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Are you ready to implement Succession planning within SuccessFactors?

Succession planning is an important aspect of any company’s Talent Management strategy. It prepares for the inevitable changes in a company’s workforce, whether that is through new hires, separations, or transfers. SuccessFactors Succession Management allows a company to plan for all these factors.

SAP SuccessFactors Succession & Development can really help organizations develop the talent they need to achieve their business goals while providing visibility and planning capabilities to support future growth.

SuccessFactors Succession Org Chart – the heart of where much of succession planning takes place

Now that you’ve decided to formalize and digitize your succession planning process, what should you and your company do to prepare for implementation? Consider the following to help guide you in this endeavor.

How will you “succession plan”?

There are two main methods of succession planning in SuccessFactors: role-person (also known as “incumbent-based”) and position-based. When using role-person, you are mainly focused on replacement planning and successors are nominated to a role and person combination. This method tends to be easy to maintain but has a couple of caveats: the succession plans move with the incumbent, so if an incumbent changes their position, these successors might not apply as successors to the new position. Additionally, if the incumbent leaves the company, the successors are dropped, so this requires some additional work on the succession planners or admins.

Position-based, which is the best practice method, allows for successors to be nominated directly to positions. Pros to using this method are that it supports planning for vacant positions and To Be Hired positions may be added to the org chart to round out the succession planning process. Finally, position-based succession plans remain intact as incumbent changes occur.

SuccessFactors Performance-Potential Matrix Report (9-Box)


Many companies like to succession plan at a certain time or times during the year. A popular time to start planning is after annual performance reviews have been completed because you can take updated performance scores into consideration while planning, as well as fresh development goals if development planning is also a part of the process (this is recommended).

It is important to have an “order of operations” and to communicate the timing of each step to the impacted populations. For example, a recommended first step in succession planning is for employees to update their background/personal information (e.g. Willingness to Relocate, Courses/Certifications, Career Aspirations). A typical second step is for the succession planners to update their direct report’s Talent Flags for the new planning year. Once these first steps have been completed, the succession planners will have the tools they need to actively begin succession planning.

Talent Flags

There are various ways to assess talent. One of the most popular ways is by using Talent Flags. Talent Flags are quick data points that a succession planner may use to help quickly identify top talent. Popular talent indicators are Risk of Loss, Impact of Loss, Future Leader, Diversity Candidate, and Reason for Leaving.

Talent Flags on the Employee Profile

System Administration

It is important to ensure your company designates some Succession Planning Administrators before launching the succession planning process for several reasons:

  • Ensure security permissions for succession tools is correct, or make modifications as needed
  • Setup of Calibration template and settings for use in the planning new year
  • Run reports of historical succession information prior to the start of planning, such as for Talent Flag information, in which the system does not automatically backup previous flag designations and is not date-driven data.

It is also key to identify who will be the Succession Planners, and what will their roles be in terms of the SuccessFactors Succession tools. For example, will Managers participate and if so, how? Will they designate Talent Flags for their direct reports since they are closest to them? Will HR play a role, perhaps in conducting Succession Calibration or Talent Reviews?

Companion Tools

What other tools do SuccessFactors offer that can help make your succession planning process more robust? There are several.

The Career Development Planning module is a highly useful supplemental tool when it comes to succession planning. Development Goals for a future role can align to specific required competencies to assist in preparing an employee to be a successor for a position. The Career Worksheet competency gap graph is a visual representation of an employee’s readiness for future roles.

SuccessFactors Career Worksheet

Additionally, the Role Readiness Assessment is a measuring tool that assists in determining an employee’s readiness for a future role in his or her career. In a Role Readiness Assessment, ratings for competencies that are mapped to the role are provided by the manager. The outcome is displayed as a readiness percentage in the Job Roles I’m Considering boxes for each future role. The corresponding detailed competency information can be key in helping decide an employee’s readiness to succeed in a position.

The Career Goals portlet on the Employee Profile can be an excellent source of information regarding which positions an employee aspires to grow into. This information helps succession planners learn what an employee’s areas of interest are and determine the fit and willingness to succeed in a position. It is often the spark for deeper conversations between managers and their employees regarding future career paths and development goals may be created to help ready employees for these future career plans.

SuccessFactors Employee Profile – Career Goals portlet


SuccessFactors has an excellent set of succession planning tools such as the Succession Org Chart and Talent Flags, as well as companion tools such as the Career Worksheet and Career Goals portlet, to choose from to fit the needs of your company. When implementing Succession Management in SuccessFactors, is important to contemplate the points outlined above. Having this knowledge ahead of time as well as taking into consideration your overall Talent Management strategy will help to ensure a successful implementation and rollout.

Interested in learning more about Talent management or looking for a partner to implement these solutions? Be sure to reach out to us here.

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