Functional integration – which is the toughest

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    Boon Hean Lee

    Which is the toughest function to integrate? Please share your thoughts.

    Celena Song

    From my experience this depends on the two companies and the similarities between their functions. However, since all companies typically have a Finance, HR and IT function this is where my projects typically focus on. Especially since these functions also heavily impact one another as well as the other functional areas.

    Eric Chueh

    Likely heavily dependent on size, industry, and complexity of business processes; as mentioned above, some of the most resource-intensive integration activities are cross-functional, and if not addressed and mitigated may impose unseen dependencies or delays in the project.


    I would argue that it is not a specific function it is people integration that is the most difficult. I believe the number of acquired employees who are leaving the company in the first year is really high on average (around 33%). I personally work on IT integration and also for me the main challenge is to help target employees feel comfortable. Success in systems and business process integration is not achieved without people from both sides.

    Scott Love

    In healthcare it seems some of the tougher areas to integrate are: IT/EMR, financial reporting, and HR (people and systems).

    Adrienne Heiskanen

    I am at a software company. IT seems to be the toughest to integrate, with some systems taking upwards of 3 years.


    In my opinion, the toughest function to integrate is culture. Culture influences how people behave and how people understand their own actions. For example in leadership style (e.g. dictatorial or consultative, clear or diffuse)–> a shift in leadership style can generate turnover among employees who object to the change. This is especially true for top talent, who are usually the most mobile employees

    Ryan Dawkins

    I’m surprised no one has mentioned Sales & Distribution. This often the place where we are forced with most conflicts and requests for trade-offs. No one ever wants to change the way customers experience their product.

    Shunji Brown-Woods

    I agree with Shamil on the response given that it is most notably the people and not the function. It is important that clear role expectations are set and that functional leadership with extended stakeholders understand the outcomes to be achieved so that there is shared accountability. I also believe as some have stated that the complexity of core functions can make it more challenging. However, with the right mix of accountable leaders and clarity in expectations on all sides, this can be overcome.


    Hi !

    I do believe the HR integration to be the toughest and most critical for the success of any merger or acquisition as we are dealing with diverse cultures most of the times, irrespective of the fact whether the deal is a national or cross-border.

    Joshua Tan Lien Hoe

    Cultural integration is often a challenge in many industries, especially in large corporations.

    Bernhard Seidel

    I believe that the most challenging part is the IT-integration. Nearly everything is depending on the IT-set-up in every company. So if you don’t have e.g. the same ERP-system in place for both companies, then it will be a significant challenge to align / exchange them. This obviously depends on the number of modules that are implemented and on the “user specifics” implementd.


    I think HR and culture. It is hard to navigate roles and responsibilities and ensure culture is integrated during acquisitions. It needs its own workstream and detailed focus.


    I agree with much of the discussion above, HR, IT, culture, finance all play huge roles in integration. My background is specific to technology so I am typically one of the last to leave an integration/separation project. Getting to Day 1 can be a significant challenge for HR but once everyone is onboarded to get paid and into their LMS systems the real work begins in technology. I typically spend 4-9 months just in the planning phase of future state operating models and detailed plans to get to that future state. The IT integration/separation piece is really the long pole in that it takes the most amount of money and resources to get to that future state. If I am speaking honestly my observation has been culture. When there are disparate cultures between entities and no change management effort as part of the engagement this spells disaster. As the readings have suggested psychology is a big part of the success of a transaction.


    In general, disregarding any specific industries, I would think IT. This area requires precision for integration.

    Finance will have some challenges to meet new management reporting requirements. However, finance folks will usually be able to adapt with their spreadsheets. Major data issues affecting reporting will turn into another IT issue.

    All functions will naturally face HR problems.

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