Succession planning with your HRMS


Succession planning is one of those areas which can make a big difference inside your organization – a structured process to put the right employees into the appropriate career paths, enabling them with training so that your company productivity can soar. An HRMS can take your succession planning to new heights, developing a bench strength that prevents costly business disruptions.

Very quickly, what is succession planning?

Effectively, succession planning is about futureproofing your workforce by ensuring you have people capable of covering or moving into key positions. This involves identifying candidates, providing learning and development to establish the necessary skills and experience, and offering the right incentives and compensation to retain these ‘future leaders’; all as part of your overall talent management strategy.

In a pre-HRMS world

Prior to having an HRMS, most organization’s succession planning was (and is) often a manual exercise for an HR department, involving sticking biographies and other employee details to a wall in a giant tree structure and then moving pieces of paper around to reflect various scenarios. With a paper-based process, it is difficult to track the necessary follow-up activities. Training and development plans were often lost or misplaced, or forgotten about until a critical position opens up and suddenly everybody’s searching for the plan!

Learn how to gather your HRMS requirements to select the right system for your HR team's needs

An HRMS with succession planning capabilities changes that by automating the process, including the crucial follow-up, better enabling you to spot (and keep track of) your high performers.  

Key HRMS succession planning functions

If you’re looking for an HRMS to support your succession planning, many systems offer some or all of the following functions and features. All you have to do is decide what your organization needs…

  • Use of best practice succession planning scenarios, and identification of critical roles and positions that require support from the succession planning process.
  • Identification of employees ready for advancement or with the potential to do so. Often using some variation of a 9-box potential/performance matrix. Results should be able to be filtered by location, role/discipline, and position in the organizational structure.
  • Prepared career paths offering a clear route for development and progression, based on the organization’s anticipated needs.
  • Mapping of key roles to an in-house competency framework to identify the objective skills, knowledge, and experience required.
  • Search facilities to locate best-fit internal candidates for specific roles; cutting across existing structural silos and disciplines where appropriate.
  • Gap analysis and personal training and development plans, assessing individual experience and skillsets and focusing on gaining future-critical skills.
  • Links to the HRMS learning management module, enabling translation of individual learning goals into personalized learning activities.
  • Tracking of progress against career goals and development plans.
  • Mentor management – mentoring is a common technique used to develop individuals towards specific goals. Some HRMS can help identify mentors and then match them to candidates with potential.
  • Data is available for viewing and analysis via an easy-to-access dashboard for key managers.
  • Creation of standard and tailored reports and analytics, creating a detailed forward view of key roles and vacancies, and also showing the impact of subsequent succession planning activities.

The ideal is not only to select and search for the combination of features that suit your needs, but also to source a solution with potential for configuration and customization. The flexibility allows you to control your own succession planning process, orienting it towards the specific roles critical to you.

Using competencies as a framework for assessment

Organizationally, most companies of size use a variation of a competency framework, a series of skills and knowledge statements, structured according to level of ability or execution. Specific competencies are assigned to critical roles and then used as the benchmark to assess individual candidates in terms of readiness and potential. Competency statements offer a measurable framework used to define a role in such a way as to track progress towards it over time. Having identified competency gaps, an HRMS can recommend the training to bridge them. Furthermore, the recordkeeping aspect of your HRMS means this data is always available, a developing picture of your future employee potential that can be used as an evidential basis for decision making.

Using an HRMS as the pivot and enabler for your succession planning procedures results in time and cost savings for HR as well as others involved in these transactions. Not least because having all of the relevant data in one system for these processes is an immense improvement over pre-HRMS times.

However, this part of your HRMS needs to be more than just a static holding pen for data. Effective succession planning relies on taking the next steps based on that data; actively using it to add value to the business. 

On the employee side, an open and transparent, data-driven, objective succession planning process increases levels of empowerment and retention (helping to retain the very people you’ve identified you would least like to lose). Such a system effectively empowers your high flyers to take personal control of their career development, working in partnership with senior managers and mentors for their future within the business.

Originally written by Heather Batyski

author image
Dave Foxall

About the author…

Dave has worked as HR Manager for the Ministry of Justice for a number of years, he now writes on a broad range of topics including jazz music, and, of course, the HRMS software market.

author image
Dave Foxall

Featured white papers

Related articles