Friday, 18 December 2020

A Guide to business integrations

This is a Guide to business integrations. Every business integration is different, whether that is bringing together the Harbours and the Airport into a single company: Ports of Jersey, or if the integrations are part of an acquisition programme building presence and capability in Luxembourg, Canada, Jersey and Guernsey.

This therefore is a rough guide of things to consider rather than an exact plan or a precise order, which will inevitably be different according to circumstances. It is however based on real-life experience and successes in public sector, technology, retail and medical businesses.

If you are interested in projects, change or business integrations please contact me or phone +44(0)7797762051

Step 1 - Assemble the Project Team

This is itself is the subject of another step-by-step guide and I won't elaborate here expect to say that it is important to have a team with the competence, capacity, drive and desire to deliver the project. It is also important to have in mind the process of integrating with, and have-over to, business-as-usual team(s) so that there is a clear delineation between the project which should come to an end having achieved its goals, and business-as-usual of running the now expanded business.

Step 2 - Understand the Strategy

Any business integration is part of a strategy and this need to be understood. If the aim is to expand the number of people, products, customers then the integration process may be very different from an aim which is to standardise, centralise, economise. With the former each acquisition may seek to increase the range of products and services [Company A 10 products + Company B 10 products = Company AB 20 products] whereas the latter the intention will be to rationalise and reduce [Company A 10 products + Company B 10 products = Company AB 10 products]

Moreover the business integration may be a long-term "hold" in which case there will probably be significant investment in people, process and technology and a drive for closer integration possibly under a common brand. Or the integration may be a short-term "positon" in which case the businesses are loosely joined possibly with separate products and practices for their "local" sector or market.

The level of integration and the length of ownership are important considerations for investors some of whom may be looking for a steady yield over a long period. Or they may look to flip very quickly to gain the upside of a bigger business (more customers and revenue) without the cost of integration and rationalisation (and associated investment and change).

Some businesses will join but still have 2 accounting systems, 2 sales and marketing teams, 2 compliance teams whereas others would invest to integrate and in the long term rationalise. The most extreme case I have come across is one firm that have 140 different accounting systems, such was the speed of their acquisitions and slowness of their integration.

Step 3 - Review the Products and Services

The above elements set the scene for the Review the Products and Services. Do the business continue all Products and Services or seek to standardise and streamline? A common approach is to consolidate the most profitable and depreciate the least profitable, giving due notice to customers and offering an upgrade or migration path which may also include a review of contracts, terms and conditions, service changes etc. This then later feeds into the Service and Support and Migrate the Customers workstreams discussed later.

Step 4 - Review the Support, Partners and Suppliers

Whether to have 2 accounting systems, 2 sales and marketing teams, 2 compliance teams will depend on a number of factors. It may be that the tax, language and regulations are sufficiently different to merit this. Or it may make common sense to bring everything together under one team and one system.

The same may apply to Partners and Suppliers. If you have an intangible product/service you may be able to service everyone globally from one place or with one supplier, but if there are tangible elements, or the need for face to face, or physical interaction (eg engineer or mechanic) then the choices will be different. For many businesses there is a combination of both strategies at play: centralise some elements and decentralise others.

Step 5 - Review the Organisation Structure

The above elements set the circumstances to Review the Organisation Structure. The roles and responsibilities may change according to what is to centralise or decentralise and what is to expand (more people, products, services) and what is to contract (rationalise services). This may be a once only change as two businesses become one, or more complex if part of an acquisition strategy of many integrations. There may be many functions to consider, some of which may be departments, teams, individuals or external-partnerships. All businesses are different but these themes will apply in some measure to most.
  • Finance And Accounts
  • Sales And Marketing
  • Compliance And Legal
  • Service And Support
  • Training And Development
  • Company Secretarial And Admin
  • Human Resources
  • Information Governance
  • Information Security
  • Properties and Facilities
  • Culture and Communications
Each of the above departments, teams or individuals will have a plan for business-as-usual, keeping existing customers happy and maintaining current Products and Services, whilst also preparing for the future changes. Managing and coordinating the resources between "run the business" and "change the business" is critical.

For the bringing together the Harbours and the Airport into a single company: Ports of Jersey we had the additional legislative and political aspects to consider. It was necessary to write laws to set-up the Port Authority on a legal basis, transfer the assets and vest the responsibilities and all this was subject to political oversight and also political scrutiny, with necessary liaison with UK for Privy Council and Queens Assent. Furthermore it was necessary to reach accord on the balance of responsibilities to the Treasury (expecting a shareholder return) and to Government (expecting public service)

Step 6 - Review the Company Structure

This Review the Organisation Structure may have an impact on company structure, tax status, jurisdiction etc., for example whether there is one business or a conglomerate. Whether there is a holding top-co and where the assets of the entities are held and the income booked and the contracts held. This does require careful thought because internal and inter-company movement of assets, income and resources will have a material affect on the balance sheet and profit and loss of the company(ies) their approach to investment and the rules applying to staff (employment laws are different in some countries) and services (regulations are different in some countries).

Step 7 - Prepare the Service Teams

At the onset we talked about the project which should come to an end having achieved its goals, and transfer to the business-as-usual team who will run the now expanded business. All the thinking above now needs to be translated into preparation so that the new people, policies, processes, products are prepared and ahead of any client migration.

This may be a significant amount of work if it requires the transfer or consolidation of data into new systems or adapt and adoption of new ways of working. This is a project within itself.

Step 8 - Communications

Communications should be happening all the time. I have placed it at Step 9 not because it is the 9th thing to do, but to highlight all the things that need to be considered as part of a communications plan that starts before Step 1. The communications plan should start before integration, perhaps as a statement of strategy or intention. What gets said to whom, when, how and why is a project within itself. There may be issues of commercial confidentiality, insider-trading, staff and union participation. There is much to consider and many to include from shareholders to stakeholders, suppliers to staff.

Step 9 - Culture and Process Change

Culture and Process Change should be happening incrementally all the time, in parallel with planned communications to ensure what you say and what you do remain in step and people are engaged as well as informed. This "theme" may include a number of elements including human resources, training and development, process change and coaching.

Whereas the steps above will provide a map, a map is not a journey. Success is dependant upon execution and successful delivery will be dependant upon the competence, capacity, drive and desire of everyone, and possibly a reliance upon a change team to compliment the project team in helping the people aspects of change.

There may also be the need to consider "local" issues and customs where global approach does not exactly fit and an element of translation, interpretation or customisation is needed.

A Review the Products and Services (discussed above) is ostensibly about picking the winners and losers, those that will carry forward and those for which there will be a managed end-of-life. However at a more granular level there may be a need to review how these are delivered faster, cheaper, better possibly taking account of new capabilities emerging from the integration.

Step 10 - Review and Migrate the Customers, Products and Services

As noted in Communications, there is a need to talk to customers all the time, before, during and after the changes that effect them. The steps above will shape the conversation. In some cases there may be a emphasis to remove unprofitable or high maintenance clients and target resources towards more profitable homogenous clients.

Often small businesses offer a la carte bespoke services when they get started which are difficult and costly to maintain when the scale-up resulting in a switch to drop parochial services in favour of consolidated global services and reduce the variety and complexity of Products and Services to a few staple products.

If your strategy is to target different customers with different Products and Services you may have a challenging tasks of managing the transition, particularly if there are existing contracts and committments which will take a time to unwind, review and renew.

The review element should be a part of the hand-over to business-as-usual and the regular relationship management annual reviews. This is critical part of kaisan: continuous improvement beyond the integration project.


This has been a look at integration rather than the pre-integration task of acquisition. It is not a definitive guide, but hopefully useful to indicate themes and share experience.

If you are interested in projects, change or business integrations or would like checklists, templates, tools or training in any of the above elements or perhaps just a coaching conversation about how to customise and apply these ideas in your organisation please contact me or phone +44(0)7797762051

Tim HJ Rogers MBA
Mob 447797762051

ABOUT TIM: Tim's background includes BUSINESSS responsible for the incorporation of the Post Office and Ports of Jersey and Operations Change and Sales Support Manager for NatWest and RBS International his COMMUNITY INTERESTS include Jersey Policy Forum, hosting TEDx events and he is a Former Chair of Pharmaceutical Benefits Committee and member Public Accounts Committee, and SPORT INTERESTS Triathlon (Commonwealth Games 2006) & Ironman (2006-2016) and Rowing (World Champs 2009, 2010, 2016)

A Guide to strategy, projects and change

Every organisation is different and there are lots of models, guides and articles about strategies. For example Porter suggested 4 strategies "Cost Leadership" (no frills), "Differentiation" (creating uniquely desirable products and services) and "Focus" (offering a specialized service in a niche market). He then subdivided the Focus strategy into two parts: "Cost Focus" and "Differentiation Focus."

There are also lots of models, guides and articles about projects and project management. The two main methodologies are agile (for example Scrum) and waterfall (for example PRINCE2). The main difference between agile and waterfall is that waterfall projects are completed sequentially whereas agile projects are completed iteratively in a cycle.

And finally there are (you've guessed it) lots of models, guides and articles about change, the most famous being the 'change curve' derived from the work of Kubler-Ross, which describes the journey that individuals typically experience when dealing with change and transition. This journey consists of a number of stages that people go through: shock and denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.

This paper is about how these elements may be joined up into a programme. It is not therefore a deep exploration of each element (strategy, projects and change), but a rough guide of things to consider when bringing these elements together. This is not an exact plan or a precise order, which will inevitably be different according to circumstances. It is however based on real-life experience and successes in operatonalising strategy and delivering progress in public sector, technology, retail and medical businesses.

If you are interested in strategy, projects and change please contact me or phone +44(0)7797762051

Step 1 - Translating the Strategy into Plans

Because this is an exploration of how the pieces fit together I will not talk about the process of strategy formulation but instead start from the point that a strategy exists and it is your job to see that it gets delivered. As a Consultant/Project manager this is often the case.

At this point it is important to understand [1] where are we now [2] where do we want to be [3] how to get there. The strategy will address these points in summary, but this now needs to be broken into sub-elements so that we can understand what needs to shift, change, progress, develop. For simplicity I will use the McKinsey 7S Model, but there are many other ways to do this.

It is important to create a "to do list" for each element

  • Strategy: this is your organization's plan for building and maintaining a competitive advantage over its competitors.
  • Structure: this how your company is organized (that is, how departments and teams are structured, including who reports to whom).
  • Systems: the daily activities and procedures that staff use to get the job done.
  • Shared values: these are the core values of the organization, as shown in its corporate culture and general work ethic. They were called "superordinate goals" when the model was first developed.
  • Style: the style of leadership adopted.
  • Staff: the employees and their general capabilities.
  • Skills: the actual skills and competencies of the organization's employees.

From this you will have lengthy lists of major tasks, some of which are dependant upon each-other and need to performed in the correct order, whilst other elements can be done independently. Rather life following a recipe.

Step 2 - Translating Plans into a Programme of Projects

As stated above, this is not about projects and project management or how to do Agile or Waterfall. I will create a separate guide for each. This is about how strategy is linked to a programme of delivery and how that programme provides oversight and drive for the successful delivery of projects and in-so-doing the delivery of change and the goals of the strategy.

Too often I see organisations where it is really hard to link what is said (strategy - thinking) with what is done (projects - actions). Moreover it is often the case that organisations are unclear on focus and priority and over ambitious on delivery. This is typically the case where are more than 20 major projects and no consensus on their priority for scheduling, funding and resources.

I have often said you can do 100 things at 1% (and dissipate your efforts) or 1 thing ar 100% (and put all your eggs in one basket). In truth there is probably a sweet spot of 5 - 10 projects that can be properly delivered in one year depending on duration, funding and resources. Beyond that you increase complexity, confusion, challenges of communication, co-ordination and collaboration and overall increase risk.

Getting the Board, Executive or Senior Management Team to agree the definitions, deliverables and priorities of each project can be a major task. I have been in boardrooms where executives have completely differing views on the purpose, scope and outcome of a project and are unable to prioritise as a result. Left unaddressed this creates uncertainty with inevitable impact on the project delivery and the allocation of resources (time, money, effort).

From this you will have lengthy lists of projects, and some form of ranking and sequence. You'll also have an idea on Priority1 "must do projects" and Priority2 "would like to do projects" and Priority3 "coming soon projects".

What is critical at this stage is to ensure that recognition and reward systems, performance appraisals, departmental goals and personal development plans reconcile to these. I have seen projects (and organisations) fail because the people and processes are incentivised to incongruent goals. You cannot expect people to commit to Project X if their boss has made Task Y their key priority or indeed recognition and reward is aligned to Measure Z.

Step 3 - Assemble the Programme Office

In simple terms the Projects or Programme Management Office [PMO] will be the central hub for tools, templates, training, co-ordination and communication for all projects. There is no single correct truth of what is included in the scope of a PMO and the extent to which elements are centralised or decentralised. Some PMOs are very hands-on involved in strategy, resources, funding, budgets and discussions with managers, staff and delivery teams. Other PMOs are simply a central point to consolidate and distribute project progress reports.

One analogy I have used is Air Traffic Control ATC. ATC does not fly planes, but does ensure that they

  1. Have a clear understanding of destination and route. - A project "idea" has a clear purpose, scope and benefits
  2. Have a agreement on destination and desire. - A project has a business case, plan, budget etc.
  3. Have a flight-plan and inventory of passengers, crew etc. - A project has an idea of roles, goals, controls, etc.
  4. Have pre-flight checks and permission to take-off, avoiding other planes or obstacles. - A project which is ready (people, funding, schedule) is authorised to proceed avoiding crash into another or other critical activities like quarter-end reporting or major campaigns etc.
  5. Have a safe flight with necessary updates on progress, weather or obstacles - A project submits progress reports on their journey and receives updates on possible issues, diversions etc.
  6. Have a safe landing (at the right place, time, and avoiding issues) - A project reaches conclusion its arrival is scheduled and the resources to accept the outputs and outcomes are prepared.
  7. Have process for disembarking and handling arrivals at the new destination - A project has a closure and hand-over to business as usual

This analogy has been useful in differentiating between what happens with in the project (the plane with its captain, crew, passengers, resources and destination) and the oversight and overall co-ordination that happens in the Air Traffic Control ATC tower. ATC does not tell the captain how to fly, nor does the captain take responsibility for what happens outside their aircraft. It is the same between PMO and Project Manager

To stretch this analogy a little further (and beyond the realities of what Air Traffic Control do at most airports), we might also imagine that ATC also runs a "flight school" to train pilots and understand their roles and responsibilities, with appropriate tools, templates, techniques etc.

At this point I will resist the temptation to go into the processes and artefacts of project managerment (perhaps another guide) and conclude by making the point that it is important to have the necessary eco-sphere of roles, goals, controls, checks and balances to ensure smooth operation of international air space, and delivery of projects alike.

Step 4 - Assemble the Talent Academy

This may or may not be an element in your approach, but I have long thought that the role of Project Leadership goes beyond delivering on-time, on-budget, to-specification with low-risk and high-communication and should additionally improve the competence, capacity, drive and desire of every participant.

Creating tools, templates and training via a Projects or Programme Management Office is useful, but at times it is akin to buying someone tools and then assuming that they are a plumber or electrician. As well as the process and artefacts there is a need to work with, support, engage and empower the people.

Without this essential step the strategy is a menu for people that do not want to eat. And a project plan is a recipe for people who do not want to cook.

The common refrain is "we need hearts and minds" with the emphasis on recruitment rather like that Lord Kitchener poster "Your Country Needs You" used to recruit people, ostensibly to the trenches for a heroic, tragic and fifthly death. This leads to the subjugation and demoralisation of people who are overworked and conflicted beween their day-job, the additional and ever changing demands of their bosses and the requests of the projects.

There are a divergence of views here which I should acknowledge, but mine is that it is often useful to differentiate between those that "run the business" and those that "change the business". I do believe that there are different skills and often different personalities in war or in peace, in projects or in business-as-usual, in change or in steady-as-we-go.

A Talent Academy goes beyond training and development of employees and seeks to find, support and develop people into their ideal roles. In this case, somewhat simplistically "run the business" (managers and supervisors) or "change the business" (innovators and change agents).

It is critical that these people co-operate, collaboration and communicate for projects outcomes and outputs to become part of every-day operation. In some organisations they rotate people so that they have experience of developing processes, products and services as well as real-life experience of using these. We must avoid installation without implementation: You have the "thing" but none of the benefits are realised. You may win the war (deliver the project), but you have no plan for peace (operationalise and capitalise).

There has been so much written about education, engagement and empowerment from training, through facilitation, mentoring, coaching that I will suggest that the reader spend some time looking at this vital aspect and what is necessary and useful for their people, projects, progress and performance.

Step 5 - Create The Change Team

The Change Team may be the cadre of "change the business" folks who under the stewardship of Project Managers and/or Scum Masters are the workforce for delivery. They may be the SAS who go in first, to be followed by the infantry and eventually the politicians.

In some business there may be a discrete mergers and acquisitions team, or a project delivery team. Whereas other organisations rely upon volunteers or the goodwill over overstretched employees to find some extra time on top of their daily cores.

The concepts of Programme Management Office (a person, team or function providing oversight and co-ordination) and Talent Academy (a person, team or function providing training, coaching, support) and a Change Team (a person, team or function supporting the delivery) may overlap somewhat, but I do believe consideration needs to be put to these elements. We say "people are our most important asset" yet this is often the least well maintained and cared-for asset, leading to overwork, breakdown and failure.

If you are going to rely upon business-as-usual team to deliver projects as an additional added element to their day-job then there will be a need to protect the people and their time. This can be achieved by dedicating a day or time for project work or a location at which they can be undisturbed by business-as-usual tasks.

The co-ordination and management of tasks and the development and support of people is the most critical element of strategy, projects and change. Creating the environment where success is inevitable (purpose, premises, processes, priority and participation) is key role of management and leadership.

Step 6 - Deliver the Programme, Operationalise the Strategy

With all these elements complete and properly integrated it should be possible to "switch-on" the machine and Deliver the Programme, Operationalise the Strategy. I use the machine metaphor not to undermine the importance of people it is, after all, the people who design, build and operate this machine. However I do feel that it is the processes that should work 24/7 and not the people.

The role of people is not to be a cog in the machine, constantly under pressure to perform, but to be the architect and operator to innovate and build new faster, cheaper, better processes leading to improvements for people, products, profits and the planet.


This has been a look at strategy, projects and change. It is not a definitive guide, nor a sequential check-list, but hopefully useful to indicate themes and share experience.

If you are interested in strategy, projects and change or would like checklists, templates, tools or training in any of the above elements or perhaps just a coaching conversation about how to customise and apply these ideas in your organisation please contact me or phone +44(0)7797762051

Tim HJ Rogers MBA
Mob 447797762051

ABOUT TIM: Tim's background includes BUSINESSS responsible for the incorporation of the Post Office and Ports of Jersey and Operations Change and Sales Support Manager for NatWest and RBS International his COMMUNITY INTERESTS include Jersey Policy Forum, hosting TEDx events and he is a Former Chair of Pharmaceutical Benefits Committee and member Public Accounts Committee, and SPORT INTERESTS Triathlon (Commonwealth Games 2006) & Ironman (2006-2016) and Rowing (World Champs 2009, 2010, 2016)

Sunday, 6 December 2020


In a recent coaching session a client talked about teams, membership, motivation and managing the perception of people inside and outside the team.

It is interesting to think about who is your "Team". Is it your peer-group of equals? Is it the people for whom your are the leader, manager, boss? Is it the community, club, clique, company, or profession to which you belong or identify?  Is the team vertical (includes those above and below in the hierarchy). This may be a simple answer, or you may find you have several relationships with different teams with similar or dissimilar aims, objectives and expectations.

What unites a team (goal, values, location, education, profession culture) also divides or separate it from others. So whatever we do to unite against a foe, enemy, rival may create an unhealthy simplification, conflict and personalisation against the other team(s) even within the same organisation.

We need to be wary of the cult in culture and focus teams upon the process and object (which we can change) rather than the personality and belief (which present moral or ethical issues). This is often a challenge of the conscious (thinking data, facts) over the unconscious (mind, experience, bias) and demands critical conversations within ourselves as much as with others.   

An interesting question is: Are you changing "things" to suit the community or the community to suit "things"?

If you are interested in people, projects or change get in contact. We love what we do and will happily have a coffee and a Zoom call to talk about what might work for you or your organisation.

Tim HJ Rogers
MBA (Management Consultancy) & Change Practitioner
PRINCE2, Agile and Scrum
Mob 447797762051