Creating added value after the merger: finding and applying synergy effects
To benefit from each other and to grow together successfully – these are the most important points in a company integration and I can confirm that as a PMI manager (post-merger integration) at an IT system house group that follows a buy and build strategy. I can also report here from practice about the prerequisites for successful integration.
Various criteria are checked during the purchase process, which lead to a purchase decision – but these are not discussed in detail here. We start with the purchase decision that has already been made. According to this, certain preparatory work, which goes beyond due diligence in the SME sector, can promote a structured and as noiseless integration as possible even before the integration. Well-coordinated communication plans internally and externally, considerations for the rapid realization of cross-selling potential, optimizations in supplier and partner management as well as administrative mergers in the non-operational area are important aspects of the merger, in addition to the rapid enabling of a group-wide exchange.
It is particularly important to us that we give the new group company quick access to additional technical skills. This sounds obvious, logical and simple, but requires well-structured preparation. Therefore, the definition of a clear process flow is a necessity when implementing synergy enhancement in order to create successful interaction between those involved.
This process can be wonderfully combined with the overarching goal of integration: the successful merging of two companies. But how exactly can the two positive effects “synergy increase” and “merging” be combined in a meaningful way?
Our experience has shown that synergies can only be successfully leveraged if the mission and goal are clearly defined and a team passionately pursues this mission. We differentiate between standard synergies and new effects.
The standards can be structured well in advance in a synergy portfolio. Examples of a standard synergy in the administrative area would be the integration of the new company into the cheaper group contracts such as insurance, occupational safety and fleet management. Furthermore, this includes tasks that may not belong to the core business of the purchased company and can also be covered by the group, such as certain activities in HR, finance and marketing. Since these synergies are fixed from the start, they can easily be built into the standard PMI process.
The situation is different with the new effects, which have to be discovered first. This process already begins in the due diligence phase, in which information from the purchase process, social media and, of course, personal discussions are used. The standard synergy portfolio can then be supplemented with these potential synergies.
Answering the following questions offers a non-exhaustive selection:
It helps to ask the acquired company which customer inquiries they are currently unable to service and which processes they use to improve. This should be addressed openly, also in order to be able to quickly generate the added value of belonging to a group.
A skills database makes it possible to achieve even more efficient matching of projects and qualified employees.
At the beginning of the integration, it is important to verify the synergy ideas in a synergy workshop and to discuss the further procedure. It is important that employees from both companies take part. This meeting is best divided into two parts. In the first part of the workshop, it should be clarified which collected points actually represent a synergy and whether an implementation makes sense. The easiest way to do this is to use the supplemented synergy portfolio as a kind of checklist that decides whether implementation makes sense.
The second half of the meeting is then about precise planning. First, the effort and effect for the lift is determined and a priority is assigned to this synergy. Another important point is which team should be responsible for the implementation and who takes the lead within it. It should also be determined which projects have a quick win situation. In our experience, quick wins can be raised in the first integration phase, which we consider to be around 3 months. Other topics should also be tracked – a person responsible for this should be appointed. This can be a PMI or project manager or another management capacity.
The project participants should be from both companies in order to promote getting to know each other and growing together through working together. This project work will create a sense of belonging in the new employees – a sense of togetherness – and convey the advantages of the group of companies through discussions with those who have belonged to them for a longer period of time.
Commitment can be generated through progress – this is where projects to leverage synergies come in handy. By working together, it is possible to create a momentum that strengthens the sense of belonging in the long term. After the project work, the employees continue to maintain the contact they have made themselves and know who their contact person is for which topic.
For larger issues, implementation begins with a kick-off meeting to discuss the exact schedule and set the appropriate milestones. However, it is important to keep everything lean, because too many meetings quickly affect productivity and also generally lead to resentment.
All projects that have a high priority are started in the PMI phase transparently for all those responsible, tracked and then handed over to the appropriate areas for successful implementation. The only exception here are the synergies with a quick win.
For the motivation of the teams it is important to see the successes and to praise them. Celebrating milestones that have been reached can also make sense. In any case, success controlling should take place.
If the product portfolio expands as a result of the projects, it is important that the new offers are presented to customers in a visible way. In addition to a personal conversation with the customer, you can choose your own homepage or social media channels.
In summary it can be stated:
1. Collect and verify possible synergies
2. Prioritize verified synergies and set up a project for the most important ones
3. The selected employees (from both companies) grow together to form a team
When synergies are leveraged, it is therefore possible for the two companies to grow together successfully through cross-company projects.
More about the acquisition of IT system houses:
System house group from Essen continues to buy
The right time to sell the company
Why investment companies find IT system houses attractive
When a system house group grows to over 300 employees
All under one fire