For BT and dabs.com, Calyx and Matrix, EquIP and Horizon, and a plethora of other channel players, the ink has dried on their deals, and the rush to get the paperwork signed, sealed and delivered is over. Integrating the new companies is now at the top of the agenda, and doing this well can make or break the whole process.
While migrating systems and processes such as human resources, CRM and accounting systems can be a hideous task, it is one that is logical and process driven. It is a non-emotive business function that can be followed through step by step.
However, a more gargantuan task is to integrate the cultures of different businesses. Human beings are emotional and unpredictable, and attempting to merge two very different cultures, for example BT and Dabs, can be fraught with danger and extremely arduous.
Speaking to InTechnology following the sale of its European Allasso arm to Magirus, the company was honest enough to admit that the cultural differences between its Yorkshire-based head-office and the European offices of Allasso were simply too much to integrate. It is difficult enough to amalgamate two companies that share the same language and social culture, but to attempt to unite with foreign companies is hugely problematic.
The trouble is that while most management-level staff understand the business reasons for a merger or acquisition, the employees in a company will feel threatened and territorial. The answer then is to get staff to buy in to the integration from the bottom up.
People always support what they help to create. So spending time with staff, remaining open and honest, and getting input from everyone, from the administrative staff to the board, is crucial. Because integrating cultures is massively underestimated, and can be the downfall of what is, on paper, a sound acquisition or merger.
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