10 Best Succession Planning Software To Develop Future Leaders In 2022

If the last few years have taught us anything, it’s that the future is never certain. You may feel like your organization is in a good position right now, and that may be true today. But, do you have a succession plan in place for when your current leaders retire? Do you have enough redundancy to back-fill your other key positions? What’s your game plan if someone resigns unexpectedly, or is no longer able to work? 

Succession planning software organizes the planning process and puts plans into action. Succession planning tools will assess all candidates in your talent bench objectively, and uncover their hidden potential. They’ll also help you develop talent pools of future leaders, and offer tools to keep them engaged and developing in the meantime.

In this article, I’ll review the best succession planning tools in the HR software space, and explain how they can help your business ensure future success.

The Best Succession Planning Software List

Here’s the list of the best succession planning tools that I’ll cover in this article:

  1. PerformYard logoPerformYard

    Streamlined performance management system that fosters effective succession planning

  2. Eightfold.ai logoEightfold.ai

    Sophisticated talent intelligence platform with powerful AI-driven features

  3. ChartHop logoChartHop

    Dynamic visual charting tool with customizable employee engagement features

  4. TalentGuard’s Succession Management logoTalentGuard’s Succession Management

    Comprehensive talent management system that supports detailed talent pool comparisons

  5. SAP SuccessFactors logoSAP SuccessFactors

    Enterprise-level succession planning tool with built-in mentoring program capabilities

  6. Bullseye Engagement logoBullseye Engagement

    Comprehensive employee development platform with proven 10-step succession plan development process

  7. PeopleFluent logoPeopleFluent

    Flexible succession planning tool with built-in learning management system to facilitate upskilling

  8. Arcoro logoArcoro

    Visually rich employee assessment and development platform, well-suited for compliance-heavy industries

  9. Plum logoPlum

    Holistic suite of talent assessment tools, based on predictive psychometric data

  10. Cornerstone logoCornerstone

    HCM platform with deep workforce planning features like “what if” scenarios

Comparison Criteria

Wondering which features I look for when selecting the best succession planning tools? Here’s a summary of my evaluation criteria: 

  1. User Interface (UI): I appreciate visual elements that simplify the planning and evaluation process. This includes elements like visual employee scorecards and 9-box grids showing performance potential or skill maps. Visual dashboards and features like side-by-side comparisons, or dynamic organizational chart functions are also very useful.
  2. Usability: I prioritize systems that have straightforward processes, are easy-to-use, and incorporate data from other talent management systems or modules to reduce any data entry requirements. 
  3. Integrations: I look for systems that integrate with other commonly used HR software solutions, such as human resource information systems (HRIS) or learning management systems (LMS). 
  4. Value for $: While I always prefer software with transparent pricing models, those details aren’t always readily available. Instead, most of the software in this list is customizable depending on the modules you need. Therefore, the pricing isn’t published as a one-size-fits-all cost. 

Succession Planning Tools: Key Features

As you dive deeper into our list of the best succession planning software, you’ll notice they fall into several software sub-categories. Succession planning features are often rolled into talent management platforms or workforce planning tools. Or they may exist as modules within a larger HRIS or HCM (human capital management) system. That said, there are some common features you can expect from any of the top succession planning tools: 

  1. Talent pools and pipelines: Both are essential components of any succession plan. Talent pools are a shortlist of candidates you are assessing for a future role, and talent pipelines are a way to mark the most promising candidates for future advancement toward a specific role. 
  2. Advanced performance management and assessment features: Succession planning should always incorporate an employee’s performance history. Since we’re talking about planning the future of your business, it’s reasonable to assume you’ll naturally want to invest more in your highest performers. The best systems have integrated functions to assess competencies and skill gaps. 
    • Development plans: It’s one thing to tell an employee you’d like them to advance. It’s another thing entirely to show them how to get there, and give them the tools to make it happen. Development plans, often the output of advanced performance reviews, are concrete plans that spell out the skills and experiences required to get employees to the next level of their career. 
    • Comparative tools: To help you determine which candidate is best suited for a future role, features like side-by-side comparisons, scorecards, and skill matrices are very important.
  3. Advanced modeling tools: Since succession planning is all about securing a company’s future, advanced modeling tools are a basic requirement for success.
    • Dynamic organizational charting: Since most people are visual learners, dynamic organizational charts (org charts) are a key feature for any top-level succession planning tool. Charting features should include drag-and-drop changes, and past, present and future modeling options.
    • What if scenarios: While often tied to org chart modeling, “what if” scenarios are crucial in that they highlight specific situations that need addressing. They can be completed for all key leadership positions, as well as for other internal functions where you may have a lack of skill redundancy. For example, if only one person in your company knows how to process payroll, what’s going to happen if something happens to them? 

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Overviews Of The 10 Best Succession Planning Tools

Here’s a brief description of each succession planning software platform to showcase each tool’s best use case, and some noteworthy features. I’ve also included screenshots to give you a snapshot of the user interface. 

  • From $4-$8 /employee/month

PerformYard - Streamlined performance management system that fosters effective succession planning

PerformYard's customizable performance management tools make it easier for HR teams to spot employees with long-term advancement potential.

PerformYard is a performance management software that provides flexible features for HR teams to support an effective succession planning strategy. HR teams get the tools they need to identify high-performing team members for future opportunities, while employees get a streamlined experience so they can focus on development.

With PerformYard, you can customize the software to fit the strategy that’s right for your organization’s succession planning needs. For example, their performance management tools, including 360-degree reviews, project-based reviews, rating scales, continuous feedback, and cascading goals can be customized to include long-term career development prompts to tap into future advancement potential and goals.

PerformYard’s simplified employee experience helps facilitate useful feedback and quality conversations. They also provide dedicated customer success managers for every customer to manage their implementation from onboarding to employee training, to ongoing support.

PerformYard integrates with most major HRIS/Payroll systems including ADP, BambooHR, Gusto, Rippling, UKG, Paycom, Workday, and Paylocity.

PerformYard costs from $4-$8/user/month.

  • Pricing upon request

Eightfold.ai - Sophisticated talent intelligence platform with powerful AI-driven features

Eightfold’s powerful AI-based tools will scour your in-house talent pools to find the best candidates for open positions.

Use Eightfold’s Talent Intelligence Platform to create succession plans for every role in your organization. Rather than reviewing your succession plans once per year, their system’s sophisticated AI automatically assesses your talent pools to identify who would be best to step into each role at any given time. By automating their tool to make recommendations based on skills assessments, any bias or personal preferences are also avoided.

Their succession planning function is just one of many other useful talent management tools including career planning features to support internal mobility, upskilling and reskilling, plus talent mentoring and redeployment tools. Their whole system is built on top of a deep AI learning structure. In their words, that means their software “uses neural networks that learn from 1 billion+ profiles, billions of global data points, and 1 million+ unique skills, to deliver bias-free, data-driven insights.” Basically, it packs a pretty big punch in terms of their data strength.

They don’t list any software integrations on their website. However, customers will have access to an implementation services support team that can configure the system to work with the tools you’re currently using.

Pricing details are available upon request and a free demo can also be arranged.

  • From $3.50 USD/employee/month

ChartHop - Dynamic visual charting tool with customizable employee engagement features

Map out your entire workforce with ChartHop, including each member’s individual knowledge and expertise.

Visualizing your entire staff roster is easy with ChartHop’s dynamic charting tools. Their visual tools are perfect for organizations with rapid changes that want to capture a live org chart in real-time. The system is also well-designed to support headcount plans, scaling plans, succession plans, restructuring plans, and compensation plans. Other useful features include custom reports and tailored analytics, plus tools to assess tenure, key performance indicators (KPIs), goals and objectives, engagement and eNPS (employer net promoter score), and promotion rates.

The system is unique in that it helps users understand their corporate past while also planning for the future. You can time travel through different organizational charts to see how your company has evolved through the years. ChartHop also allows you to parse out your employee data however you want, which can be useful for new initiatives like DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion)a hot topic in the HR world right now.

ChartHop integrates with 30+ common HR software platforms such as BambooHR, Sapling, Google Suite, Slack, JobVite, Gusto, Zenefits, and many others. In their higher-tier support levels, you can also integrate ChartHop with your ATS (applicant tracking system) or set up other custom integrations too.

Pricing for ChartHop starts at $3.50 USD/employee/month. No matter which pricing level you choose, you can also add their Compensation Planning module for an additional $2 USD/employee/month.

  • Pricing upon request

TalentGuard’s Succession Management - Comprehensive talent management system that supports detailed talent pool comparisons

Create talent pools, flag skill gaps, and mark your high-potential employees for internal mobility using TalentGuard’s Succession Management platform.

TalentGuard’s Succession Management software is a cloud-based solution with features to support workforce enablement, competency management, and talent assurance. Their succession planning module helps you grow, optimize and accelerate your workforce with visual dashboards and easy-to-use tools. By categorizing employee skills and experiences and aligning them with current and future business needs, the system supports a continuous succession planning process, identifying high-potential employees and matching them with opportunities for internal mobility.

Using TalentGuard, managers can create personalized development plans for their employees, and access tools to help them with coaching. The system also allows managers and executives to compare up to four talent pool members side-by-side to analyze their match percentage for a vacant position, and compare their time-to-readiness factor, previous roles, skills, preferences, and experiences. The platform will also flag “at risk” positions, helping you avoid and plan for any possible skill gaps in the future. Visual learners will also appreciate their talent grid, which compares employee performance to specific position criteria, but in a visually digestible format.

TalentGuard integrates easily with learning management systems, applicant tracking systems (ATS), and common HRIS platforms.

Pricing details are available upon request. A free demo can be arranged via their website as well.

  • Free demo
  • Pricing upon request

SAP SuccessFactors - Enterprise-level succession planning tool with built-in mentoring program capabilities

SAP SuccessFactors’s Succession & Development software assesses employee talent profiles to find the best internal talent for key roles.

SAP SuccessFactors supports succession planning at the enterprise level with their Succession & Development software. Their system helps to ensure you place the right people in the right roles with a built-in tool to uncover hidden talent through a company-wide search of employee talent profiles. Tools to streamline competency and skill assessments, as well as a nine-box matrix rating grid, also help human resources teams identify the top and bottom performers in any team.

The system goes beyond just matching employees with roles and offers more features in the area of strategic succession management. This includes functions like assessing the risk and impact of a key talent loss, identifying employees who are flight risks, and tools for assessing your bench strength. Their “what if” scenario function also helps users plot the domino effect of proposed succession plans by generating different outcomes in a visually digestible way. Another rich feature I haven’t seen with other platforms is how SAP’s system creates mentoring programs and automatically matches mentors with mentees.

SAP can be set up to integrate with other software, either through their API or via pre-packaged integrations. They also have a full-feature mobile app for iOS and Android users too.

Pricing information is only available upon request after receiving a free demo.

  • Pricing upon request

Bullseye Engagement - Comprehensive employee development platform with proven 10-step succession plan development process

Bullseye Engagement’s comprehensive management solution can assess metrics for a wide range of HR and workforce planning functions.

Bullseye Engagement is an employee development platform that includes modules for succession planning, workforce planning, employee engagement, talent development, compensation planning, performance reviews including 360-degree feedback, operational and core HR functions, and ethics. The flexibility of their system makes it an attractive option, since you can pick and choose which modules to configure, depending on what you need.

Their succession planning tool is designed around a comprehensive 10-step planning process for executing successful succession plans, and can be linked with their additional talent bench strength module for added firepower. Their tool assists with the nitty gritty details of succession planning by asking key questions like: What tasks was this person responsible for? How long do we need to cross train someone for that role? And, what time frame are we looking at for the transition?

Bullseye integrates with Microsoft applications, as well as BambooHR, Centrify, Okta, OneLogin, Rackspace, Skillsoft and other common HRIS and ERP software platforms.

Pricing details are available upon request after arranging a live demo to determine the modules you need.

  • Free demo
  • Pricing upon request

PeopleFluent - Flexible succession planning tool with built-in learning management system to facilitate upskilling

Flag your top talent and create talent pools per position with PeopleFluent’s flexible employee development platform.

Built for businesses of all sizes, PeopleFluent helps companies hire, develop, engage and upskill their employees through a combination of key tools. In addition to succession planning tools, their system also has features for recruitment, performance, compensation, learning, talent mobility, and organizational charting.

Their succession dashboard is designed to help HR teams identify their top talent, and make data-driven decisions to guide their development towards fulfilling the next generation of leadership roles. You can develop talent pools for specific key positions, and map out career pathing options to ensure your next-in-line staff will be ready when a vacancy arises. The system includes tools to facilitate mentoring and create career development plans as well. Plus, their incorporated Learning Experience Platform makes it simple for HR managers to develop key staff and help them acquire the new skills they’ll need to advance.

PeopleFluent integrates with 20+ common HR software solutions including Affirmity, Breezy HR, CognosOnline, CourseWare, e-learnmedia, Gomo Learning, Hit Point, Open Sesame, Stratagile, VectorVMS, Watershed and others.

Pricing details are available upon request. A free demo is also available, and a free 30-day trial is available for their Learning Experience Platform module only.

  • Pricing upon request

Arcoro - Visually rich employee assessment and development platform, well-suited for compliance-heavy industries

Arcoro’s rich visual features like color-coded employee scorecards, a 9-box talent matrix, and graphically represented competency scores make it easy for managers to assess potential promotions.

Arcoro’s HR software platform helps HR teams hire, manage and grow their talent. Their system includes everything from an applicant tracking system (ATS) and onboarding tools, to performance management, learning management and succession planning tools. It’s a widely used option across industries with specific compliance, legal, and drug & background screening needs.

Their succession planning module works hand-in-hand with their performance management module, making it easy to assess employee competencies at a glance using their comprehensive employee scorecards. Managers and other decision makers can also assess employees using a 9-box talent matrix, which gives a clear visual of when an individual is ready for a promotion. Performance reviews within the system also feed into actionable development plans, making employees accountable for addressing any skill gaps before they can advance. As well, the platform also hosts a learning management system to help your staff with upskilling too.

Formerly known as BirdDogHR, Arcoro integrates with popular technology platforms such as Indeed, LinkedIn, ZipRecruiter, US.Jobs, Glassdoor, Quickbooks, and others.

Pricing details are available upon request. Via their website, you can also request a free HR Assessment to help you figure out which modules your business needs.

  • 14-day free trial
  • Pricing upon request

Plum - Holistic suite of talent assessment tools, based on predictive psychometric data

Plum’s platform helps managers spot high-potential employees and create customized development plans to keep them engaged.

Plum is a talent assessment platform that supports objective data-driven decision making throughout the employee lifecycle using predictive psychometric data. Wondering what that means exactly? Basically, their platform is built on decades of proven industrial/organizational (I/O) psychological research, meaning it has a lot more substance behind it than other talent management software solutions.

Beyond just succession planning, their platform offers a holistic suite of other talent assessment features such as tools for workforce planning, internal mobility, quantifying job fit, spotting hidden potential, growing people, and improving team work. The combined force of these modules allows management teams to build deeper succession pipelines by looking across their workforce to spot people with the right skills to succeed in critical roles.

Other helpful succession planning features include the ability to determine role needs and update job criteria for each position quickly and easily as things change. Objective performance measurement tools including a 9-box exercise also help to remove bias and guesswork from decisions around promotion. Lastly, you can create personalized talent development plans for all employees who are identified as potential successors, ensuring they’ll gain the skills and experiences they need to be successful.

Plum integrates with Greenhouse and SAP SuccessFactors right out of the box. However, their API can be used to connect with many other software solutions such as your HRIS (human resources information system), or ATS (applicant tracking system).

Pricing details are available upon request. A free demo and a 14-day free trial are also available.

  • Free demo
  • Pricing upon request

Cornerstone - HCM platform with deep workforce planning features like “what if” scenarios

Cornerstone’s side-by-side comparison feature lets users easily spot how their company structure has evolved over time.

Cornerstone is a data-driven workforce planning software that helps businesses align employees with their organizational goals. Their platform aggregates workforce data into visual formats that make it easy for key stakeholders to digest. As well, their system links details such as staff headcount, budget, performance and organizational structure together so you can make decisions quickly if your business environment changes unexpectedly.

The Cornerstone system supports succession planning through their scenario modeling feature. Using their “what if” models, you can create scenarios and run through potential changes to your organizational structure depending on a variety of factors. You can also compare past organization structures with the future, to see how your structure has evolved over time.

Cornerstone is technically an HCM (human capital management) platform. In addition to their deep workforce planning features, their platform has modules to support recruiting and onboarding, learning and development, performance management, engagement, and core HR data management.

Integrations with Cornerstone are not noted on their website, though they do have an API to support them.

Pricing details are available upon request. A free demo can be arranged via their website too.

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The 10 Best Succession Planning Tools Summary

Other Succession Planning Software Options

Here’s a few more succession planning tools that didn’t make the top list:

  1. Empxtrack - Customizable HRMS system supporting the full employee lifecycle, including succession planning tools
  2. Ingentis org.manager Suite - Powerful charting and scenario modeling tool that can visualize data from any source
  3. UKG Pro Succession - HCM platform with strong predictive analytics and employee retention tools
  4. Trakstar - Employee development platform with the ability to assess an entire workforce for their leadership potential, using a 9-box grid for performance and potential.
  5. Eloomi - Combined performance management + learning and development system that facilitates coaching conversations to help employees achieve long-term career goals like succession advancement.
  6. Lattice - Comprehensive system for employee engagement, performance management and employee development, which supports high-potential employees to achieve their development goals.
  7. SumTotal Succession Planning - Talent management software with the ability to identify employee skills, competency strengths, and gaps across an entire workforce, making it easy to assess the bench strength of your organization.
  8. PageUp - Comprehensive talent acquisition suite that supports the entire employee lifecycle, from recruitment and onboarding to performance management and succession planning - including additional tools to support DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion).
  9. Skills DB Pro - Robust skills management platform with deep features including succession planning, career pathing, skills gap analysis, AI-driven learning management, and an easy-to-use employee skills tracker and skill matrix.
  10. MentorcliQ - Award-winning mentorship software that drives employee engagement and employee satisfaction, and feeds into developing high-performers for future succession advances.
  11. Motivosity - Forward-thinking leader development tool that facilitates personalized succession plans, key player evaluations, and asks managers: who is going to fill your shoes when you get your next promotion?
  12. Mettl - A unique blend of succession planning tools including behavioral assessments, psychometric assessments, digital readiness assessments, domain tests, 360-degree feedback tools, and a virtual assessment center to tie all these data sources together.
  13. Gemini - Workforce planning software with advanced scenario planning tools, including dynamic org charts that support drag-and-drop “what if?” scenarios that can be compared side-by-side.
  14. Succession Wizard - Functional succession planning tool with lean implementation requirements - available as a free 14-day trial.
  15. Pinboard - Transparency and culture building tool that supports dynamic org charts capturing current and future reorg ideas - including a free succession planning downloadable template.

What Is Succession Planning? 

Succession planning is the process of planning for future leadership and management changes. It’s the act of creating a talent pipeline for key positions within your company and determining who has the right skills for those roles. But it’s more than simply adding the names of the next-in-line to a spreadsheet. Succession planning should be a thoughtful process.

When executed well, succession plans create development opportunities for existing employees to advance. With long-term plans aligned to their personal goals, employees will be more engaged in their roles and less likely to leave. With time for proper training and development, they’ll be able to step into a more senior role at short notice. It’s an essential component of improving employee retention and reducing employee turnover amongst your senior staff.

Why Is Succession Planning Important? 

Succession planning is a crucial component of ensuring business continuity and longevity. It ensures you have a plan in place for when leaders or other key employees resign, retire, or are no longer able to work. It’s also an important component of talent management within your company. By providing opportunities for advancement, your employees will have higher engagement in their roles and embrace their long-term future with your company.

While succession planning is certainly an essential function, the statistics may surprise you. Research from 2019 found that only 35% of organizations had a formal succession planning process in place.

Since then, of those companies that did have a leadership and development program in place, 70% have rescheduled or delayed them due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and only 15% have increased them. That’s a frightening trend considering the amount of baby boomers set to retire by 2030

Need more motivation? Don’t forget the financial impacts of having an under-developed succession plan. Harvard Business Review reports that the direct cost of replacing a failed executive can reach up to 10x their salary.

Related Read: HR Software: What It Costs And How To Decide What’s Best For Your Company

What Do You Think About This List?

Now that you’ve gained a deeper understanding of the importance of succession planning and the tools you need to do it, what will your next steps be? 

Did this article satisfy your curiosity? Or do you need additional information to help you with your workforce planning, strategy, and benefits

Still trying to wrap your head around these top-level HR processes? Take a look at our article on organizational development for some additional advice. 

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Related Read: 10 Best Employee Evaluation Software For Performance Reviews & Recognition