M&A Pitfalls: Timeline? What Timeline?

ROI hinges on investment amount, future income flow, and time. The latter tends to get ignored.

More often than not, I get called to support a project that is past due already. At the time I arrive on site, management has realized that the original timeline cannot be met, and that integration progress and synergy delivery are delayed. In other words: The original timeline is shot, with the knock-on effect that the entire financial model does not work anymore.

Mostly, a lack of planning during due diligence can be identified as the root cause: The effort linked to integration is larger than anticipated, there is no structured project management or controlling, risks and progress (or the lack thereof) are not clearly communicated. In addition, frequently day-to-day business and integration work are not properly aligned, leading to competing priorities.

There are, however, a few things management can do to avoid this scenario:

  • Start integration planning with due diligence (or even earlier)
  • Implement a strict project governance
  • Assign strong managers to the project team
  • Communicate, discuss and review priorities
  • Develop transparent project KPIs (financial and non-financial)
  • Use continuous visual progress reporting
  • Routine team meetings
  • Share and celebrate successes