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A Guide To Post-Acquisition Strategy Planning
The timing may not be ideal to rethink your strategy after an acquisition, but it’s essential. This article explains why, and how to do it.
Two companies have become one and excitement, chaos, and challenges ensue. With a multitude of priorities competing for your attention after an acquisition, is it really necessary to revisit your strategic plan?
In a word, yes.
While the timing may not be ideal, it’s essential to rethink and update your strategy after an acquisition. Before we tell you how to go about that, here are a few reasons why post-acquisition strategy planning is so important.
- It helps create a single, strong company culture. Reviewing your plan—including development, execution, and reporting processes—as a unified team helps in abating the “us versus them” mentality. Employees from the acquired company will feel valued and included, while also bringing fresh perspectives to the strategy. This review also helps establish a cultural understanding between all parties and align the mission, vision, and goals.
- It formalizes ownership and responsibility. With new team members in executive and strategic positions, there’s a good chance the acquired company’s internal structure has changed. It’s smart to rethink who is responsible for specific goals, initiatives, and measures—this ensures everyone will be on the same page and creates a smoother transition.
- It accounts for the added value of the newly acquired organization. The company was acquired for a reason—did it bring new resources? New products or services? Any of these could be game changers for your strategy, and your plan needs to be updated accordingly.
Use this helpful guide to make sure your strategy review meetings are effective and a good use of everyone’s time.
Four Tips For Post-Acquisition Strategy Planning
1. Consider the timing and costs.
While we do recommend reviewing your strategic plan after an acquisition, that doesn’t mean it needs to happen as soon as the ink is dry on the merger. Don’t delay the process a year, but do think through the most beneficial timing over the short term. Do you have key strategic and executive leaders in place? Are there any major technology changes in progress? Do you have the funding to do a strategy review? Do you have a timeline to complete the review in an efficient and smooth manner?
These are the types of factors to consider before launching post-acquisition strategy planning. And remember that any plan changes and new processes will also take extra time, effort, and resources. You may already have a plan in place that justified the merger to begin with, so this step might not be as daunting as you think.
2. Conduct a SWOT analysis.
Merger and acquisition strategies always include a detailed report of the acquired company’s value and benefits to the buying company. After the acquisition is complete, you can take that report a step further and conduct a SWOT analysis.
When two companies become one, it’s critical to understand the strengths and weaknesses of both parties, and address new opportunities and threats that result from the acquisition. Are you able to enter a new market? Has your sales cycle become longer? Can you match up better to a competitor?
It’s important to collaborate on the SWOT analysis and make it part of your strategic planning process. This is another chance to eliminate divisiveness and get insight from new team members.
3. Don’t neglect important day-to-day processes.
While it’s important to revisit your high-level strategy, the specific projects and initiatives that the newly defined team will be working on are equally important. There will be chaos if nothing is determined about what’s happening on the ground after an acquisition.
During your strategic planning review, dive into the day-to-day initiatives and outline expectations, redefining individual roles if necessary. Walk through the more minute projects and steps to ensure they have an owner and execution team. For example, both organizations were doing sales prior to the merger, and now it’s important to get all teams on the same page as to how sales will operate as one organization.
If you’re using the Balanced Scorecard model, it’s easy to adjust the high-level strategy and specific daily tasks hand-in-hand. Strategies are tied to goals, which are tied to initiatives, and so on. The interconnected nature of the Balanced Scorecard makes it a useful framework, particularly for companies creating an acquisition integration strategy.
4. Aim for progress, not perfection.
Don’t expect everything to align perfectly during your post-acquisition strategic planning, because it won’t. There will be a period of trial and error as both parties adjust, reconcile expectations, and figure out new roles. The strategic planning process must be fluid and flexible in the early stages. While structure is important, be willing to adapt and work together to establish a new normal. You’ll come to a point where you simply need to launch the updated plan and course correct from there as needed. Keep your strategy in motion!
It’s important to be very transparent and communicative during the acquisition strategy planning process. Your goal is to be as collaborative as possible to ensure everyone’s bought in and clear on whatever changes you make to the strategy. There’s no doubt this is a challenging activity, but it’s critical to your new, bigger company’s success.