Nowadays, it seems there is software for everything. There are software that help you brainstorm, set and achieve goals, communicate with others, even organize and clean (though unfortunately software will only clean your computer, not your entire house). There are also a variety of software for succession planning that you can use to aid your leaders in their process. As a strategic process aimed at developing people potential, succession planning has traditionally occurred without the use of much technological support. However, a robust succession plan should follow an evidence-based process that includes data used to inform candidate nomination, monitor development efforts, and track progress over time. For processes like these, software can be very useful in storing, organizing, updating, and easily accessing data. In this article we explore a few options your team might find useful to strengthen your succession planning process.

Database and Storage Solutions

When looking for technical solutions, teams often invest directly in specialized software. There are, however, a few simpler and more cost-effective options to consider first. If your organization has already established a succession planning process, along with candidate profiles, development plans, and other documents or spreadsheets, you may be better serviced by a database that allows you to organize existing resources, rather than developing entirely new templates and transferring existing information. If this is the case for your team, consider whether you can set up folders in your company’s enterprise database where resources can be stored in an easy-to-use manner. This may require creating a document that outlines where to find what information. Documents should be accessible across departments to create a unified database of human capital for the entire organization. If your company does not have an enterprise database, consider implementing a similar process using a cloud (Google Cloud, Microsoft OneDrive, Dropbox, etc.).

Some people are unaware that it is also possible to create your own database software. These are custom applications that can be designed to suit the specific needs of your project or organization. Most of these options require no coding and can be built with little technical knowledge, making them accessible not just to IT Departments, but to executives, managers, and other professionals like yourself. Take a look at software such as TeamDesk, Caspio, InfAnywhere, or Knack to learn how you can create your own database software, custom built for your succession planning process.

Specialized Succession Planning Software

If you decide that your company is in fact looking for specialized succession planning software, there are many options available to you. Capterra has listed 38 top succession planning software products here, and we’ve highlighted some of the best, along with their features below:

ERP Configuration and Customization

If specialized succession planning software still doesn’t seem to fulfill your needs, there are two other alternatives, the first being ERP configuration or customization. ERP stands for Enterprise Resource Planning and refers to software that are used to manage day-to-day business activities such as accounting, procurement, project management, risk management, compliance, and supply chain operations.[i] However, enterprise resources also include human capital, therefore ERP software can be configured or customized to support talent development processes like succession planning.

The key benefit of ERP systems is that they use a single data source, which eliminates data duplication and provides data integrity. This is done by connecting business processes and allowing data to flow between them. Depending on your existing ERP structure, you may be able to configure your current systems, or customize a new solution that will fit your needs:

  • Configuration: You can configure your existing ERP to add settings, parameters, or personalization that may be beneficial in your succession planning process. Configuration usually does not require coding, but rather changes that are relatively basic (e.g., adding flags or changing the order of labels or fields).
  • Customization: If you require more extensive changes you may want to consider ERP customization, where new features are added to the software. These almost always require a change to the system’s source code, but they enable more complex features like custom reports or integrations between ERP solutions and third-party applications.

It is noteworthy that ERP customization requires a sizeable investment of budget and time (i.e., design, deployment, and testing expenses). Reviews show that ERP implementations are usually behind schedule, over budget, and fail to deliver on expectations.[ii] Not only that, analyst firm Gartner estimates that 55-75% of all ERP projects actually fail to meet their intended objectives.[iii] Fortunately, there is another alternative besides ERP available to you.

HRMS

If the idea of customizing your ERP is overwhelming, another solution would be to invest in a simple HRMS. HRMS stands for Human Resource Management Software, and unlike ERP these software are designed specifically for the use of HR professionals, in HR departments, for HR-related operations. HRMS can be used to recruit, identify, hire, onboard, retain, and develop talent, in addition to housing performance management modules. Many ERP software providers have created HRMS (see below), and these software are likely a simpler alternative to configuring or customizing your existing ERP.

Examples of recommended HRMS software are listed here, and we have highlighted a few bellow:

Looking to Learn More?

No matter how strong your software is, the key to succession planning is having a strong plan. This is something your management will need establish on its own, before you can use software to help you augment the process.

If you’re looking for support on establishing and maintaining a strong succession plan, SIGMA is here to help! Our Succession Planning Launch Series will guide your team in completing six months of work in just 2 half-day sessions. We deliver a custom 12-month succession plan for each of your organization’s critical roles and walk you through the implementation. We also support the process with templates, activities, and suggested timelines to ensure your succession plan will thrive. These resources can then be organized by the software described above.

Want to start small? No problem! You can also register for one of SIGMA’s open-enrollment Succession Planning Certification Workshops. In these workshops we’ll introduce our six-step succession planning process and train you on how to scale it across your organization. For more tools and templates, check out our resources, download our Succession Planning Guide, or contact us below.


[i] Oracle. (2020). What is ERP? Oracle. Retrieved from https://www.oracle.com/ca-en/erp/what-is-erp/.

[ii] Oracle. (2020). What is ERP? Oracle. Retrieved from https://www.oracle.com/ca-en/erp/what-is-erp/.

[iii] Deloitte. (NA). Your guide to a successful ERP journey: Top 10 change management challenges for Enterprise Resource Planning. Deloitte. Retrieved from https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/mx/Documents/human-capital/01_ERP_Top10_Challenges.pdf.