How to smooth the challenges of business integration with a change management approach

Posted by David Miller


Merging two companies with existing culture, processes and systems is never an easy task. Merging two large organizations each with an in-grained way of working, while minimizing the disruption to business and retaining key talent, is a potentially mammoth undertaking.

Using a people-centred, structured, change methodology can help your integration team achieve it.

Micro Focus to integrate HPs non-core software business

The announcement that Micro Focus International, one of the UK’s largest technology firms, will buy part of Hewlett-Packard’s business to create one of the world’s leading software companies, has caused a lot of discussion in various circles. Not least is the thought that Micro Focus now has a significant integration challenge ahead.

Micro Focus have stated that they have a two- to three-year integration plan in mind, but also that the deal will generate improved earnings per share and value to shareholders within the first full financial year.

The question is, will Micro Focus be able to successfully bring the expected long-term value to the table while delivering the hard target of positive returns within the first year?

We suggest that following a people-centred, structured, approach to change will significantly increase the chances of success.

Gain early insights and reduce people risks

Change management considers the holistic view of an activity. It is not just about deciding which accounting system the newly merged company should use, or which customer service policy will remain, or even which office location is most suitable.

Change management considers all of the factors that will either make or break an integration.

Too often the "people" part of the People-Process-Technology triad is only thought of as numbers: how many resources with X skill in X location are needed? Where in fact employees’ willingness to embrace the changes (or not) plays a significant part of how successful an integration is.

Understanding the two organizations through a thorough change legacy assessment will uncover the potential challenges and complexities people risks can bring to the integration project.

Putting in place specific action plans to address the risks can help improve employee commitment levels for the integration significantly. Just a small drop in risk can make a significant difference to commitment levels.

Think medium-long term while deliver in the short term

Embracing a change management approach also allows the integration team to consider the immediate, medium and long term impact of their actions.

Too often integration teams focus on the immediate returns while eroding the ability to maintain medium and long term value. Or, conversely, by focusing too much on the potential risk to long term value they become stuck in analysis-paralysis, and are unable to action immediate changes.

A structured approach, with a change roadmap, clear plans, and cross-workstream tracking and communication, keeps the whole team on track and focused throughout the integration.

A structured Change Management framework

Change of this magnitude needs to be planned and treated as a program of work to ensure that:

  • The full scope of work is planned and put into a 2-3 year roadmap
  • Potential quick wins and early value returns are identified, and tracked
  • Critical success factors are identified and measured
  • Risk areas are identified and mitigation plans put into place
  • People risks and commitment levels are measured, and tracked
  • Clear communication channels, across multiple work streams, are in place
  • Clear top down communication and leadership throughout the change is in place
  • Progress towards milestones and goals are easily measured, tracked and communicated.

There is no two ways about it. This merger will bring change across all areas of the two organizations, and there is a significant opportunity to treat the integration as a change program and drive it as a success.

Are you looking for the right change methodology for your organization? Click here to find out how Changefirst’s industry-leading change management methodology can help you, or click the button below to find out more about our all-in-one change management toolkit Roadmap Pro. 

Find out more about Roadmap Pro


Tags: Change Management, Change methodology, Changefirst, business integration, change program

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