• May 13 2024

Best Succession Planning Tools & Software

Succession planning is a critical yet often overlooked tool for building a resilient and future-proof organization. By identifying high-potential talent and developing their skills strategically, you ensure your organization is prepared to weather leadership transitions and maintain its competitive edge.

Preparing capable successors is a complex initiative, involving cross-functional stakeholders and multi-step processes to align capabilities to organizational goals, assess talent, and measure leaders’ readiness to step into executive roles. Many HR and talent teams benefit from outside resources and support to help them manage this process. 

This blog explores the different types of tools and resources available to support your succession planning efforts, from comprehensive software solutions to practical templates and expert guidance.

Succession planning software

Succession planning software provides a comprehensive suite of features designed to streamline and optimize the entire succession planning process. These tools are often integrated with broader talent management platforms, workforce planning systems, or HRIS/HCM solutions, offering a centralized hub for managing your leadership pipeline.

Common features within these software solutions typically include:

Talent identification & assessment: Identify high-potential employees through skills assessments, performance data analysis, and 9-box grids, pinpointing individuals with the potential to fill critical roles.

Leadership development planning: Features to create and track individual development plans for potential successors, including goal setting, learning opportunities, and coaching assignments.

Reporting and analytics: Dashboards and reports that provide insights into the overall health of your succession plan, identify potential gaps, and track progress.

Collaboration tools: Features that facilitate communication and collaboration between stakeholders involved in the process.

Some popular examples of succession planning software include:

  • SAP SuccessFactors Succession & Development
  • UKG Pro Succession
  • PeopleFluent
  • TalentGuard
  • Plum

Succession planning templates

While not as comprehensive as dedicated software, succession planning templates can be a valuable starting point for organizations just beginning their journey. These templates can be:

Free online templates: Leveraging over a decade of experience guiding succession planning efforts, ExecOnline has developed a free 5-step workbook packed with expert tips and practical templates. This comprehensive resource empowers you to identify and develop high-potential successors, ensuring smoother leadership transitions within your organization.
Download the 5-step succession planning workbook>>

Internal spreadsheets: You can create your own spreadsheets to track key information about potential successors, their skills, development needs, and potential timelines. Simple succession planning spreadsheets can include:

Tracking critical roles in need of succession and the capabilities required to succeed in those roles:

example table to track executive positions in need of succession plans

Tracking potential successors and their capability gaps related to their target role:

Example table to track the capabilities of potential executive successors

Tracking successor development activities aligned to needed capabilities:

Example table to track leadership development activities to prepare leaders for executive successors

Executive development for successors

A study conducted by the Corporate Executive Board (CEB) found that 50% to 70% of executives fail within 18 months of taking on a role. This high failure rate can be a significant setback for your organization.

Investing in executive development programs bridges the gap by equipping your high-potential employees with the critical skills, knowledge, and capabilities they need to thrive in their future C-Suite roles. These programs not only benefit your future leaders but also ensure a smooth transition and continued success for your organization.

Here are some tools to help you design effective successor development programs:

Ultimate Guide to Developing Successors: Ensure the right talent is ready to step up with this actionable blueprint to design and build an executive development program that strengthens succession pipelines and accelerate succession readiness.
Download guide »

Proven learning paths for CXO successors: These sample learning journeys align executive development with real-world challenges and organizational strategy, reinforcing knowledge through practical, hands-on application and personalized coaching.
Download learning paths »

Expert guidance to accelerate succession planning

Navigating the complexities of succession planning can be challenging. Partnering with experienced consultants or leveraging expert guidance can provide valuable insights, best practices, and support throughout the process. Here are a few key reasons to consider hiring a succession planning consultant: 

Objectivity and perspective: Experts with external perspective can reduce the risk of bias in the successor identification and assessment process and help ensure the most qualified candidates are developed to lead.

Strategic alignment: Consultants can be instrumental in keeping complex succession planning initiatives tightly aligned to organizational goals. 

Executive search: In instances where no internal candidates are ready to step into a critical role, consultants may be hired to identify and vet qualified external candidates. Executive search consultants typically boast an in-depth knowledge of industry executives, professional specializations, and a broad network that can yield a stronger candidate pool than internal HR and talent teams. 

Risk mitigation: Hiring a consultant can help anticipate and mitigate risks associated with hiring, leadership transition processes, talent gaps, and internal and external communication about succession planning. 

Benchmarking and evaluation: Specialists can be hired to build and track a list of key performance indicators (KPIs) for your succession planning initiatives that are relevant, aligned to organizational objectives, and measured on an appropriate time scale. 

By combining the right tools, resources, and expert guidance, you can build a robust succession plan that fosters leadership development, ensures organizational continuity, and positions your company for long-term success.

With more than a decade supporting companies of all sizes prepare their successors for leadership roles, ExecOnline can offer valuable advice, etc, etc.

Need help choosing the best leadership development solution?

If you are considering a leadership development partner to support you throughout your succession planning journey, there are many considerations and criteria to keep in mind. That’s why we’ve written a comprehensive buyer’s guide to choosing the best leadership development solution.

The guide–packed with a decade of expert insights–will help you to navigate the intricacies of selecting a leadership development solution, weigh the pros and cons of different approaches and capabilities, and make a well-informed decision that aligns with your organization’s goals and needs.

Talk to us

ExecOnline has developed more than 125K leaders at some of the world’s largest and most influential companies. Interested in learning how our top-ranked leadership development programs can benefit your organization?

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