I believe there is great benefit to standardization with the knowledge that the templates and processes need to be reviewed and possibly tweaked with each acquisition. Having standards allows you to get started more quickly vs re-inventing the wheel with every single transaction. Additionally, standardization ensures that all the knowledge does not reside with one or two key individuals who may or may not be around for the next acquisition.
I’m a big believer in standardization with all projects. All projects (M&A included) are different and will require nuanced approaches. However just like a builder shows up to a job with a standard tool kit, as change practitioners we should have a standard toolkit at our disposal. It’s then up to us to decide which tools to use and what small tweaks to make depending on the job; or perhaps we may discover we need to add a new tool. But having the playbook saves a lot of time as opposed to starting from scratch with each engagement.
An industry agnostic framework or guiding principles for reference will be an ideal starting point. As we delve down deeper into specific nature of acquisition, would be helpful to have these guiding principles with deeper details on specific Industry type / org type / nature of transaction / guidelines for specific functions etc. I believe there is enough and more M&A activity that has taken place to be able to create these guiding principles at various different levels. Having said that, change is the only constant and every new transaction provides new learnings that will continue to evolve these guidelines.
I have used what I have learned in this course along with the experience from my company’s recent acquisition to create a framework. But as you stated there are unique challenges and opportunities with each M&A that need to be considered and addressed accordingly. For example, in our recent acquisition our goal was to extend our offerings, for that reason the target company was largely left unchanged and a focus on allowing the employees of the small target company to select which HR benefits they would adopt kept positive momentum. If we purchase a competitor likely the HR issues may be more complex if there is a need to merge positions and reorganize one or both companies.