Getting the Most Out of Your Succession Planning Software

Studies show that software (particularly artificial intelligence and automation) are growing in popularity, and hybrid project management, which includes a combination of traditional and modern management (i.e., agile, scrum, software-based solutions), is significantly on the rise.[i] Given that succession planning is one of the most important strategic projects your company will undertake, it makes sense to consider whether software might be useful along the way. In this article, we’ll take a look at the benefits of using succession planning software and explain how you can make sure you’re getting the most out of your investment.

Benefits of Succession Planning Software

There are many benefits to using software, particularly for project management. Along with enabling and enhancing remote work and collaboration, software can help companies implement, manage, and sustain complex solutions. Benefits of these software, and succession planning software in particular, include:

  • Easily stores large quantities of data 
  • Organizes all information in one place 
  • Aids in standardizing process 
  • Supports scaling of process across company 
  • Tracks and measures progress overtime 

In addition to the benefits above, studies have shown that a well-managed succession plan can help support business continuity and increase engagement.[i] The use of succession planning has also been associated with reduced employee turnover, and more successful creation of succession plans and talent pools. [ii]Now, it’s important to keep in mind that these benefits pertain largely to the succession planning process; software alone won’t do the trick. That being said, it can certainly help! Below are a few ways you can make sure you’re getting the most out of your succession planning software.

How to Get the Most Out of Your Succession Planning Software

While software alone cannot plan for succession, it can certainly enable the process. Check out SIGMA’s introduction to succession planning software for a quick overview of the many solutions available. Once you have your software, make sure you get the most out of it. The following five tips can help you optimize your product use:

  1. Get familiar with the interface. Know how to navigate your software and find what you need.

  2. Read up on the features. Make sure you know what your succession planning software is able to do; this will help you take full advantage of the system, particular when it comes to analytics and data visualization.

  3. Update your data regularly. Software can only do its job if you do yours as well. Make sure you’re populating your system with quality data so that you can get meaningful results (as they say “garbage in, garbage out”).

  4. Review the data. In addition to updating your data, make sure you’re taking time to review. Set yourself a reminder to generate reports and spend some time analyzing trends and drawing conclusions.

  5. Make use of the data. After you’ve drawn your conclusions, be sure to put them into practice. Share results with your direct reports, your team, and your superiors. Keep everyone informed about the progress that’s being made and use your software to make data-driven decision about necessary changes or where efforts should be directed next.
Benefits of succession planning software

Overall, it’s important to remember that software can help you work, but it cannot do your work for you. Businesses are still responsible for developing their leaders and implementing their succession plans. This comes as a surprise to many decision-makers, who may have thought that by investing in succession planning software, they were ensuring that their goals would be accomplished. In reality however, software exists only to scaffold the process and as a result, many leaders find themselves disappointed with the limitations of a software-based plan.

Going Beyond the Software

In order to get the most out of your succession planning software, you will have to go beyond it. Know what your software can, and cannot do, and make sure that you are willing to do the rest. In particular, be prepared to implement the software and help employees understand and use its features. Also remember that you (or your team) will need to set metrics, track data, and analyze results; succession planning software can only help you store and summarize information along the way. [i]

What Succession Planning Software Can Do

  • Store all your information in one place
  • Provide templates for collecting data 
  • Generate reports, charts, and graphs to help you organize and depict information in a meaningful manner (i.e., talent matrices) 
  • Use algorithms to help you draw conclusions (i.e. shortlisting potential successors based on role requirements and candidate qualifications) 

What Succession Planning Software Cannot Do

  • Choose which data to track
  • Collect all data for you 
  • Make decisions for you 
  • Understand the complexity of individual character, skills, and team dynamics beyond quantifiable data entry 
  • Execute your strategy 
  • Develop your employees 

In addition to these succession-specific shortfalls, there are a few other limitations that apply to project management software in general. These include costly investments, complexity, lack of access control, and poorly designed interfaces.[i] Most software requires a capital investment, and/or recurring fees. These usually don’t have a high return on investment because software is left partially (or fully) unused. In fact, when it comes to enterprise resource planning (ERP) software such as succession planning programs, analysts estimate that that 55-75% of all projects fail to meet their objectives.[ii] This may be because ERP implementations cost more than expected, take longer than anticipated, and fail to deliver most business benefits.[iii] Only 4% of HR leaders feel they are effective at accurately assessing employee performance,[iv] and for many, the complexity of the software prevents companies from taking advantages of all the features available for use. Software complexity can also discourage employee buy-in, as people may be unwilling to learn how to use a new tool (much less one that is difficult to use).

So how do you keep your software investment from becoming a waste? Consider working with a succession planning consultant to get the most out of your money.

How to Keep Your Software from Becoming a Loss

For many decision-makers, software investments come with high hopes and good intentions. But they can also quickly become a sunk cost. Rather than leaving your succession planning software to sit unused, you can work with a consultant in order to implement your plan. Third party consultants who specialize in succession planning can help your team to set up the templates, establish the routines, and learn the thought processes needed to properly establish a robust system for succession planning. Working with a succession planning consultant helps companies save time, capitalize on expertise, and benefit from objectivity. Consultants can also provide accountability, ensuring your team stays on track to accomplish their development goals. Succession planning consulting is available in a variety of shapes and sizes; from introductory training programs to full-service consulting. These offerings can usually be customized to suit your company’s needs.

SIGMA’s Succession Planning Consulting & Training Services

If you’ve invested in a succession planning software and it hasn’t quite met your needs, SIGMA can help! We offer Succession Planning Training, which introduces leaders to our six-step succession planning process, and equips them to scale it across their organization. We also offer full-service consulting, where our succession planning experts deliver a custom 12-month succession plan for each member of your leadership team. Each of our services is based on academically developed, industry validated methodology, and can be paired with your succession planning software. To learn how SIGMA can help you accomplish six months of work in just two sessions, contact us today.

[i] Kashyap, V. (2021). Project Management Trends (2021): What does the Future Look Like. ProofHub. Retrieved from

[ii] Ceridian. (2021). Succession planning software. Ceridian. Retrieved from

[iii] Ibid.

[iv] Ibid.

[v] Donais, M. (June 12, 2017). Five Disadvantages of Project Management Software. Entry. Retrieved from

[vi] Deloitte. (NA). Your guide to a successful ERP journey: Top 10 change management challenges for Enterprise Resource Planning. Deloitte. Retrieved from

[vii] Panorama Consulting Group. (2016). 2016 ERP Report. Panorama Consulting Group. Retrieved from

[viii] BambooHR. (January 31, 2017). 34 Employee Engagement Statistics Every HR Pro Should Know [2020 Update]. HR Insights. Retrieved from

About the Author

Helen Schroeder

Marketing Coordinator

Helen completed a dual degree with Ivey Business School’s HBA program and Western University’s Honours Specialization in Psychology. As a Marketing Coordinator and Consultant she creates and manages content for SIGMA’s webpages, blogs, and coaching resources. Helen also assists in new product development, go-to-market strategy, and client consultation.