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Initiating the process involves identifying the roles for which replacement candidates are needed. Typically, succession management is conducted for the most senior, and thus strategically impactful, roles in the organization. This requires brief data collection backed by top leadership discussions with employees being considered as candidates.
The key to selecting the roles most important for replacement planning is an understanding of the drivers of business success and new initiatives or strategic directions that the organization plans on pursuing (as they might have an impact on requirements for a role). For example, future expansion into new markets may call for a heightened need for global marketing skills that the incumbent functional executive lacks and thus are needed in future candidates. Other indications of role requirements would include a move of corporate or field offices requiring leadership relocations, as well as acquisitions or mergers that substantially impact the scope of given roles, etc.