Caution: Integration Zone

by Global PMI Partners Partner, Scott Whitaker

I always tell executives that integrations are one of the most difficult corporate exercises to do consistently well.

Where else do you have such a confluence of people, culture, systems, processes, synergies, policies…. and a hundred other things coming together at one time? Oh and try to keep business continuity and the top line unaffected while you handle all this. Piece of cake!

As we head into the second half of 2015, here are a few simple but common integration watch outs to keep your guard up against.

Weak or Inadequate Governance:
It is critical the IMO (Integration Management Office) report into a C-suite executive, and it is critical to have some governance via an executive level steering committee. I don’t like creating more bureaucracy more than anyone else, but integrations will surface issues no one expected, and that will require senior level intervention. Many times someone will have to “call the play”, as you can bog down in competing viewpoints and operational stalemates that zap momentum. These must be escalated and expedited quickly, so fine tune your governance process on the front end to avoid these types of issues later on.

Under Communicating:
Sometimes getting meaningful communication approved by senior execs is like pulling teeth. They often underestimate the important of honest, frank and frequent communication. As an IMO lead, you must force the issue and make sure your IMO’s communication planning is robust and effective.

Here’s what happens to most people when they are uncertain about a company’s direction or their role in it: they freeze, and productivity plummets. Make sure you communicate early and often during integration, and establish the communication tools and channels you will need as soon as possible.

Lack of Urgency:

Integrations should be fast paced and methodical with a bias for urgency. Have an issue come up in the morning? Get it resolved in 24 hours and then communicate next steps to the affected teams. Keep moving as there is nothing worse than an integration that plods along and undermines momentum.

There’s an affliction called “integration fatigue” that occurs when integration work goes on too long and IMO leads and functional team members get bored and frustrated. Set the pace-and keep it until circumstances dictate otherwise.

Scope Creep:

Sometimes integration activity becomes a home for any pet project or stalled initiative of the organization. Because there’s so much activity and muscle being expended already, folks think any problem can be solved thru integration!

Avoid letting integration “scope creep” load your integration work plan with projects that are standard organizational initiatives and not integration initiatives. Keep them out and assigned where they should be. Better yet-deprioritize them until the integration heavy lifting is complete.

I would love to hear comments from others with some of their watch outs and lessons learned. Comment and “Like” this post on LinkedIn by clicking here.

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