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Critical Success Factors

Critical Success Factors (CSFs) are the global factors or activities that really matter for success, the critical ones required to ensure the success of an organization. An organization has missions and goals associated to these missions. CSFs are the gears that ensure the entity reaches its goals.

Defining the CSFs helps the teams to pull in the same direction and focus on the success of the organization and nothing else. On a management perspective, CSFs are areas of activity that should receive constant and careful attention.

It is important to write CSFs which are visible and/or possibly – mostly indirectly – measurable in certain aspects such that it would be easier to focus and act on these factors. Be careful not to confuse CSFs with Key Performance Indicators which are less global and more directly measurable.

According to J. F. Rockart, the man who first coined the term CSF, in order to find them all, you may look for the CSFs in the following themes:
• 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.