Integration strategy and transaction strategy are not the same
In order to address the specific challenges of a transaction, the integration strategy must be customized and this must be done early. It is important to realize that the integration strategy and the transaction strategy (deal rationale) are not the same.
The integration strategy defines how the deal rationale will ultimately be achieved. It transfers the ideas about the business model (including market, customers, channels, products, price, competition) to the operating model of the companies to be integrated (including, e.g., management, people, processes, organization, infrastructure). Therefore, it is about choosing a playing field, but also about how to win on that field. And this “how” can vary widely depending, for example,, on whether a fast-growing, emotionally appealing brand, a technology or a complementary product is being acquired.
The sooner companies start planning their integration strategy and the more clearly the strategy is defined in a strategic integration blueprint, the more goal-oriented the post-merger integration phase.
The blueprint is an essential bridge between the transaction strategy and the operational integration. It establishes a basic model for implementation in three dimensions:
- The first dimension is located at the level of the strategy and business model and is closely connected with the transaction strategy that is pursued and operationalized for the integration. The topic of revenue synergies is particularly important here. “What is my strategic ambition and my deal rationale?”, “What are my target markets, products and brands?”, “How do we join forces to acquire additional customers?” and “What guiding principles arise for the operating model of the integrated company?”
- The second dimension is more removed from the business model and revenue generation and focuses more closely on the operating model and the employees of a company. While markets, products and customers are analyzed in the first dimension, the second dimension looks at the cogs of the machine. It is about building a clear architecture with firm pillars. It considers employees, processes and structures: “Who will be the key figures in the new company?”, “What are the core processes and necessary adaptations?“ or “How must the integrated organization be controlled and structured to ensure that the strategic objectives are met?”
- The third dimension targets the actual integration and involves defining the basic architecture of the project. It addresses questions such as “How must the integration project be managed, controlled and structured in order to be successful?”, “What is the best team make-up and who is the designated integration manager?” and “What are the activities along the critical path?”
Crucially, the mapping out of guidelines at an early stage in the acquisition process does not have to be at the expense of flexibility. On the contrary: thanks to a thorough examination conducted at an early stage, the correct integration strategy can enhance flexibility in numerous areas, in particular in an uncertain and volatile environment.