Best practices in succession planning

In times of a raging talent war when organizations can get crippled by a sudden vacancies in crucial middle or top level positions due to attrition, successful succession management is the key to survival and continued growth. This article reports on some best practices in succession management.

In the past Indian companies, especially those in manufacturing did not bother much about succession planning since you could always find enough people in the job market to fill up almost any position. With increasing globalization and the rise of outsourcing and 24/7 service operations when continuous operations and strict delivery schedules have become the norm in most top companies in the service sector, that the issue of succession planning has become crucial to survival and success.

It is in this context and as companies continue to struggle with the talent crisis, the following best practices have proven valuable in guiding companies towards successful succession management:

*Focus on Critical Positions*
Organizations have traditionally focused succession planning on senior management positions. The present situation of talent shortage requires expanding succession planning to other critical positions that have the biggest impact on organizational performance. For example, in information technology it may be key developers, team leaders or project managers, in life sciences this may be key research and development staff; in utilities, field service workers critical to continuous service delivery; and in health care, nursing care professionals.

*Integrate Employee Career Plans*
An integrated approach focused on identifying and retaining talent must be supported by a solution that can seamlessly link an employee’s career and development plan with the organization’s overall succession plans.

*Encourage Proactive and Actionable Development Plans*
Effective succession management relies on organizations to
provide opportunities and proactive suggestions for development that increase the readiness of candidates for future positions. By linking learning and development with succession and career
planning, organizations can positively impact the availability of talent to meet future requirements.

*Evaluate Depth, Breadth and Cohesiveness of technology solutions*
Investing in best-of-breed solutions that can expand to address the entire talent management life cycle — from developing to managing, optimizing, and rewarding — will enable organizations to maximize workforce productivity and ensure long-term business
success. Web-based succession planning solutions provide timely, continuous access to processes and data, allowing employees to
proactively “own” their career and development plans, straight from their own desktops.

By moving succession planning to the forefront of the corporate agenda and taking a proactive approach to leadership and employee development today, organizations are laying a
solid foundation for smooth leadership transitions in the future, thereby sidestepping the talent crisis.

Executed as part of an overall strategic talent management initiative, succession planning enables organizations to identify their current and future needs, and helps them align and develop talent accordingly. For succession to truly succeed, however, companies must focus on their employees’ career development.

Today, there are several technology solutions to the problem of succession planning, including software-as-a-service human capital management systems. Even SMBs can consider these technologies as they do not have the problems associated with setting up in-house systems requiring high investment in basic systems and infrastructure. Service-as-a-software systems exist on the service provider’s servers and are managed by them. All any company has to do is simply plug-in and use the service.

When choosing a service-as-a-software solution for human capital management, you can use the following checklist as part of your due diligence:
# How long has the vendor been offering the service?
# Does the solution offer components for all aspects of human capital management – core HR/Payroll, recruitment, performance management, learning management, compensation and succession planning – and are all all of the applications integrated into a holistic system?
# Does the vendor have reliable customer references?
# What kind of customer retention rate does the vendor have?
# What is the vendor’s uptime rate? 95-99 per cent is a good target range.

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