifically, you will need a full-time leader to run the integration. Combining two different organizations—especially if they are large—is a job in and of itself. Expecting both organizations to organically “figure it out” is a recipe for disaster. But by appointing a capable leader to take active ownership over the integration, the integration process proceeds much more smoothly.

I saw this first-hand. Working at Dell on numerous integrations, we appointed a vice president for a more substantial acquisition and a director for a smaller one. Their full-time role centered on managing the entire process from due diligence, to day-one readiness, to the fulfillment of synergies. While there were inevitable growing pains, having an executive whose sole job was to run the integration made life much easier for us.

The M&A Playbook is Key to Synergy Realization

Next, during the post-merger integration, you will want to create and use an M&A playbook. My colleagues and I found an M&A playbook to be essential as we navigated the post-merger integration process. When creating this playbook, we tried to use our prior experience navigating mergers and the expertise of our competitors. From there, we built checklists so that the integration team could ensure consistency throughout the organization. The more thorough the playbook, the better. Ultimately, the process of creating the playbook and following it can help you, and your colleagues avoid unforced errors throughout the post-merger integration process.

Culture is Often Taken for Granted

Third, don’t forget that it’s all about culture. Any corporate reorganization is jarring, but a merger can be especially harsh. Two different organizations coming together can lead to some internal strife and cultural inconsistencies. These inconsistencies can create internal stress, and in some cases, may convince critical employees to leave. While cultural clashes aren’t solved immediately, keeping culture at the top of the mind can help make the integration much more manageable.

Technology is Core to Success

Next, recognize that technology is not an outlier. In fact, it is a core component of integration. Without properly integrating software and other technological systems, the newly-merged company will experience persistent technical issues. Therefore, make sure that your full-time integration leader and your checklists account for the challenges of integrating technology. It is a big job and requires a significant amount of your attention.

Communicate, Communicate, Communicate

Fifth, ensure that there is seamless communication between both combining companies. A merger is the commencement of a new relationship, and because of this, the communication channels need to be open. It seems self-evident, but it is all too familiar for leaders in both organizations to keep facts close to their chest or not share information that needs to be shared. That is a recipe for a failed integration.

Analytics and Scorecards are Key to the Post-Merger Integration Checklist

Finally, create and leverage a scorecard. By this, I mean it is useful to publish results on how the integration is going (including current problems or challenges you are facing). It keeps all key actors honest and helps identify issues in the integration process. Along with this, sharing the scorecard in regular updates with critical executives can keep everyone on the same page. This transparency keeps everyone honest and helps direct executives’ attention to the most pressing problems of the integration.

Ensuring a Smooth Post-Merger Integration

This post-merger integration checklist can substantially decrease the odds of encountering many troublesome issues after a merger. Whether you are in the C-suite or are a high ranking manager at either company, keeping this checklist in mind can make the post-merger integration process much more manageable. By seamlessly navigating the integration, you and your new partners can create even more value for your customers.

To learn more about Ovesto and our Merger and Acquisition services, click here.

Key to Post Merger Integration


John R. Miles on Keys to Post Merger Integration

John R. Miles is a Navy veteran and the founder and CEO of OVESTO, the leading provider of on-demand executive staffing. OVESTO provides transformational leaders for fractional, interim or project assignments. Miles is widely viewed as an expert on post merger integration, problem solving, and business transformation. He is a highly sought after speaker, consultant, and writer. Miles has significant business experience a Fortune 50 CIO, ASX 10 CISO, and seasoned private equity leader in CEO and COO roles across several diverse industries. He started his career with Booz Allen and Arthur Andersen.


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