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Defining formal transition plans for at-risk key roles and their successors improves organizational performance by reducing the impact of sudden departures.

Although pending retirements in key roles can create workforce risks and potentially impact business continuity, many organizations have not tackled succession planning, according to studies from global IT research and advisory firm Info-Tech Research Group. To guide organizations in assessing key role incumbent risk factors and to identify potential successors and their readiness, the firm has published its new industry blueprint titled Build an IT Succession Plan.

According to Info-Tech's research, most organizations are unprepared for the loss of employees who hold key roles, with the majority of organizations having no formal process for facilitating knowledge transfer between individuals. The departure of employees in key positions can negatively affect an organization as valuable knowledge, core business relationships, and profits are lost with their exit. Planning and executing key role transitions can take years. The firm recommends CIOs prepare now to mitigate the risk of loss later.

The blueprint's studies further indicate that when workers leave and don't effectively transfer their knowledge, the organization can start to face the duplication of efforts to solve problems and find solutions. Losing knowledge can make an organization vulnerable as it can impede the ability to identify, understand, and mitigate risks and stifle growth by lost client relationships. Innovation within an organization is also negatively affected by reduced capacity since tenured employees can determine the status quo faster to make way for novel thinking.

Info-Tech advises organizations to plan for the transfer of critical knowledge held by key role incumbents to build an effective IT succession plan. It is also important to explore alternative work arrangements to ensure sufficient time to prepare successors. The following approach is outlined in the blueprint as a holistic solution for building a future-proofed IT team:

1.  Talent Review – Conduct a talent review to identify key roles.

  • Identify Critical Roles
  • Assess Talent

2.  Succession Planning – Succession planning helps to assess which key roles are most at risk.

  • Identify Successors
  • Develop Successors
  • Select Successors

3.  Knowledge Transfer – Utilize methods that make it easy to apply the knowledge in day-to-day practice.

  • Identify Critical Knowledge
  • Select Transfer Methods
  • Document Role Transition Plans

It is best that organizations prepare now to mitigate the risk of potential loss later.


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