Difference Between Human Resource Planning & Succession Planning

Difference Between Human Resource Planning & Succession Planning
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Human Resource Planning (HR Planning), also known as manpower planning, is the process of estimating the present and future personnel requirements for a company’s operations in order to attain targets. It also details the how and when to acquire such personnel.

Succession Planning is the process of identifying critical positions in the organizational chart and preparing employees below or parallel to such critical positions in the hierarchy to take over when the incumbent leaves the critical position due to resignation or any reason.


The major difference between human resource planning and succession planning lies in the approach to each.

Human resource planning (HR Planning) concerns itself with the quality and quantity of the entire workforce whereas succession planning concerns itself with the competence of a person in a specific post.

HR Planning is a macro-level approach dealing with the workforce in general, aiming to ensure that the organization has the required number of personnel with the required skills at the required time. It is a straightforward cut-and-dried approach and does not concern itself with any specific employee on an individual basis. Succession Planning is a micro-level approach concerned with individual employees on an individual basis, for the eventuality of the incumbent leaving at a future time that is still uncertain and indefinite.


Another difference between human resource planning and succession planning is seen in the selection methodology used by each.

HR Planning bases itself on:

  1. The existing operations of the company, with the required workforce estimated through methods such as time study, case study, and others.
  2. Business plans and forecasts human resource demands by various forecasting techniques and statistical tool.

Identifying critical positions for the succession planning exercise is subjective.The criteria for selection of candidates to groom as successors depend on various factors such as competence, behavioral skills and attitudes, tenure with the company, political equations within the company, and other qualifiers. Such standards are usually subjective. The process of actually implementing succession planning is, however, scientific and includes assessment centers, empowerment, mentoring, and various training and development initiatives.

Time Frame

HR Planning usually takes places before a major recruitment effort such as seasonal hiring or following a major corporate restructuring or decision to right-size the organization. Companies without such disruptions usually review their HR plans annually in a bid to right-size the organization based on actual demand.

Succession Planning is a more continuous process aimed at enhancing the competence of the personnel selected to succeed incumbents. The process of identifying a new employee to groom as a successor starts when one of the personnel marked as a successor moves into an earmarked slot or leaves.


HR Planning aims at ensuring that the organization functions smoothly with the right number of personnel. A shortage of employees results in the inability to meet corporate goals, failure to exploit opportunities, poor customer satisfaction, and lower profits. The presence of excess personnel leads to the loss of productivity, process inefficiency, and unnecessary wage bills.

Succession planning aims to prevent disruption of organizational activities or collapse of systems and procedures by the absence of key personnel in key positions. It tries to mitigate the adverse affects of the resignation or loss of key employees.

Both HR Planning and Succession Planning are of critical importance to any organization, and organizations that neglect either of these activities invariably face severe human resource issues.

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