PMI preparation should start on day 1. Think of a merger like marriage. You start dating, to get to know the person (due diligence), and after proper due diligence you propose the merger (engagement), then prepare the more detailed plans necessary to for closing (wedding).
If we start thinking about PMI after “getting engaged,” it will be more costly to back out of the deal. More time, effort, and resources will have gone into a venture which wasn’t meant to work from the get-go because of incompatible corporate cultures or other issues. A deal should be more than financials (“looks”), we need to look deeper into management styles, corporate philosophies, and human resources (“personality”) to analyze if a merger will create the desired outcomes.