Future-proofing internal audit: Successful succession planning

It’s never easy when key internal audit talent leaves, but good succession planning can certainly reduce the disruption by ensuring the organisation is prepared for the future. Yet implementing an effective succession planning process can be a challenge for many businesses. According to Roffey Park’s 2017 Management Agenda report, just over one-third of managers see the loss of key staff as a threat to their business, yet 52% view their approach to succession planning as weak.

What is succession planning?

Succession planning can help organisations meet future people needs by identifying and developing the talent that could fill business-critical roles, such as senior managers or leaders, when necessary. A succession plan can focus on developing long-term successors as well as short-term replacements. A strong succession plan will ensure a talent pipeline of the right people, who are available for the right roles at the right time.

In his book, Effective Succession Planning, author William J Rothwell defines succession planning as “any effort designed to ensure the continued effective performance of an organisation, division, department, or work group by making provision for the development, replacement and strategic application of key people over time”.

All organisations – both large and small – need a solid succession plan in place to ensure minimal disruption when key employees leave, although each plan will differ depending on the size of the business. For instance, smaller internal audit teams may focus on external successors as a replacement CAE, as it is unlikely that a senior internal audit manager will come from within the business. However, in larger internal audit teams, it is more likely there will be sufficient staff churn to allow for a succession planning framework that identifies and trains for promotion within the team.

Why is succession planning important?

Succession planning is an effective…