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5 Powerful Succession Planning Tools You Need Right Now

Learning and Development | 8 Min Read

5 Powerful Succession Planning Tools You Need Right Now


The ongoing pandemic has disrupted revenue streams, and corporations are scrambling to transition to the new ‘normal,’ making crucial decisions to tide over the crisis. No risk managers or business gurus had envisaged such an abrupt and ongoing disruption. Industry stakeholders, across the board, have no experience in dealing with a disorder of this magnitude. However, it doesn’t justify the profound sense of unease and lack of clarity on the road ahead among the employees, shareholders and customers, all of whom are vying for support to realign and re-strengthen their organizations.

What must a company do or could have done to survive this crisis? Succession planning is the answer. Every company must consider it now or would have to confront the issue in the future. Businesses are facing increasing vulnerability with each passing day. Survival instincts are kicking-in as companies are facing existential crises in the absence of viable leaders. We don’t profess that leaders can predict crises and avert them. However, choosing the right successor does make all the difference. It is the key to business continuity. 

Businesses are expected to remain relevant by adapting, innovating and accelerating toward the digital ecosystem. They need to prepare and prioritize their vision, identify vulnerabilities, shortlist pipeline potentials and envisage a path forward. These can’t be undertaken without a leader, a plan or the right tools.

Tools? Yes, you read it right. 

Succession planning tools help determine who amongst a set of employees have the potential knowledge and skill sets to fill in many critical roles. Succession planning tools give you the ability to navigate the road ahead by syncing your vision with a suitable leader. By providing individuals’ in-depth knowledge of essential, work-relevant personality traits and behavioral tendencies, the succession planning toolkit maps the right candidates to an organization’s requirements and derives fruitful results. 

It is well-established that the disruption has created much uncertainty in the business environment, likely to sustain for a few years. Therefore, this underlines the need to re-evaluate dormant succession plans and ensure a talented and ready pipeline of leaders to withstand current and future challenges. Companies can undertake them by identifying the right succession planning tools and techniques.


Five Powerful Succession Planning Tools

A succession planning toolkit helps identify an organization’s potential succession gaps and enables planning the future staffing needs- as understanding, discovering and measuring values, attainment, and persistence enable making informed decisions.

Hence, to best identify the right tools for your organization: 

  • Identify the tools’ most-needed core elements
  • Understand the fundamental tasks those tools need to perform 
  • Match the tools to your process and the role’s requirements

These three ways bring much clarity to identifying the right succession planning toolkit, which will bring you closer to ascertaining your organization’s potential succession gaps and enabling planning of future staffing needs.

To make life simpler, here are the succession planning assessment tools you must leverage while instituting a succession planning model:


Five Powerful Succession Planning Tools


These succession planning tools and techniques are the building blocks of any assessment. 

Here is a detailed account of accurate and informative succession planning software features of various succession planning tools to help you manage your future needs:

Personality Tools

In succession planning, it is vital to gain a more comprehensive understanding of personality, of which the management might not be aware. Therefore, companies assess personality traits that are the determining characteristics exhibited consistently despite changing circumstances. 

Personality assessment is commonly undertaken at the mid and senior levels. 

This top succession planning software tool is validated and optimized to test beyond the traditional ‘Big Five’ framework of personality. It provides a comprehensive picture of the culture and role-fitment while evaluating the likelihood of handling integral work-related activities. It also proffers objective insights into how other people might react to the same situation. Subsequently, this succession planning management software reveals hidden aspects of the candidates’ personality, such as whether they possess the right personality traits related to performance and compatibility in given roles or positions. Such in-depth detail increases the possibility of making the right decisions in applied settings. 

Many state-of-the-art personality tools also measure motivation as it is synonymous with related personality traits such as commitment, accomplishment and enthusiasm.

Did you know? 

Mercer | Mettl’s ‘Mettl Personality Map (MPM)’ measures personality via a unique and innovative 28 facet and a 4-factor structure of personality beyond its traditional framework.

Behavioral Assessment

A behavioral assessment tool requires candidates to demonstrate chosen and critical behavioral competencies in one or multiple exercises that mirror actual workplace situations. It identifies and analyzes behaviors required of employees when they take the lead, professionally and socially. 

A behavioral tool brings clarity to how people behave at work. Hence, they combine innovation and scientific rigor to assess the role fitment. Different types of behavioral assessments can be used independently or in combination to gain an individual’s holistic overview. It includes caselets, situational judgment tests and inbox exercises to gauge an employee’s mindset and potential. Hence, implementing behavioral assessments as employee succession planning software is ideal.

Cognitive Assessment

Cognitive ability is the brain’s ability to undertake core tasks such as thinking, learning, memorizing, paying attention, visualizing, recognizing, organizing and interpreting the surroundings (perception). 

In succession planning, cognitive tests assess critical thinking and reasoning logic related to on-the-job performance. Through a series of complex questions, the test measures two intelligent types- crystallized intelligence and fluid intelligence.


crystallized intelligence and fluid intelligence


When succession planning for top management, cognitive tests help measure the aptitude required by leaders to achieve excellence, aligned with business goals. Various research studies have indicated that cognitive ability predicts job performance twice better than job interviews, thrice than work experience, and four times the education level!

Technical Assessment

For companies assessing technical roles, a technical competency framework handbook provides detailed insights into identifying stellar IT/ non-IT skills sets. Various professional tests provide comprehensive knowledge of on-job-relevant behavior and the technical expertise required to be successful.

360-Degree Feedback

Apart from utilizing the four tools mentioned above, it is advised to gather the stakeholders’ perspectives when succession planning. That is because they are the ones with whom the potential successor works and interacts regularly. Hence, seeking feedback from multiple stakeholders such as the employee’s superiors, peers, direct reports, and even clients enables them to understand their perception of the employee’s readiness to take on future roles.

Leveraging this information can help the employee develop an improved perspective on performance, skill levels and behavior as perceived by others. Using a multi-rater feedback mechanism, such as Mercer | Mettl’s 360-Degree Feedback Survey, allows one to understand whether the concerned employee has demonstrated leadership qualities. Using this tool as an additional metric to determine the right fit ensures that multiple perspectives are factored in when making the final decision. 

Even the most successful individuals have flaws that are often blind-sided, and various succession planning examples state the same. Hence, it is always suggested that applying a combination of personality, behavior, and cognitive tools provide an in-depth measurement of crucial, work-relevant personality traits and behavioral tendencies for individuals positioned in specific high-priority roles. Now, these time-tested succession planning tools can either be administered independently or in a more organized manner through assessment/development centers (ADC).


Assessment & Development Centers

Assessment and development centers
 (ADCs) are scalable, cost-efficient and tailor-made tools that help identify successors across various jobs and levels. ADCs bring together roleplays, situational judgment tests, group discussions, presentations, interviews, simulations, psychometric and aptitude tests, and similar activities to help make crucial people decisions. These multiple assessments provide a detailed evaluation of candidates to determine their most appropriate roles. 

The ADC toolkit can be administered either virtually or in a blended format.

Virtual Assessment & Development Centers

Virtual assessment development centers involve employing multiple online tools to evaluate the extent to which chosen participants display selected competencies. It is a detailed evaluation of individuals’ role fitment by assessing each person’s various aspects to be successful in a critical role. With zero logistical hassles, no bias and simple infrastructure requirements of internet connectivity and computers, decision-makers gain a holistic understanding of the candidates through multiple lenses.

Virtual ADC toolkit mostly consists of:


Virtual ADC toolkit

Blended Assessment & Development Centers

Blended assessment & development centers are a combination of onsite and online assessments. The assessors gain insightful and data-backed outcomes by expanding the means and methods of measuring a potential candidate. This interwoven scenario improves the variety of assessments available and also provides different perspectives on each outcome. Few competencies are mapped using online tools with life-like simulations. The rest are simultaneously assessed based on physical activities.  

In addition to the online succession planning software tools mentioned above, the blended ACDC toolkit consists of: 

  • Group Discussion and Group Activities are conducted among a select few candidates tasked to work together with all the group members to solve a given problem. Through such group activities, candidates are assessed on social skills, leadership propensity, influence, inclusivity and other values. It is undertaken with assessors as observers who evaluate the candidates on the concerning competencies. Candidates are assessed on active participation, along with their quality of ideas and perspectives. 
  • Case Study Presentation: A hypothetical business-related case study is presented to the participants. This activity takes them out of their regular day-to-day roles. It offers them a glimpse of the problems while allowing them to experience critical interdependencies, execute best practices and explore alternatives to devise an all-embracing succession planning system.
  • One-To-One Roleplay: This activity enables examining how the participant behaves with others in a given situation. This exercise allows the assessors to observe how the participant responds when dealing with challenging interpersonal conditions. The individual’s ability to perform well in this activity is likely to correlate with the role’s required competencies and behavior directly. This is an ideal HR succession planning software feature. 
  • Competency-Based Interviews: The premise of such interviews is that past behavior is the best predictor of future performance. Hence, a competency-based interview uncovers the participants’ past performance through questions. It highlights their ability to perform the job.

Each of these succession planning solutions can be administered online and/or in-person, factoring in a myriad of demands of the present-day business environment. These tools are customizable for all levels of employees throughout their employee lifecycle, from frontline employees to managers and other senior positions. 

Pre-build tests are a more homogeneous offering for companies keen on a more standardized process. It is based on a standardized framework used across industries and/or seniority levels.


Pre-Built Tests:

A ready-made set of assessments is mapped to pre-defined competencies.
It is not specific to any organization but caters to a standard succession planning framework typically used across industries and/or seniority levels. Ranging from elementary tests to tests that are highly specific to job roles, pre-build tests enable you to select the best candidates relevant to a particular role/function.

Handpicking the right candidates for succession is no longer a task. Easy-to-read, advanced reporting insights, delivered at scale, offer companies a comprehensive understanding of what to expect. Concurrently, a detailed combination of individual competency-wise assessment reports with optional individual development plans can also be shared with the participants. It provides them with an analysis of their strengths, areas for development and readiness for future roles (for non-selected participants, also provides recommendations on their readiness). The highly sophisticated reports also include the organization’s benchmarked strengths.  

But what about selecting the best succession planning software? It is not as easy as walking into a supermarket and selecting at a whim. For every organization, their succession planning system requirements will be unique and expansive. Therefore, the approach will have to be more focussed with careful consideration to avail fruitful results.


Factors Affecting the Succession Planning System

Here are the three most critical requirements or decision- making factors on which your choice of succession planning tools bank:


One of the factors that affect the shortlisting of a succession planning toolkit is the role or title for which you’re planning. This is because the profile specifies how complex or simple the tools need to be while deciding. For example, a senior leadership role will require a more comprehensive succession planning system than a junior role. After all, a higher role demands a more thorough assessment of the candidates’ leadership qualities, knowledge, future-thinking approach and actions through the tool.


Just like every fingerprint is unique, the succession planning requirements of every industry is distinct. For instance, it is not necessary that the requirements of a software firm will be similar to that of a retail firm. While one will need to evaluate technical performance on priority, the other will give preference to other skill-sets. Therefore, you cannot follow a one-tool-fits-all approach here. Hence, businesses considering employing succession planning tools should comprehend their industries’ goals in sync with their business requirements and dynamic workforce before taking a call.


It is well-known that succession planning is a time-consuming process. It takes time to design and has to be implemented in the future. Similarly, you need to factor in time to track and evaluate the effectiveness of your tools. Hence, time is a critical factor that helps decide the kind of succession planning tools one can wield in a succession planning model. For instance, the more time you have at hand, the greater the advantage you have of expanding the tool kit viz-a-viz someone who needs to fill a role urgently. Suppose you are an organization restricted by time. In that case, you can employ virtual assessment and development centers that work in a virtual setting and bring together various exercises and multiple assessments. They are quick to administer and easy to manage within a given time-frame while providing a detailed evaluation of candidates.


Like any organizational initiative, systematic succession planning too cannot be initiated without having a budgetary consideration. After all, scouting, recognizing, developing and evaluating talent costs financial resources. Hence, fiscal consideration allows organizations to keep a focussed approach toward the tools you avail to implement a succession planning system. That way, depending on your budgetary allocation, you can employ one or more tools to achieve your goals. For example, if you are a business owner with a small budget, you can use a ready-made set of assessments to achieve the purpose of the succession planning system. Such tests are mapped to pre-defined competencies that are not specific to any organization but caters to a standard succession planning framework, typically used across industries and/or seniority levels.

Did you know?

Mercer | Mettl is the largest and fastest-growing assessment and skill measurement company in India. It offers sophisticated data-backed tools to help companies identify an ideal successor.



Can you imagine Amazon without a Jeff Bezos?  Maybe not.  

Hence, a strong focus on talent and the choice of leaders in an organization is arguably the most significant factor in succession planning.

Concurrently, “An ideal succession plan is one that is aligned with the business strategy of the company in all aspects of the planning from talent/skills identification to employee reviews. You'll always learn where to position your company when you are well informed of the current status and skills of employees, and in what direction you want to take it in the future."

Michael Hamelburger
CEO of Cost Reduction Consultant

And the best way to go about it is by employing succession planning assessment tools that give us a tremendous leverageable opportunity by spotting the next generation of leaders, understanding their capacity for growth and enabling them to be offered the experience and support needed to develop and succeed. The right set of succession planning tools will always be well-analyzed, free from complexity, and focus on the future with a competitive advantage. 

Without a doubt, we must place succession planning as a core mission in our corporate playbooks. 

So which tool are you planning to leverage to get started?



Before you move on, we’ve listed down the answers to some common questions on succession planning tools and template and succession planning tools definition:


How do you write a succession plan?

One must first determine the type of succession plan desired before framing an ideal succession plan. Afterward, one has to hire a good succession planning company that devises the right
succession planning strategy, foremost considering the company’s and stakeholders’ interests.


What should a succession plan include? 

Succession planning should include a variety of
personality, behavior and cognitive tools that provide an in-depth measurement of crucial, work-relevant personality traits and behavioral tendencies.


What is succession planning policy? 

A succession planning policy is a blueprint that prepares organizations against unforeseen situations such as
when key leaders or critical employees take up new opportunities, retire or pass away.   


What does succession planning software do?

A succession planning software
helps organizations identify potential successors, along with their proficiency and vulnerability that can later be nurtured to plan the future. 


Define the succession planning system? 

succession planning system meaning, it is a process of identifying the next generation of leaders who can ensure business continuity when key leaders take up new opportunities, retire or pass away. 

There are various succession planning system examples in the industry that elucidate the power of having robust and systematic succession planning.

Originally published July 24 2020, Updated August 19 2021

Written by

Shirisha has been helping countless brands gain traction with her content. Her deep understanding of the education sector and sound knowledge of technical skills have helped her structure the most creative solutions for key stakeholders. Shirisha has also ghosted pieces for several industry honcho’s successfully published both online and offline. When she's not keeping up with the world, you're sure to find her catching up on bollywood stories or gramming for fun.

About This Topic

Succession planning is a systematic process through which organizations build a leadership pipeline to preserve its future. The process involves identifying and developing potential successors for a seamless transition.

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