The Best Enhancements for Integration Success

Two M&A Integration Training Courses You Need to Attend
By Mark Herndon, Chairman and CEO of the M&A Leadership Council 

In 2021 we began offering two outstanding online trainings, The Art of M&A® Integration Strategy and Change Management and The Art of M&A® Executing Integration for Maximum Results. We get this question often, "You have two integration courses; which one do I need?" 

The answer? Think of them as salt and pepper – totally different, but you want both on a delicious steak!

Before jumping into the specific differences between the two, let me tell you what's the same. First, both programs are facilitated by real M&A experts and deeply experienced corporate practitioners that will give you the practical, applicable "practitioner's viewpoint" that you can take back and apply in your organization. Second, they are instructed in a highly interactive, experiential learning format that balances the content delivery with insightful open discussion and group exercises. Third, both culminate in a capstone case study exercise of a real (and recognizable) prior deal. You will be asked to work in a small group, answer specific questions that apply the concepts in the course, and read out your recommendations for other workshop participants. Finally – even our online courses get outstanding feedback from participants with an average rating of 4.5 on a scale of 5.0.

Now let's review the differences:

The Art of M&A® Integration Strategy and Change Management is based on our flagship training program that helped launch the M&A Leadership Council over twelve years ago. It is one of our most popular and highly rated workshops through continued value-engineering and innovation. This course is built on a topical overview structure and provides a solid grounding in best practices, failure factors, and success principles across a wide range of subjects including, but not limited to:

  • The ROI of effective integration. Specific integration best practices and their impact on business result outcomes such as revenue synergy capture, cost synergy capture, the overall pace of integration, and avoidance of "value erosion" or unintended negative business impacts of integration.
  • Deal strategy implications for integration. Given each deal's principal investment thesis, what type of integration or overall approach to integration should you take, and what does each "deal-type DNA" look like?
  • Defining the "concept of integration" as an input to the overall integration strategy. This is still one of the best decision support tools I have encountered in my career to help executive teams set the broad directional approach for enterprise integration and essential functional, go-to-market, and programmatic guardrails before the formal launch of detailed integration planning.
  • Essential functional insights and best practices for people and organizational risks, communications and change management, and cultural integration. Each is presented by a deep functional SME with actual war stories, lessons learned, and up-to-date insights to help your organization get better results.

The Art of M&A® Executing Integration for Maximum Results was initially launched seven years ago, focusing on the program management aspects of integration. It has also undergone continuous value-engineering and innovation. Frankly, we get some of the most outstanding feedback on this program of any of our courses! There are plenty of excellent introductory project management courses out there where you can learn the core Project Management Body of Knowledge ("PMBOK"). Instead, this training identifies and discusses 20 specific decisions, events, and processes across the entire M&A lifecycle that every Integration Leader, IMO, Function Team Leader and Program Manager absolutely, positively must plan and execute effectively to be successful! It is entirely different by design in that it focuses on the roles of the Integration Leader, the Integration Management Office ("IMO"), and the Integration Program Manager.


This workshop will help you identify best practices, applicable insights, and lessons learned on a phase-by-phase basis across the entire M&A lifecycle, including:

  • Phase 1 – Strategy & Targeting. In this phase, we will cover integration resourcing, readiness, and integration costs. Do your executive and corporate development teams know the staffing and budget implications of different deal types and sizes? Without planning these essential inputs into the financial model from the outset, many deals never have a chance to hit their desired business results.
  • Phase 2 – Due Diligence and Transaction Management. This phase covers the increasingly important role of the Diligence Management Office ("DMO"). How the Integration Leader and IMO should be "read-into" the deal. How to effectively transition from diligence to integration to capture the insights, nuance, risks, action items, and decisions needed before the launch of detailed integration planning.
  • Phase 3 – Integration Pre-Announce. This phase covers the integration strategy framework – what it is, who, when, and how it is developed, and why it matters to the deal's results. Also, you will learn critical insights for launching the IMO, program governance, and the IMO's role in planning, messaging, and executing the all-important initial deal announcement.
  • Phase 4 – Integration Pre-Close. Now it's time to deep dive into core integration best practices and processes. For example, the pre-close legal do's and don'ts. What you can and can't plan with your counterpart before closing. Defining and executing a genuinely successful Day 1. This would include cutovers, messaging, change management, employee and customer experience that will help you make your dull, ineffective "cupcakes and townhalls" approach to Day 1 to an actual, world-class business and change management breakthrough especially in the post-pandemic virtual environment.
  • Phase 5 – Integration Post-Close. As an Integration Leader, Function Team Leader, IMO, or Program Manager, this should be your "bread-and-butter." We have found that most organizations fall far short of what they can and should be doing with critical processes. For example, Integration Discovery; Launch of Joint Integration Planning; Developing the Integration Plan of Record and Cross-functional Dependencies; executing and tracking the deals essential "value-drivers; and of course, cadence, statusing, reporting, and dealing with "RAID" (e.g., risks, action items, issues and decisions needed) throughout the execution phase.
  • Phase 6 – Long-term Value Capture. Truth in advertising notice – given time constraints, we'll only have time for a brief overview of this phase. Frankly, many organizations fail at this all-important step, which is a key reason so many deals STILL underperform the anticipated business results. The good news? Through interactive discussion combined with expert viewpoints, your organization will gain essential insights on "when is integration over," the importance of conducting a comprehensive program assessment, and "transfer of operations," then relaunching a new phase of integration.

As you can see, these training programs are individually essential and robust. Each brings its own unique flavor to your M&A success. I hope that we've whetted your appetite for the well-seasoned feast that BOTH courses represent.

Please contact us with any questions you have about these workshops. In the meantime, we hope to see you soon at an upcoming online training!