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M&A: Are you ready?

Fi Slaven | April 24, 2014
How you can gear up for the changes presented by a company acquisition or merger.

Mergers and acquisitions (M&A) are a key component of many firm's strategies as they open an avenue to increasing capabilities, improving competitive advantage or increasing market share in a relatively short period of time.

With every M&A activity, there is always a large change component and yet this is often the most undervalued or resourced. But if you can treat an M&A like a project, and complete your preparations on time, you can effectively manage change while also leveraging the opportunity to demonstrate strong and collaborative leadership.

The two largest components of any change management plan are people and communications. Involving people in the preparation activities and ensuring there is consistent, open and accurate information from the start will help demonstrate the approach to be used throughout.

It's also important to acknowledge people within and outside of your department are where you will spend a majority of your time. Commencing any process with openness and transparency will assist you in demonstrating people's value, identifying opportunities for development and change while also managing expectations along the way.

Having a communications plan does not mean a large, convoluted document. It does, however, mean a clear blueprint that identifies who in the firm is communicating what, how often, to whom and in what formats.

This is vital because as the M&A activity continues, communication will be vital. It's also essential in ensuring the messages are focused, consistent and directed at addressing that subjective question: 'What's in it for me".

To guarantee you have a firm and wide view of M&A decisions, you need to have a seat at the table. As a leader, this will ensure you have access to the strategy being undertaken, which you can then transform into activities for your department.

A great way of demonstrating the value of participation to your executive peers is by preparing a due diligence plan and checklist. You can build this with your team, which gains their involvement, socialises the concept of M&A and also allows you to manage expectations from the very start.

Once the draft plan and checklist has been assembled, engage other key stakeholders in the organisation for their input. This ensures their involvement, prevents items being missed, and highlights that your department is collaborative, ready and keen to be involved. Being involved from conception is a sure-fire way to success.

Another component of your change plan is to start reviewing your internal documentation, because you will need up-to-date information if you proceed to the due diligence stage. This can be daunting, because documentation always seems to be an issue.

Remember it does not have to be 'pretty', just accurate. Again, this is a way of involving and providing opportunities for your team, collaborating with other departments, identifying risks and normalising the concept of M&A.


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