A well-planned integration process for mergers and acquisitions can help you maximize the value of your deal. This is a complicated process that requires the right mix of organizational, operational, finance, change management and cultural skills to succeed. The ones who are successful can earn up to 12 percent higher total returns to their shareholders than those who don’t.

The company that is buying should begin planning the integration process in the earliest possible time, during the diligence and negotiation phases. An assessment of the culture of the target will aid in shaping your approach to due-diligence meetings, top management meetings, and the initial planning. In the case of one healthcare acquisition managers utilized their initial insights into the culture of the target to make strategic choices about the assessment of synergies and the structure of teams for integration. They made tactical decisions like limiting the number of people were present at the initial meetings and also limiting the number of functional areas.

We’ve identified a method to harness synergies during large mergers that work. This includes putting line managers in charge of their objectives and holding them accountable for the results. It also means adding synergies to the annual operating plans of leaders and budgets.

It’s critical to have a well-integrated management team during the post-close integration period which could last merger acquisition integration up to two years. The team should have the authority to act swiftly and have access to all relevant information.