Create an integration team
Once the negotiation group reaches agreement, it should wind up. During negotiation, each organisation makes decisions based on its individual strategic interests, but once the final merger agreement has been signed the types of discussions and relationships need to change. The focus should now be on how to work together and implement what you have agreed quickly and effectively.
Once the merger agreement is signed, the first step is to create an integration team, which comprises a core group of executives and managers from both organisations. Their role is to delegate responsibility to key staff to implement each component of the merger agreement, and to receive recommendations from the staff of both organisations on how best to proceed in in all operational areas in detail. The integration team will provide the design principles or rationale for their decisions to the Board to provide transparency in the decision making process. Depending on the governance arrangements you have agreed, the integration team may report to both boards in order to maintain the confidence of both pre-merger organisations and to encourage greater accountability.
The integration team will develop an integration implementation plan that identifies the main stages and components of the integration and maps out timelines, dependencies, accountabilities and risk mitigation strategies. Integration can occur in overlapping stages rather than a strict sequence, and you should choose an order that makes sense to those responsible for implementation. Err on the side of caution when developing timelines as integration usually takes longer than you would expect.
Please feel free to leave questions or comments on this part of the merger toolkit.