In general, a succession plan has three distinct steps.
First, the firm must pick a successor to the current leader of the company. This is a very difficult process because it is very hard to pick the right person. Many large companies like Hewlett-Packard have failed to pick good successors for their outgoing leaders.
Second, the firm should train the chose successor. This is a crucial part of the process. It is a good idea for a firm to gradually train the successor to do more and more of the leader's job. While this is going on, the successor should also be getting to know the people who will be important to him or her. The successor will be needing to have relationships with these people and should be getting to know them.
Finally, the outgoing leader must leave and finalize the succession. This is best accomplished if the outgoing leader makes a clean break with the company and makes it clear that he or she approves of the successor. This ensures that there will be no conflicting loyalties among people in the firm who may still be loyal to the old leader.
By doing these things, firms can implement their succession plans.