Setting Clear Roles and Responsibilities for Effective M&A Integration
Using RACI, a Project Management Core Tool
Submitted by Jack Prouty, A subject matter expert in the field of mergers and integrations.
One of the most significant issues I have seen in assisting over 100 companies with effective M&A project management during the integration is setting clear roles and responsibilities. Project management is not usually a core competency in most organizations, and when coupled with an acquisition and integration effort, it becomes even more challenging. During an M&A integration, you are not just managing the integration effort but must also continue to manage each of the businesses during this transition effectively. Unless you apply rigor and structure to the process, you will negatively impact the day-to-day business operations and the overall integration planning process.
Introducing RACI in the M&A Integration Process
A tool I have found effective in managing these efforts is using a RACI chart. It is a tool I have used in the last 30 years in helping companies improve their overall operating effectiveness and general project management practices; however, it has become an even more critical tool when dealing with M&As. RACI stands for who is responsible (R), who is accountable (A), who needs to be consulted (C) to provide key information and advice, and who needs to be kept informed (I).
Let me provide more detail and, in so doing, also share my biases. Effective acquisitions and integrations are one of the most essential and critical business functions any organizations undertake. Too often, the work is delegated to middle management. I recommend that the responsibilities are assigned to the senior executives of the various business functions. They get the “R” and are responsible for effectively planning and delivering the integration efforts in their functional area.
However, to get the work done, they need to bring it down to key tasks or deliverables. Here the focus is on designating who is going to be held accountable. Only one person can have the “A”, so if needed, this may need to be broken down to the next task level, but the key here is that one person is held responsible.
Once assigned accountability for the task, it may be necessary for that person to seek advice, input, and key information, from others (the C). There needs to be clarity about what is required from them, when, and how. They need to be held responsible for providing this (and like other aspects of assignments in the RACI chart, I have seen all sorts of avoidance of responsibility and accountability).
The last element is who needs to be kept informed (I). This could be the senior executives, especially the one with the R; it could be communications of information from this task to those responsible for impacted activities or related tasks, or it could be general updates. You should only inform those individuals with the need to know. This requires real discipline, and you should:
- Avoid large meetings.
- Communicate only what is needed when it is needed to the key constituents.
- Ensure those informed know they are be told, not asked for their opinions.
Keep the list short (as a friend of mine once said, “a committee should consist of an odd number and 3 is too many”).
Here is a straightforward example of a high-level RACI chart for illustration purposes only:
Applying RACI to the M&A Integration
Now that I have introduced the concept and given examples let me take the gloves off and share with you why I am such a proponent of using this tool, assuming that I am the Integration Project Director:
- The greatest reason for success or failure in an integration effort is the lack of executive support and commitment. That is why I want a senior executive to be responsible for each key area of the integration.
- Someone (and only one person) can be held accountable for delivering critical activity. People love to avoid accountability, but in an M&A integration, it is essential to hold someone’s feet to the fire to get things done.
- I cannot think of a major area in an integration where there are no cross-functional interactions, coordination, and communications required. For example, if I am responsible for the integration of the accounting function, I need to coordinate with IT, HR, sales, and operations, among other functions. I need information from them to effectively do my job, and, in turn, they need information from me.
- I have work to do, but I need to keep key people updated and informed. The important word is key people: the minimum information they need, what level, when, and how. I don’t have time for large meetings; people wasting my time because they are curious and want to know; people without the knowledge, expertise, or responsibility giving me their suggestions or opinions.
I have found over the years that without this tool, effectively developed and supported by senior executives, as the overall integration project leader, I am putting both the project and my career at risk. Is this difficult to develop and get buy-in from the key stakeholders? Yes! But is it an essential tool for clarifying roles and responsibilities and aligning what needs to be done and by whom? An even louder yes!
The consolidation of your M&A project activities into a purpose-built solution such as Devensoft will facilitate several key functions. Not only are you able to easily assign aspects of the project to the appropriate responsible (R) and accountable (A) individuals – you can provide read only access throughout the system to those who need to be consulted (C) and informed (I) on those topics with intuitive access controls. Intradepartmental and interdepartmental communications are simply housed and securely stored in the system, which prevents the loss of valuable information and saves time spent searching for answers to questions that inevitably arise. Additionally, you can request, receive and make updates on critical tasks throughout the project easily with status updates – all in one place. When your M&A project has united in orbit around a single-source-of-truth, you may find yourself wondering what you could have done with the extra time you now have to devote elsewhere, not to mention the absence of headaches.
Contact Devensoft today to learn how you can elevate your M&A integration with a single-source-of-truth!
About the author: Jack Prouty is the former President and Co-Founder of the M&A Leadership Council and earlier the KPMG Partner-in-Charge of Business Integration, a practice he started. He has built and managed two M&A consulting practices for major professional services firms. In addition, he has trained over 3500 executives and managers on this subject throughout his career.
Jack has assisted well over 100 companies in various pre- and post-acquisition integration planning and implementation projects. Operating in the trenches with these clients, he has developed the tools, processes, and best practices for effective integration.