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Dave Foxall Succession Management Software: A Review of the 5 Top Systems

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 By Dave Foxall

Reviewing the Capabilities of 5 Top Succession Management Applications

Succession management software solutions (often part of a broader talent management suite of software) better enable organizations to identify, develop, and retain their star performers. In the past, the focus has been on backfilling strategies for senior and/or critical posts; however, the latest succession technologies are reflecting the emerging broader view that succession management should embrace an organization's future leaders at all levels. Indeed, as Gartner's Hype Cycle for Human Capital Management attests, "Enterprises are still concerned about "bench strength" — that is, having enough qualified resources in reserve to move into critical positions — but they have expanded the scope of use further down the organization". Regardless of conceptual focus though, the end goal remains on the identification and development of high-performers—an integral component of any current talent management strategy.

Even so, referring back to the Hype Cycle report, even Gartner admits that "The current generation of succession management tools has yet to be widely deployed"; a fact that could potentially be due to any number of issues—from lack of succession management process knowledge to trepidations concerning vendor capabilities. Indeed, although succession management software can net genuine benefits for any organization, potential buyers should take a cautious approach for a potential purchase this sophisticated, sizeable, and strategic. While analyst firms have noticed a marked increase in the succession management capabilities of the latest solutions, due diligence is still needed for any succession management software selection process. To help in that process, we have gathered 5 of the top succession software offerings here; in order to provide at least a cursory review of what organizations interested in this software should look for.

Succession Management Software Vendor #1: HRsmart

HRsmart's career development and SaaS succession planning software offering is an interactive solution for developing employees, increasing employee retention, and planning for the future needs of the organization. With a high degree of configuration, managers and employees can develop career paths together; identifying strengths, development areas, and development needs via detailed gap analysis leveraging. HRsmart's takes into account not only required skills, competencies and job experience but also the key factor of an employee's desire to hold the job in question. The system's functionality allows organizations to leverage:

  • 9-Box Capabilities - which identify those employees ready for advancement, in need of development, or in need of being transitioned out of a position or the overall organization. Included within the solution is filtering capabilities by location, job family, or division.
  • Multiple Career Paths - which are designed to aid in the creation of the next phase of an employee's career.
  • Development Plans - which develop top talent by creating plans to assist in needed growth or filling gaps required for advancement.
  • Succession Planning - which allow for future needs planning of the organization, and feature advanced search tools to uncover the best fit for future openings.
  • Gap Analyses - which quickly identify areas that need development and create a development plan or action item on a plan.
  • Domino Lists - which identify the strengths and areas requiring further work; allowing rapid insight into where gaps in planning may lie.
  • Mentor Assignments - which take advantage of skilled, successful employees by leveraging their experience and knowledge by mentoring less experienced employees.

HRsmart's career development and succession planning module integrates seamlessly with the company's Learning Management, Employee Performance and Organization Chart solutions.

Succession Management Software Vendor #2: Nakisa

SAP Talent Visualization by Nakisa (STVN) enables the broader monitoring and managing of the talent pipeline to successfully align the workforce with business objectives with sustainability in mind. Offering functionality which is explicitly focused on optimizing productivity; Nakisa competes as a succession management software product by establishing a sustainable workforce through the management of: competency requirements, key role vacancies, and key performance indicators. Key features of the system include:

  • Quick assignment of competency requirements to thousands of positions.
  • 9-box identification and analysis of talent gaps to trigger development and growth planning.
  • Dashboard views of key talent and workforce data.
  • Intuitive drag and drop modeling interface that enables collaboration with key stakeholders for review and approval of various scenarios.
  • Profile match feature recommends career paths based on competencies as well as organizational objectives.
  • Personal career goals tracking and visualization of competency gaps against current qualifications.

The Nakisa succession software solution also empowers employees in the management (in partnership with HR and management) of their own career aspirations within the organization. This engagement tactic in itself increases retention rates, while also aligning employee career development with the organization's business needs.

Succession Management Software Vendor #3: Saba

Saba's succession management software, Saba Succession, appears to have been built specifically for end-users and managers instead of just administrators. In fact, Saba Succession powers strategic succession planning, internal recruiting, and talent mobility initiatives; featuring functionality designed to foster the:

  • Identification of risks at critical leadership positions.
  • Development of bench strength that prevents costly business disruptions.
  • Mobilization of pivotal talent beyond divisional boundaries.

Saba Succession utilizes a "unified people profile", which sits at the core of the wider Saba People System, and contains performance ratings and competency data as well as informal measures of employee success and potential. The succession module also integrates with Saba's learning management solution to automatically generate development activities with future roles in mind, including formal and social learning as well as coaching and mentoring.

Succession Management Software Vendor #4: Pilat HR Solutions

Pilat HR Solution's succession management software, Succession Pulse, is part of the HR Pulse family of web-based products, and offers an extensive and configurable range of options to suit even the most demanding of clients. Succession Pulse collects data about all available talent; engages a range of informed individuals to identify opportunities to better deploy available talent; and plans for and delivers aggressive individual and team development to grow the available talent. The Succession Pulse functionality includes the following:

  • Extensive security, determining what employees can see, update, search, extract and report.
  • Employee resume – extensive range of multiple records such as languages, work history, future roles, aspirations (data exchange and sharing with an HRIS is enabled).
  • Identifying and validating Future Roles, and Development Pool or Talent Pool membership
  • Tracking of Performance, Potential, Readiness and Vulnerability
  • Tracking and validating multiple layers of Successor nominations
  • Searching for candidates using the powerful Query Manager
  • Creating ad-hoc reports easily and quickly using the Extract Manager
  • Locating and comparing future job holders based on competencies and/or demographic data organization and/or successor charting

Succession Management Software Vendor #5: SilkRoad Technology

SilkRoad Technology's succession management software, WingSpan, provides an objective, enterprise level approach to identifying, assessing, rating and managing the development paths of candidates in the context of succession planning. With including searching for candidates using profile and performance data, assessing candidates against identified competencies, candidate ranking, assigning appropriate development activities and managing each candidate development plan, WingSpan aims to provide an end-to-end succession management tool. Key features include the capabilities to:

  • Identify top talent with appropriate development activities.
  • Manage each candidate's progress against their unique development plan.
  • Deliver tailored career development plans based on identified future organizational needs.
  • Configure a variety of succession planning scenarios based on industry best practices.
  • Define multiple position pools.
  • Perform evaluations based on employee's talent profile and configurable box matrix report.
  • Allow employees to understand the succession planning process and their job's impact on the organization's overall mission.

What About the Future of Succession Management Software?

Research may well indicate that succession management solutions are teetering on the edge of little to early adoption, but that doesn't mean that there aren't still a number of quality products on the market. Indeed, as clearly evidenced by the five vendors above, these solutions represent a real value that succession management software can provide to an organization. As for the future, Gartner heartily recommends to embrace (with a suitably cautious selection process, of course) succession management technology. Indeed, as the research firm puts it, "Use succession management solutions — integrated with employee performance management, career development and learning solutions — to develop and retain the next generation of leaders." End

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As Gartner's Hype Cycle for Human Capital Management attests, "Enterprises are still concerned about "bench strength" — that is, having enough qualified resources in reserve to move into critical positions — but they have expanded the scope of use further down the organization".


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