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How to make succession planning a success

One of the most overlooked, but crucial HR processes is backed by SAP SuccessFactors.

  • Dimitri Dupont
    Dimitri Dupont

When it comes to organization management, one of the often overlooked processes is succession management. This is no surprise; at the crossroads of talent management, staffing and strategy, different actors are involved, creating a natural dilution of responsibilities and making it easy to lose focus. So let’s set things straight.

The first step is to create a succession culture in your company. To fuel this process, you need a roadmap. Just like this one:

  1. Draw-up a complete and up-to-date organisation chart.
    This is the base for everything; having any doubts of the company structure should set off alarm bells, as you risk missing out critical positions.
  2. Evaluate and identify all key positions.
    This defines the exact scope of your succession plan, so you can go into as much detail as you want. A good practice is to start with a small set of highly critical positions of the company to get used to the exercise. In subsequent years, you just add to the list by taking less critical positions into account.
  3. Clarify job roles.
    This makes sure that expectations for the current jobholder and their successors are alligned.
  4. Identify key employees.
    Sometimes, a single person holds a lot of knowledge. Losing this could damage the company, so you need to identify and anticipate.
  5. Define future company strategies.
    Current key positions could become obsolete and vice versa; departments that were of lesser importance could become strategic in the future.
  6. Assess the risk for each critical position.
    Classical criteria are risk of loss, impact of loss, … These will then be used to identify the priorities in the succession action plan.

  7. Assess the skill gap between current employees and potential successors.
    Once this has been established, it’s a powerful indicator for training and coaching goals. 

  8. Check personal motivation of successors.
    Most of the time there will not be a communication to the successors for which positions he is defined as successor, nevertheless checking if he/she is interested in career growth is vital as the plan only makes sense if the company strategy and individual ambitions are aligned.

  9. Link the succession plan to your other HR processes.
    Make sure that the other HR processes (like performance and training plans) capture all defined actions. In addition, the recruitment team should be involved early to be ready for internal moves and mobility. 

If you follow these steps, your succession plan will be solid. However, it will only be a snapshot of the situation at a certain point in time. This is why this process will turn out more complex than it looked like at the start. You might need a little help. That’s where SAP SuccessFactors comes in.

SuccessFactors is a highly successful tool in this area, thanks to its Succession & Development module. This module integrates seamlessly with other processes (like performance, recruitment, organizational management, …), so you can create strategic succession planning that dives deep into the organization.

If you are interested to find out more about the process?


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