Project management in a Merger and Acquisition(M&A)
Merger and Acquisition projects are the ones when the one company is bought by the other and you are transferring either data/processes/both to the buyer. As the name implies and sounds you are merging a lot of things between the two companies. The employees from the old company are also getting merged including the culture, the factors which are above and beyond the challenges of the actual activities.
Project management in such a situation needs heavy planning, much more than the regular traditional projects because the projects are heavily complex and chaotic. A thorough robust planning and a tight monitoring is required throughout the lifecycle of the project
The projects in M&A situation are very easily prone to go wrong.
Why do the projects go wrong easily?
Known risks are not taken serious and unknowns risks add up quickly.
Anything such complex of a program or project comes with a lot of complexities and risks. The type of the project with an M&A has its own known risks, for example, the processes are different, the technologies are different, roles are different, expectations are different. Furthermore there are accountability issues, technical risks such as environments, configurations etc.
Unknown risks are called unknown as they are of course unknown and will be handled as an issue when an issue arises. The number of these unknown risks builds up quickly compared to other projects, either internal or external traditional projects. The contingency should be established, so the project is prepared to get back on track when the issues arise.
Cultural deviations are not accounted for.
Often times, the culture is ignored to be accounted for, either as a risk or a watch list item. But this plays a very significant role and adds to the complexity of the project. Because of the culture that the team is used to in the previous company, they operate differently and hence puts the pressure on the deliverables right from the beginning. So, need to pay close attention to this factor as well as others.
Under-estimation and late realization.
The standard PM processes and allocations do NOT always work for this kind of a program. There has to be a separately designed process for estimation of work. Basically, there is no one size fits all solution. Need to jot down all risks, prioritize, estimate properly by evaluating all the dependencies in terms of environments, technology, process changes, scope, business expectations, data transfer, networks etc.
What can a project manager and leadership do?
The leadership has to first understand the complexity, do a deep dive right from initiation phase. Making sure the scope is defined well, all the design aspects are covered, issues addressed and allocations are done right. Also important is assigning the project manager on time. If the project is moving along and the project managers are added later during execution by not understanding the bandwidth properly, then it puts lot of stress on both the timelines and the quality of the overall program. And once the project managers are on board, it is vital for the right knowledge transfer to be done so they are updated on the current status of the program and are able to jump in to make right decisions as quickly as possible.