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Companies must strategize and plan their activities and execute those activities as planned to reach the top of the pile. Today’s businesses cannot be run the way they were a decade ago, given the surging customer expectation today for new and improved products and services.  Companies need to innovate all the time and come up with new products to meet customers’ expectations of today and they also need to anticipate their desires of tomorrow since it is the only way to stay ahead of the herd.  New products alone cannot pave your road to growth; you need solid workable strategies on all fronts of your business – Marketing, finance and supply chain – to win you the race. What if your key manager heading the Supply Chain is not available to you when you need to strategize on a new product that you propose to launch soon? Do you think you still can come up with as good a strategy?

Faced with the prospect of crunch for talented resources worldwide, companies are rushing to plan succession to every key position that would go vacant when people retire, resign or go on long leaves due to pressing personal reasons.

Factors are many that have been identified for current scenario of scarce resources across the globe. The foremost few are as follows:

  • Cost reduction drives in late 80s and early 90s led to removal of the mid-level roles and people serving in them. Traditionally, companies would choose and groom the right ones among them to take over when a top executive leaves.
  • Not all of the current generation of managers are yet ready as they have not been groomed and exposed to meet the role requirements.
  • Simultaneous retirements of people in key posts and the business entities have not planned for replacements for all these positions.
  • Demand for resources with exposure to top management positions has increased significantly with the mushrooming of new ventures and start-ups.

Why do you have to manage successions?

Companies need a good HR team to identify the key roles, people with potential to step into those roles and to groom them to take over from their seniors.  A good succession plan would consider all likely scenarios such as retirements, midway exits and unplanned long leaves of absence of people holding key positions that call for resources to step in to plug up any likely crack. In essence they need a second line of management equipped to take position in such situations and ensure that the business is run as it has always been.

A robust succession plan would include not just the replacements for top positions. Key positions at other levels should also be identified and planned for, if the companies want a comprehensive insulation from any surprises, given the vagaries of nature. The following are some suggestions that would serve you well in drawing up a good succession plan:

Succession Plan:

  • The future business plans of the company should be available to the team entrusted the work of planning the successions.  The skills, knowledge, experience, attitude of the resources that you choose for the roles would differ with the nature of business the company proposes to get into – expansions, new ventures or mergers.
  • The team needs to appraise itself of the different needs in the context of organization’s future goals in advance and assess what’s needed to achieve them via strategic planning and prioritization of projects and sprints.
  • Match these needs to the capabilities of the current workforce.
  • Build up a backup plan should gaps and cracks be formed due to the departure of key individuals, whatever their reasons.
  • If resources available internally fall short of the competence level required for a role(s), recruitment process should start to hire a competent resource from an external source.

Employee data that succession management software collects, stores and presents to us provide us valuable inputs for planning successions. Data on employee assessments from Performance Management Software should flow into this software as they can provide valuable insights on the potentials of individual employees. Assessment data would contain details of employees on the job performance, skills, competency among others.  Further, the software makes available, employees’ history like the trainings they have undergone and their performance over the years that they have been with you.

These applications allow us to organize the resources and create a pool of similar talents who possess the potential required to take up certain open managerial positions.

Top Solutions in the market:

1.    Oracle Taleo Cloud Service

Taleo Enterprise is part of the talent management solution suite from the Oracle stable. Taleo Enterprise has the following features on offer:

  • Nine-box matrix that can be configured to the needs of the organization. Choose an employee from Talent Pool. Drag and drop for immediate assessment of different succession scenarios to draw up a considered succession plan.
  • Can organize a talent pool consisting of internal and external candidates who have the skills and the competence level required for a key position.
  • Side-by-side comparisons: Spot the talent quickly with the table that compares employees’ competence level, skill, education and experience.
  • Development plans: Understand quickly the training needs for bridging the knowledge gap.
  • Succession plans: Fetches employee data from other HR modules like Performance Management, Recruitment and On-boarding and presents here to help draw a complete succession plan.

2.    Saba’s Succession@Work solution

Saba’s succession planning application, Saba’s Succession@Work, has following features on offer:

  • Succession planning for all levels, automatic talent pooling and development plans.
  • Features for employees are career growth planning with what-if scenarios and course recommendations.
  • Identify right talent for a critical position with powerful search engine.
  • Side by side comparison of employees based on their competencies and other criteria defined as crucial. N-box comparison is also available.

Saba’s Succession@Work solution easily integrates seamlessly with Saba’s LMS. With this integration, development plans for the employees can be charted out.

3.    PeopleFluent® Succession Planning

Peoplefluent Succession Planning has the following features on offer:

  • Interactive organization charts that helps you create a talent pool.
  • Create talent pools for critical positions.
  • Side by side comparison of employees based on their competencies and other criteria defined as crucial.

4.    SAP Talent Visualization by Nakisa (STVN)

SAP Talent Visualization helps mid-size businesses and enterprises plan and manage successions for key roles in their organization. Following are the features on offer in this product:

  • Powerful search engine that enables identifying the right talents in a jiffy
  • Spot employees with required competency levels using strong tools
  • Configurable nine-box grid matrix to place and identify employees who can step into critical positions if requirement should arise without serving much notice
  • Gauge employee performance vis-à-vis potential with drag-and-drop utility

5.    Ultipro from Ultimate Software Solutions

Ultimate Software is a well-known solution provider of human capital management (HCM) applications.

It has strong predictive analytics and offers you the following capabilities to analyze and arrive at succession planning for your key positions:

  • Suggest career directions to employees
  • Search out and evaluate individuals in talent pool
  • Spot ideal candidates and employee exit risks


Succession management solutions are yet to evolve into products that would meet all of your requirements of today. Yet, the above recommended products are capable of helping you manage successions to critical positions in your company. Managing succession planning with spreadsheets is definitely not advisable. We all are aware of the danger of one excel format that takes different versions of the same plan with different users. As suggested by Gartner, companies must use succession management solutions integrated with employee performance management, career development and learning solutions.



Product Name Oracle Talent Management Cloud Succession


Total Talent Management Nakisa Talent Management UltiPro
Product Seller by Oracle by Saba


by People-Fluent by Nakisa by Ultimate Software
Target Market
Who Uses This Software? Enterprise Small, Mid-size and Enterprise Small and Mid-size Mid-Size and Enterprise Mid-Size and Enterprise
Target Customer Size (Users) 500 – 1000+ 50 – 1000+ 10 – 499 Not available 1000+
Free Trial Yes No No Not available No
Product Details
Installed – Windows No Yes No No No
Installed – Mac No Yes No No No
Mobile – iOS Native No Yes No No No
Mobile – Android Native No Yes No No No
Cloud, SaaS, Web Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Employee Profile Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Competency Scale Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Organizational Charting Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Performance Management Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
9-Box Competence Analysis Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Succession Management Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Note : All the above features may not be part of vendor’s succession planning module.
Online Yes Yes No Yes Yes
Business Hours No Yes Yes Yes Yes
24/7 (Live Rep) Yes Yes Yes No Yes
On site No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Live Online Yes Yes Yes No Yes
Webinars Yes Yes Yes No Yes
Documentation Yes Yes Yes No Yes


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