Master the Art of Developing a Succession Plan: A Proven 8-Step Framework for Malaysian & Singaporean Organisations

Written by Sheu Quen

12 minute read

Succession Planning

Creating a succession plan is a crucial strategy for ensuring an organisation’s sustained success. This process involves a meticulous sequence of steps that need to be carefully executed. While the principles of succession planning remain consistent across the globe, it’s essential to consider the unique landscapes of different countries. In this blog post, we will delve into the 8 essential steps of developing an effective succession plan, while highlighting how these steps can be adapted to the distinctive environments of Malaysia and Singapore. 


Are you prepared for the future of your organisation? With an ageing workforce and talent shortages, succession planning matters more than ever. Leverage succession planning software to identify high-potential employees, align succession plans with goals, and reduce leadership transition costs. Elevate your organisation with an 8-step succession plan framework. Uncover its transformative impact on leadership transitions, employee commitment, revenue growth, and long-term success. 

A study conducted among Malaysian organisations reveals that a substantial 87% do not have formal succession plans in place, leaving them vulnerable to leadership gaps and business disruption.

What is Succession Planning?

A succession plan involves identifying crucial roles, future staffing requirements, knowledge preservation, and potential successors within the organisation, leading to tailored action plans. By adopting a comprehensive approach that considers present and future company objectives, a succession plan ensures optimal personnel alignment with key positions. 

Over time, a succession plan enhances an organisation’s capabilities by: 

  • Pinpointing vital roles and potential gaps 
  • Identifying essential competencies for continuity if key leaders resign or leave  
  • Documenting critical information to facilitate knowledge transfer
  • Prioritising employee development to meet forthcoming business demands 

How to Develop a Succession Plan?

Effective Succession Plan

Every organisation has its own people requirements and business goals. This means that each organisation will have its own way of developing a succession plan. However, there are basic steps that all succession plans are built upon. If you are planning for your organisation, you can start with these steps and shape a plan that aligns with your organisation’s goals.  Every organisation has its own people requirements and business goals. This means that each organisation will have its own way of developing a succession plan. However, there are basic steps that all succession plans are built upon. If you are planning for your organisation, you can start with these steps and shape a plan that aligns with your organisation’s goals.  

Research from a Singapore-based business institute highlights that 60% of organisations in the country face challenges in ensuring smooth leadership continuity, underlining the need for effective succession planning.

Step 1: Define objectives of your succession plan

Succession plans need to have a clear objective or goal. This ensures that the organisation’s resources are not wasted in formulating and implementing the succession plan. The objectives you establish should also align with your organisation’s mission and long-term vision, such as future leadership plans, internal talent development, diversity, and a pipeline of leaders who can drive innovation and adapt to evolving industry trends. 

Some common objectives of a succession plan can be: 

  • A succession plan can be made specifically for finding successors for C-suite positions such as CEO, CFO, and Heads of different departments. 
  • A succession plan can be created to find the right future fit for middle-level leadership and managerial positions. 
  • A succession plan can be made for future talent needs based on the company’s growth and expansion plans or to accommodate changing market scenarios. 
  • A succession plan can be created especially to find replacements for retiring board members or to fill in new positions. 

Step 2: Assess your current leadership situation

A key objective of implementing a succession plan is to proactively pinpoint potential successors for pivotal roles within the organisation. Once you’ve established the plan’s objectives and compiled a list of critical positions, the subsequent step revolves around evaluating the existing internal talent pool. 

During the evaluation process: 

  • Determine if your organisation possesses the requisite individuals to step into crucial positions in the event of vacancies. 
  • Consider the strengths and weaknesses of your leaders, including their abilities to inspire, communicate, problem-solve, and adapt.
  • Assess whether they are equipped to assume their roles or if they require further training or upskilling to ensure they are fully capable.
  • Measure how your current leaders’ objectives align with the broader business goals, including their aspirations and how they can contribute to the vision.
  • Identify the key stakeholders who interact with your leadership team and assess how well your leaders manage these relationships. 

Organisations that utilise succession planning software are 2.5 times more likely to identify and nurture high-potential employees, ensuring a strong pipeline of future leaders.


succession planning

The 9-Box Grid is a popular tool in succession planning. It is often used to assess leaders based on performance and potential. It categorizes leaders into different quadrants, such as high performers with high potential (potential successors), solid performers, and those needing development. Utilise this grid to represent leadership assessments visually and to identify potential successors. 

A prime example of effective succession planning can be found in Tech Innovators Inc., a prominent technology company headquartered in Singapore. They utilise the “9-Box Grid” tool as a cornerstone of their approach. Through this tool, they identify high-potential employees, meticulously evaluating their performance and potential. This strategy ensures a seamless transition of leadership roles while upholding the uninterrupted flow of innovation. 

At the same time, it is important to consider not only technical proficiencies but also the leadership qualities, emotional intelligence, and alignment with the organisational culture of your current leaders. 

Step 3: Identify the potential successors

Identifying potential successors involves a systematic approach to talent assessment and evaluation. This step encompasses a thorough analysis of skills, competencies, and leadership potential across various organisational levels. Consider these strategies to pinpoint individuals ready to assume critical roles: 

  • Talent mapping – Developing a comprehensive inventory of high-potential employees involves considering their current roles, skill sets, and historical performance. By compiling a detailed database of potential successors, you establish a foundation for effective succession planning. 
  • Performance review – Reviewing historical performance evaluations help to identify consistent high performers who exhibit promising leadership potential. Look for individuals who consistently exceed expectations, drive initiatives, and demonstrate exceptional teamwork.
  • Succession readiness – Assessing the readiness of potential successors through factors such as adaptability, learning agility, communication skills, and problem-solving abilities. Evaluating these attributes provides insight into their preparedness for leadership roles. 

An example highlighting effective succession readiness comes from a multinational banking group in Singapore. Their approach involves evaluating high-potential employees for leadership roles and providing targeted training in financial regulations, risk management, and customer relations. This ensures that potential successors are equipped to excel in key positions within the highly competitive banking industry. 

Succession Plan
Recognizing prospective successors requires a systematic approach to talent assessment and evaluation.

The average return on investment (ROI) for succession planning software is 250%.

A third study by Gartner

Step 4: Formulate a development plan for your successors

Creating a tailored development plan for potential successors is critical in their journey towards leadership roles. This plan outlines a structured path for enhancing skills and fostering leadership growth. Here’s a detailed breakdown of the key elements: 

  • Skill enhancement – Identify the specific skills and competencies essential for effective organisational leadership. This could range from strategic thinking and decision-making to communication and conflict resolution.  
  • Mentorship opportunities – Facilitate mentorship pairings between potential successors and experienced mentors. Regular interactions with mentors provide potential successors with perspectives on navigating challenges, making decisions, and understanding the intricacies of leadership.
  • Cross-functional exposure – Enhance the developmental journey of potential successors by providing opportunities for cross-functional exposure. Assign them to diverse projects and roles across various departments, allowing them to gain a holistic understanding of the organisation’s operations.  

Step 5: Communicate your succession plan to stakeholders

Effective communication is pivotal for the successful implementation of your succession plan. Transparently sharing the plan’s details and benefits fosters support and engagement among stakeholders. Here’s how to strategically communicate your plan: 

  • Transparency – Explain the rationale behind the succession plan and its objectives with clarity. Highlight its significance in maintaining organisational stability, promoting growth, and fostering leadership continuity. Sharing these foundations establishes a clear context for stakeholders. 
  • Open dialogue – Promote open discussions involving current leaders, potential successors, and HR teams. Encourage stakeholders to voice their questions, concerns, and expectations. Create an environment where individuals feel comfortable seeking clarification and sharing insights. 
  • Managing expectations – Set realistic expectations regarding the timeline, responsibilities, and outcomes associated with the succession plan. Clearly outline the roles and responsibilities expected of potential successors and how these align with the organization’s goals.

A survey among HR professionals indicates that 86% believe that succession planning software plays a crucial role in enhancing leadership development programs.

Step 6: Align with top management

The active engagement of top management is pivotal in both formulating and executing a successful succession plan. When senior leaders endorse the plan, it cascades down the organisational hierarchy, garnering commitment and participation from all employees. 

Gaining top management’s alignment not only guarantees essential resources but also cultivates a culture that champions and prioritises leadership development, ensuring the plan’s effectiveness and long-term impact. Here are the key actions to consider: 

  • Strategic alignment – Present the succession plan as a strategic initiative that aligns with the organisation’s long-term goals and growth strategy. Articulate how the plan contributes to these broader objectives, emphasising its role in sustaining the company’s success, continuity, and adaptability in an evolving business landscape.
  • Resource allocation – Secure top management’s commitment to allocate resources, training programs, and mentorship opportunities specifically for the succession plan. Investing in leadership development cultivates a robust talent pipeline capable of steering the organisation toward its future vision.
  • Championing leadership development – Top management should serve as champions of leadership development within the organisation. Their active involvement sends a powerful message that leadership growth is encouraged and endorsed at the highest levels.  

Step 7: Regularly review and update your succession plan

To maintain the effectiveness of your succession plan, engage in periodic reviews and revisions. Evaluate the viability of planned changes and their readiness for implementation when required.  

Additionally, revisit the plan when selected successors depart or new talent joins. If a chosen successor leaves, reassess shortlisted candidates and make a new selection. When a new employee joins, determine their potential fit for critical positions and incorporate them as potential successors. Here are some practices to consider: 

  • Scheduled assessments – Implement a system of scheduled assessments to consistently evaluate the progress of potential successors and the efficacy of the development initiatives in place. Setting regular intervals for assessment establishes a mechanism for tracking growth, identifying areas of improvement, and making informed decisions about succession readiness. 
  • Emerging leaders – Continuously scan the organisational landscape to identify emerging leaders who display exceptional potential. Align this with the succession plan, providing them with targeted development opportunities that pave the way for their future growth. This approach ensures that the plan remains adaptable to the evolving talent landscape. 
  • Skill evolution – As the business landscape evolves, so do the skills and competencies necessary for effective leadership. Adapt the succession plan to integrate emerging skills and competencies that align with the changing demands of the industry. This guarantees that your potential successors are equipped with the relevant capabilities needed for success. 

Step 8: Execute your succession plan

Once you have all the information you need, create an organisational chart detailing current role holders and potential successors for critical positions and any anticipated new roles and associated personnel requirements. This blueprint establishes the foundation of your succession plan, serving as a dynamic reference to track changes and revisions as the plan takes shape. 

To ensure a successful implementation, consider these strategic approaches: 

  • Cultural integration – Integrate the succession plan’s core principles into your organisational culture to foster an environment where every member, from entry-level employees to top executives, recognises the importance of nurturing future leaders. This integration transforms the succession plan from a strategy into a tangible commitment to ongoing growth. 
  • Training integration – Integrate targeted leadership development modules into your existing training and learning initiatives. This provides employees with the opportunity to enhance their leadership skills and perspectives while reinforcing the idea that leadership is a continuous journey and not limited to a specific group of individuals. 
  • Recognition and rewards – Implement a system of recognition and rewards that acknowledges the efforts of leaders who actively contribute to mentoring, nurturing talent, and advancing the succession plan’s objectives. This establishes a culture where leadership development is valued and encouraged. 

Businesses that adopt succession planning software can significantly reduce the time it takes to fill leadership positions by 40%, ensuring a seamless transition and minimising disruptions.

These real-world examples underline how effective succession planning, through software and strategic alignment, can truly fortify organisations for the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. 

In Malaysia

AirAsia, a company that has embraced succession planning software to identify and nurture high-potential employees. Their robust succession plan covers key positions, ensuring constant preparedness for the future. 

Meanwhile, in Singapore

DBS Bank, a prominent Singaporean company, employs succession planning software to ensure its strategic goals align seamlessly with succession plans. This forward-looking approach drives them toward their envisioned future. 

A striking instance from Singapore’s industrial sphere is LM Industries, a manufacturing firm. They recognised the value of succession planning after an unexpected CEO departure. Thanks to a well-prepared successor, they smoothly navigated the transition, sidestepping potential disruptions. 

Success Story – How This Leading Property Developer Fast-Tracked Their Leadership Succession Planning 3x Faster with Accendo


Succession plans are dynamic and need consistent monitoring and assessment. At Accendo, we understand how critical succession planning is for the success of your employees and the organisation. That is why we have digitised and simplified the process. 

Key Takeaway

The 8-step process to develop a succession plan is your key to ensuring a seamless transition, safeguarding the stability of your business, and nurturing its ongoing prosperity. With every stage, you are not just strategising for tomorrow – you are shaping your legacy. 

Now it is time to take the first step towards a transformative future. Experience the power of our cutting-edge succession planning software with a FREE trial. Let us guide you through this journey of growth, resilience, and achievement. Seize the opportunity to empower your business today! 

Ready to take the first step towards seamless succession planning? Sign up for a FREE trial with Accendo and experience firsthand how succession planning can put you at the forefront of building a strong leadership pipeline. Streamline your process, enhance leadership transitions, and ensure your business continuity.

Helpful Answers Related to Succession Planning

Why is succession planning important?

Succession planning is crucial because it ensures the continuity of an organisation’s operations by identifying and developing potential leaders to take on key roles in the future. It mitigates risks associated with sudden vacancies, promotes employee growth, and helps maintain organisational stability. 

What is a succession planning framework?

A succession planning framework is a structured approach that outlines the steps and processes involved in identifying, nurturing, and preparing individuals to fill critical roles within an organisation when current incumbents transition out. It includes strategies, methods, and timelines for seamless leadership transitions. 

What should a succession plan include?

A succession plan should include a clear identification of key positions, assessment criteria for potential successors, development plans tailored to individual needs, strategies for knowledge transfer, communication protocols, and a process for ongoing monitoring and adjustment. 

What are the 4 stages of succession planning?

The succession planning process involves four stages: identification (spotting key roles and successors), development (customised skill enhancement), transition (smooth leadership handover), and monitoring (continuous plan refinement). 

What is the succession planning process in HRM?

In HRM, succession planning encompasses identifying crucial roles and skills, evaluating current employees, crafting development plans, executing plans with training, and maintaining relevance through constant evaluation. 

How do you prepare for succession planning?

Effective preparation involves identifying key roles, assessing potential successors, creating tailored development programs, establishing clear communication, and implementing a structured monitoring process for plan adaptation. 

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