Tips for making complex changes in a merged organization

Filed under Columns

By Lisa Pollard

Guest Columnist

Lisa Pollard of Peritius consulting offers tips for merging organizations

Lisa Pollard of Peritius Consulting; Photo courtesy of Peritius

Mergers and other major business events often mean completing complex, cross-functional integration. For example, during a merger, one organization’s enterprise financial system might be selected to support the combined organization, requiring the integration of all systems from both organizations into that platform.

When contemplating major organizational change, a report by Gartner Inc. suggested leaders consider the following three factors:

  • Cross-functional capabilities: Enterprise change requires a team with capabilities in technology, business processes and the human aspects of change.
  • Communication: Coordinated communication is critical to success.
  • Culture: Sustaining change often demands updates to the organization’s culture.

In addition, use the following guidelines to help execute and sustain change throughout an enterprise:


  1. Appoint a leadership team, and make one person accountable for planning, organizing and executing the desired change. This person must have authority to direct activities throughout the company.
  2. For each functional area, decide who will serve as the liaison to the central team and be accountable for executing the requisite change in his or her organization.


  1. Establish the overall objectives and success criteria.
  2. Map the changes required. Some questions to consider: Which facilities will close? Which organizational structures will combine? Which technology systems will integrate? Which will be decommissioned? How will the changes impact the company’s processes and procedures?
  3. Dedicate the necessary resources to the core project teams. Do not expect all individuals to juggle work on these major initiatives and their “day jobs.” If combining organizations, appoint team members from both.
  4. Create a shared vision for the team. Make sure all involved understand their roles in achieving the program’s success and what that success looks like.
  5. Determine the logical order in which to execute the changes based on process and technology interdependencies. For example, which changes must precede others and which changes must happen in parallel? Then publish the project portfolio and the schedule.
  6. Define a standard set of milestones and associated timeline for each implementation event. Where significant process or system interdependencies exist across organizational lines, determine which areas are driving the change and which are responding. Stagger their respective milestone dates with the driver projects due first.


  1. Define your organization’s capacity for change at a given time. If the changes are too large in scope for a “big bang” implementation, slot the initiatives into multiple coordinated events. For example, establish quarterly dates for organizations to launch various components of their overall change.
  2. Develop and enforce a standard approach to documenting and reporting on all initiatives.
  3. Appoint a central team to coordinate communication and training related to the changes. Where possible, avoid duplicate communications from different areas of the organization.
  4. Require weekly status reports and aggregate those into a corporate summary, highlighting key accomplishments and issues for the corporate executives.
  5. Staff a command center and require project teams report regularly on their progress and on any issues that arise. Establish a schedule and script for the reports for efficiency.
  6. Celebrate success at each major milestone and recognize the key contributors.

Major change is never easy, but following the guidelines presented in this column will help ensure success while making the process go more smoothly.

Lisa Pollard is a senior manager at Peritius Consulting, a Chicago-area management consulting firm that uses project and program management to implement business strategy. Pollard has more than 15 years of experience in strategic initiatives. This article was first published by Peritius Consulting and is published here with permission.

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