The top risk to an integration timeline is external dependencies
In any programme of change there will be a number of dependencies on third parties and suppliers. Whilst it’s not always easy to secure resource and commitment from internal teams and colleagues, there exist escalation procedures at every business that support the prioritisation of work and activities.
Where a single project or programme of change may involve a number of external dependencies, integrating two businesses involves all of them! One sure fire way to miss milestones, deadlines and delivery dates is to ignore the external factors at play. Whether you’re looking at finance processes and the dependency is with your accountant, a review of contracts and the dependency sits with your legal advisor or any system or process change that relies on a supplier then you need to engage with the external party as part of the planning process.
When planning change in the business you need to be very generous with the amount of time it may take to engage a supplier (sometimes just finding the right person in that business takes time). Engagement is just the first step though, you will want to clarify the goal you want to reach and the timelines in which you want to do it. Where possible you should share these and any agreement reached in writing after initial calls so that everyone is clear on the approach and proposed timelines. It may well be the first time they supplier has had to do any integration work!
When finalising plans you should again build in buffers for any delays (internal and external) so that any change to approach or delay to activities minimise the risk of delaying the overall programme of change.
Whether you’re changing a financial process, amending a contract or integrating two businesses – always engage with external parties as a planning priority.