I fully agree that there should be more training and focus on this element, but I feel that the reason why there is limited training on this topic is because it is exceptionally subjective and hard to apply theories. For me, a helpful training would be learning from case studies and people’s practical experiences/stories from M&A transactions they have been a part of.
I do see integration teams with some of our larger buyers in the behavioral healthcare space. When you have “people” businesses, you do see a more concentrated effort to maintain the culture, since staffing is the main driver of business. But, I agree that it’s not done to the extent that it should be.
From my experience, understanding that the integration process should be as well thought out as the deal negotiation is of critical importance. Transition services are blended into contract negotiations as a deal breaker at times; and sometimes a potential buyer has no idea what is actually required of them on day 1 ( including getting the resources in place to support them) and then this can either impede close, leave employees vulnerable and the acquirer in breach or force the hand of a seller to be involved in transition services for longer than they may wish. Identifying an integration expert as part of your transaction team is critical.
I think a culture of a company tends to be overlooked. It is a very fundamental issue that can really help a company reach greater heights, and part of a good M&A advisor should always pay attention to such fundamental issues.
I have seen what happens when you focus on the financials over all other elements of an acquisition. What was scoped as a low level of effort integration (6 months tops) took over 2 years to get to a point where all could work somewhat cohesively. Training, surveys and hiring a consultancy to help evaluate can save time, money and effort post merger.