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With so many different succession planning software available, figuring out which is the best fit for you is tough. You know you want software to help you identify and develop new leaders and prepare for employee turnover, but you need to figure out which tool is best. In this article, I'll help you make your choice easier by sharing my insights on the best succession planning software to uncover hidden talent, spot potential leaders, and plan for your organization's future needs.

What is Succession Planning Software?

Succession planning software is a tool organizations use to help them identify and prepare internal talent for key leadership positions in the future. This type of software includes tools to identify high-potential employees, create tailored employee development plans, and monitor employee performance towards development goals. They also allow you to create succession models for different leadership change scenarios so your organization is ready if a key member of your leadership team resigns or needs replacing.

Succession planning software helps organizations improve employee engagement and retention for high-potential employees, and supports better data-driven strategic planning through skill matching and unbiased candidate comparisons. In addition, it helps organizations proactively reduce potential risks of leadership changes and future-proof their company for any unexpected circumstances.

Overviews of the 10 Best Succession Planning Software

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.

Mentor matching platform to match future leaders with executives and seniors

  • Free demo available
  • Pricing upon request

Qooper is an employee learning platform with the capacity to create personalized learning plans for employees and pair mentors and mentees for coaching and development. Organizations can use the software to create role-specific growth plans for individual contributors and to match potential leaders with mentors they can work with towards their goals.

Learning programs can include video content and assessments as well as podcasts and articles. All learning materials can be stored and organized within the software, making it easy to repurpose items for multiple learning programs and keep content up-to-date. Groups can be established in the software for cohorts of employees to partake in specific training or learning initiatives together, at the same time.

As for leadership development, the standout feature offered in the system is its mentorship matching tool. Employees can be paired with a senior staff member or someone external who has expertise in their job function. Mentors and mentees can conduct their coaching sessions directly in the software, using its meeting agendas, icebreakers, and mentorship activities to guide them. Goal setting and tracking is also available in the platform.

The software integrates with several other SaaS tools including ADP, BambooHR, Google Workspace, Microsoft Teams, Oracle, Outlook, Slack, Workday, and Zoom. Pricing is available upon request.

Best for pairing employees with mentors for professional development

  • Free demo available
  • Pricing upon request
Visit Website
Rating: 4.8/5

MentorcliQ is a mentoring software and services provider. The platform is highly customizable and can be set up to suit the specific needs of your business. Meanwhile, the company's team of experts can support you in planning and executing a mentorship program at your business to enable your succession planning.

You can use the software to facilitate mentorship at your organization and connect mentors and mentees. Its algorithm pairs up team members with mentors who are well-matched to their professional development goals. The company also provides mentorship training to ensure mentors are well set-up to provide guidance and support their mentees in their professional development.

Analytics and reporting tools are also included in the platform. You can track and measure the success of your mentorship programs, and use this data to inform your succession planning. Automated communications can also be set up to keep both mentors and mentees in the loop on any updates or changes in the program.

The software integrates with other popular workplace tools like Workday, UKG, Slack, Microsoft Teams, SAP Success Factors, Outlook, Zoom, Cornerstone, and Google Workspace. Pricing information is available upon request, as is a free demo.

Best performance, compensation, and learning management in an HCM system

  • 90-day free trial + free demo available
  • From $5/employee/month + $99/month base fee
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Rating: 4.1/5

Paycor is a comprehensive Human Capital Management (HCM) system. It covers various HR functions including workforce and talent management, employee experience management, payroll and benefits administration, and more. The talent and experience modules are useful tools to facilitate succession planning at your organization.

With the system's talent management capabilities, you can not just recruit and onboard top talent for open roles but also nurture the existing talent at your company. Both talent development and compensation management and planning tools are available. This includes 1-on-1 performance conversations between employees and managers and individual goal setting, as well as the ability to outline a clear and comprehensive compensation structure for your organization.

As for the employee experience features in the product, they include learning and career management tools. You can set up custom training programs to help staff upskill in their roles. You can also develop career paths and set up employee profiles to help team members envision their future with your organization.

The software starts from $5 per employee per month, with a $99 base fee. A 90-day free trial is available.

Best for performance, growth, goals, and compensation management in one place

  • Free demo available
  • From $11/user/month
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Rating: 4.7/5

Lattice is a complete people management platform, with tools to monitor employee performance and growth, set and track goals, measure employee engagement, and manage compensation. You can craft personalized career trajectories for employees, helping them see a path forward and keep track of their own development. Goals and OKRs can be set at both an individual and company level, allowing each team member to see how they're contributing to the broader company objectives.

As for performance management, HR teams can set up customized performance review processes for all managers to follow. This ensures performance is being tracked consistently across the organization, and helps create an even playing field for growth opportunities. Managers and employees can conduct and keep records of their one-on-one meetings, helping them stay accountable for action items and follow up on their commitments.

Having performance, goals, and growth in the same platform creates clarity for employees and managers alike. Additionally, compensation can be managed with Lattice. Performance data from reviews, feedback exchanges, goal tracking, and one-on-one meetings is all available to inform decisions about pay, raises, and promotions.

The platform integrates with many commonly used human resource information systems (HRIS), including ADP, BambooHR, Namely, Personio, Rippling, Workday, and Zenefits, as well as other popular software platforms such as Gmail, Outlook, Microsoft Teams, Slack and others.

Pricing starts at $11 per employee per month, with additional add-ons available for Engagement, Growth and Compensation tools. A free demo is also available.

Streamlined performance management system that fosters effective succession planning

  • Free demo available
  • From $5-$10/user/month
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Rating: 4.8/5

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 $5-$10/user/month.

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

  • Free demo available
  • Pricing upon request
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Rating: 4.2/5

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.

Powerful charting and scenario modeling tool that can visualize data from any source

  • Free demo + free trial available
  • Pricing upon request
Visit Website
Rating: 4.7/5

Visualize your HR data in a whole new way with Ingentis org.manager Suite. Their software can automatically display organizational structures and HR data in a customizable way, based on any kind of data source. With no coding required, all their data visualizations are created via custom configurations, giving people management teams the opportunity to request visual dashboards that are organization-specific.

With visual modeling at its core–including workforce modeling and what if scenarios–it’s easy to see the value in using Ingentis org.manager Suite as a tool for succession planning. Using their system, you can create fully automated organizational charts to share with all employees, plus more detailed versions including an effectiveness analysis option for management teams only. The tool is also able to handle big data visualization, so you can feed it your HR analytics data in whatever format it exists in, and it will simulate models for you to help with scenario planning and making informed business decisions.

Special integrations exist for SAP SuccessFactors HCM and Oracle HCM systems, as well as Microsoft products including Microsoft Teams, and 15 other HR software solutions. Their software support webinar schedule is posted on their website and sessions are free to attend so you can learn more about how their system could work for you before committing.

Pricing details are not available on their website, but other sources suggest it has a one-time fee of $1,750 USD per license. A free demo and free trial can also be requested via their website.

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

  • Free trial + free demo available
  • Pricing upon request
Visit Website
Rating: 3.8/5

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.

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

  • 30-day free trial + free demo
  • Pricing upon request
Visit Website
Rating: 3.3/5

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.

Customizable HRMS system supporting the full employee lifecycle, including succession planning tools

  • Pricing upon request
Visit Website
Rating: 4.8/5

Empxtrack is an HRMS (human resources management system) that has modules for recruitment, performance appraisals, 360-degree feedback, exit management, payroll (India-specific), and strategic HR functions. Their succession planning software—included in their strategic HR package—ensures business continuity by helping organizations identify key leadership roles and giving them the tools to build talent pipelines of potential successors to fill those roles in the long term.

You can get a sense of their detailed process in the screenshot above. Their system helps management teams identify their high potential employees (which they call HIPOs), and evaluate them thoroughly. Performance evaluations for succession planning are completed through a combination of surveys to get feedback from senior staff, and ratings on a 9-point or 12-point performance potential matrix, as shown above. You can also assign a mentor to help coach each future leader into their long-term position.

Empxtrack integrates with many HR tools through their API, but specific software providers are not listed on their website. One nice feature is that they offer online customer support 24x7.

Pricing details for the strategic HR solutions package are available upon request. However, other modules within their system, such as their Employee Portal and HRIS, Performance Appraisals, 360-Degree Feedback, Payroll (India-specific), Leave Management, Attendance, and Exit Management can be used for free with some limitations on users and reports.

Need Expert Help Selecting The Right Human Resources (HR) Software?

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The 10 Best Succession Planning Tools Summary

Tools Price
Qooper Pricing upon request
MentorcliQ Pricing upon request
Paycor From $5/employee/month + $99/month base fee
Lattice From $11/user/month
PerformYard From $5-$10/user/month
Cornerstone OnDemand Pricing upon request
Ingentis org.manager Pricing upon request
SAP SuccessFactors Pricing upon request
PeopleFluent Pricing upon request
Empxtrack Pricing upon request
Preview Image - <h2 class="c-block__title b-summary-table__title c-listicle__title h3" > Compare Software Specs Side by Side</h2>

Compare Software Specs Side by Side

Use our comparison chart to review and evaluate software specs side-by-side.

Compare Software

Other Succession Planning Software Options

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

  1. UKG Pro Succession

    HCM platform with strong predictive analytics and employee retention tools

  2. Eightfold AI

    Sophisticated talent intelligence platform with powerful AI-driven features

  3. Bullseye Engagement

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

  4. ChartHop

    Dynamic visual charting tool with customizable employee engagement features

  5. TalentGuard

    Comprehensive talent management system that supports detailed talent pool comparisons

  6. Plum

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

  7. Motivosity

    Forward-thinking leader development tool that facilitates personalized succession plans and key player evaluations

  8. Arcoro

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

  9. Pingboard

    Transparency and culture building tool that supports dynamic org charts capturing current and future reorg ideas - including a free succession planning downloadable template.

  10. eloomi

    Combined performance management + learning and development system that facilitates coaching conversations to help employees achieve long-term career goals like succession advancement.

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? 

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

Why Should You Use Succession Planning Software?

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.

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. 

If you enjoyed this article, consider signing up for our People Managing People newsletter to stay informed of the latest trends in the HR leadership space.

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By Kim Behnke

Kim Behnke is an HR Tool Expert & Writer for People Managing People. She draws on her 9 years of human resources experience and her keen eye for systematic processes to support her analyses of the top HR tools on the market. She is passionate about maximizing efficiencies and streamlining workflows to ensure internal systems run smoothly. Kim's HR experience includes recruitment, onboarding, performance management, training and development, policy development and enforcement, and HR analytics. She also has degrees in psychology, writing, publishing, and technical communication, and recently completed a Certified Digital HR Specialist program through the Academy to Innovate HR. When away from her desk, she can usually be found outside tending to her ever-expanding garden.