Rules of thumb to plan integration timeline and costs

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    walid ardhaoui

    What rules of thumb do you employ early on when reviewing a potential target to obtain a preliminary, high-level estimate of the time and cost involved in integrating the target?

    Erin Gray

    We look closely at the synergies between them and our company to determine if their structure and data would be adaptable to our systems and core processes. We currently acquire smaller companies as a means to expand market share in new regions so it is very important to have overarching synergies with our business practices.


    When it comes to timing – look into the 3 last large-scale internal change initiatives, and multiply the time spent x2.


    Not easy to provide a simple answer, and not sure your question is about the M&A process or the PMI one.
    But if (so many ifs):
    – the size of the acquired company is small (less than 1000 employees?)
    – it has only one main facility in a country where the acquiring company is already present (meaning a single country known regulation)
    – the business is similar or comparable between the 2 companies
    – the scope of the integration covers activities from the main value chain and support functions
    – you have a decent dedicated integration team and integration capabilities like data migration, infrastructure, collaboration tools…
    – probably others…
    The minimum timeline I can think of is between 12 and 18 months as you need to give enough space for the communication and change to happen – not only for employees, but as well for leadership, customers, vendors, authorities and other external partners…


    Complexity of Integration: The greater the disparity in size, structure, and operations between the acquiring company and the target, the more complex and time-consuming the integration is likely to be.

    Technology Compatibility: Incompatible technology stacks and IT systems may result in longer and more expensive integration processes.

    Employee Integration: The more harmonious the cultural fit between the acquiring and target companies, the smoother and quicker the integration of employees.

    Regulatory and Legal Consideration: The more complex the regulatory environment or legal framework, the more time and resources may be required for compliance and approvals.

    Customer and Supplier Relationships: The more interdependent the target’s relationships with customers and suppliers, the more attention and time will be needed for seamless integration.

    Synergies and Redundancies:
    Always x2 or even x3 the initial time and resources planned for any integration to manage management’s expectation.

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