IT Succession Management Plans Are MIA

By William Atkinson  |  Posted 06-20-2013

By William Atkinson

In June, TEKsystems released a report highlighting the fact that organizations are facing significant shortcomings related to IT succession management plans. The findings are based on a survey of more than 1,500 IT leaders and more than 2,000 IT professionals.

TEKsystems is a provider of IT staffing solutions, IT talent management expertise, and IT services. The report is part of the company's "IT Talent Management Survey" series.

The report notes that IT leaders and IT professionals believe succession management is an important component of organizational success. When properly implemented, a formal succession management plan ensures a company is supplied with a pipeline of high-potential employees who can quickly step into key roles, thus maintaining business continuity and helping ensure that projects do not stall or become derailed. In addition, such a succession management plan ensures that employees benefit from clear paths for advancement, leveraging their skills, goals and interests.

However, such successful plans are not the norm, according to the survey respondents. The TEKsystems report noted seven key findings:

1. Ninety percent of IT leaders and 65 percent of IT professionals believe succession management is important to the overall success of their organizations.

2. However, only 68 percent of IT leaders and only 40 percent of IT professionals believe their organizations' succession management plans are effective in achieving their desired results.

3. Forty-nine percent of IT leaders and 57 percent of IT professionals indicated that either no formal succession management plan exists or are unsure if one exists in their organization.

4. According to most respondents, succession planning drops precipitously with lower management and key line positions. Only 38 percent of IT leaders and 20 percent of IT professionals indicated that succession planning takes place in lower management positions in their organization. In addition, only 22 percent of IT leaders and 16 percent of IT professionals indicated that succession planning takes place for key line positions, such as security and engineering, in their organization.

5. Both groups report that a lack of communication negatively affects the succession planning programs in their organization. Eight-two percent of IT leaders and 79 percent of IT professionals indicated that the succession planning program is not discussed frequently enough.

6. Fifty-two percent of IT professionals do not believe that criteria for a high-potential employee are clearly defined by their organization.

7. Seventy-nine percent of IT leaders and 78 percent of IT professionals indicated that the lack of succession management measurement or evaluation negatively affects the succession management plans in their organization.

The report offered four recommendations:

1. Implement a plan.
Ensure that the succession management plan is for all key levels of the organization, not just senior level roles, and that high-potential employees are intimately involved in the process.

2. Clearly define the criteria for high-potential employees.
By establishing the qualities needed for success, organizations can better select strong leaders, and employees will know what skills and behaviors are needed.

3. Be transparent.
Communicate the plan to your internal employees, and promote the plan to your external recruits.

4. Review your succession plan.
A succession plan should be reviewed at least annually in order to ensure that you are taking new and strategic business needs into account, and that you are attracting and developing your employees with the skills that your organization needs in order to be successful.