and potential areas for synergy and discord.”
In the most recent large acquisition she man-
aged—Sound Physicians’ acquisition of Cogent
Healthcare—Ms. Blanco and her team worked with
leadership from both organizations to determine
which existing projects in the clinical portfolios
would continue or be dropped. Close collaboration
helped her team finish the process of combining the
clinical portfolios in just 45 days.
“This process could take years or, frankly, never
be completely finished if teams don’t work effectively,” she says. “I’ve seen organizations where
legacy applications, policies and/or teams remain
that support only a portion of the business for no
other reason than that the integration of long-ago
acquisition was never completed.”
From the start of any M&A process, the top priority
is to keep the organization running smoothly. To
prevent operating problems and gaps, sometimes
a few system and service overlaps need to be tolerated during integration, says Christian Schmittknecht, PMP, global head of country IT, mergers,
acquisitions and divestitures at pharmaceutical firm
Novartis, Basel, Switzerland.
Whether it’s IT global infrastructure or organizational systems such as human resources (HR),
redundant departments and functions can be especially significant during a major multiyear merger.
For instance, in 2014, Novartis began a series of
limited M&A transactions with other major pharmaceutical companies, and a year and a half later
Mr. Schmittknecht estimates that the process of
integrating the affected systems from each company
is only about halfway complete. The deliberate pace
is intentional and ensures fewer glitches during
integration. As data systems and business functions
migrate, the other company phases out its corresponding system, he says.
“You can’t just say on day one, ‘Okay, everything
runs on the new company’s system,’” he says.
Workforces, cultures and policies need to be
merged, too. To facilitate all of these transitions,
project teams should deploy structured communication tools, says Betsy Mathew, PMP, director,
people and organizational development, DarkMatter LLC, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. These
tools, ideally outlined in a post-merger integration
The global number of mergers and acquisitions—and the value of those deals—
has shot up in recent years.
Source: Institute for Mergers, Acquisitions and Alliances
2.657 2.524 2.519
“You need to pad integration
projects with more time than
you think might be necessary.”
—Christian Schmittknecht, PMP