Identify Critical Success Factors

"Critical Success Factors are the areas of your business or project that are absolutely essential to its success. By identifying and communicating these CSFs, you can help ensure your business or project is well-focused and avoid wasting effort and resources on less important areas. By making CSFs explicit, and communicating them with everyone involved, you can help keep the business and project on track towards common aims and goals...

"Identifying your CSFs is a very iterative process. Your mission, strategic goals and CSFs are intrinsically linked and each will be refined as you develop them. Here are the summary steps that, used iteratively, will help you identify the CSFs for your business or project:

Step One: Establish your business's or project's mission and strategic goals...

Step Two: For each strategic goal, ask yourself "what area of business or project activity is essential to achieve this goal?" The answers to the question are your candidate CSFs.

Step Three: Evaluate the list of candidate CSFs to find the absolute essential elements for achieving success - these are your Criticial Success Factors. As you identify and evaluate candidate CSFs, you may uncover some new strategic objectives or more detailed objectives. So you may need to define your mission, objectives and CSFs iteratively.

Step Four: Identify how you will monitor and measure each of the CSFs.

Step Five: Communicate your CSFs along with the other important elements of your business or project's strategy.

Step Six: Keep monitoring and reevaluating your CSFs to ensure you keep moving towards your aims. Indeed, whilst CSFs are sometimes less tangible than measurable goals, it is useful to identify as specifically as possible how you can measure or monitor each one...

"Tip: How Many CSFs?
To make sure you consider all types of possible CSFs, you can use Rockart's CSF types as a checklist.

Industry - these factors result from specific industry characteristics. These are the things that the organization must do to remain competitive.

Environmental - these factors result from macro-environmental influences on an organization. Things like the business climate, the economy, competitors, and technological advancements are included in this category.

Strategic - these factors result from the specific competitive strategy chosen by the organization. The way in which the company chooses to position themselves, market themselves, whether they are high volume low cost or low volume high cost producers, etc.

Temporal - these factors result from the organization's internal forces. Specific barriers, challenges, directions, and influences will determine these CSFs."

Read more in this article from MindTools.com, from which the foregoing was quoted