What are critical
With every organization, process or product there
are some critical factors on which their success depends. The success
of a book is not whether there is an unwanted printing mark on a page
- it is whether the book lives up to the readers expectations and that
is more to do with the substance than with materials. The success of
electronic equipment is dependent on appearance, function and
reliability. The success of an automobile depends on appearance,
function, safety, reliability and maintainability. In most cases these
factors will be defined in the product specification and will be the
functions that the product is required to perform. With processes,
success may depend on throughput, resource consumption, traceability
and/or response. With the organization, success may depend on market
intelligence, retaining competent people, short product development
timescales, the quality of conformity or service standards - these
will be the organizations objectives
Why is it important to
understand critical success factors?
Critical success factors either drive or impede your
performance and constrain the manner in which a process operates.
Drivers will help you succeed, they will propel you towards your goal.
Barriers will get in the way and stop you achieving your goal. Some of
these are external to the organization and out of your control. Others
are internal to the organization and within your control. You can
change these should there be the motivation to do so. This is where we
enter the arena of the management of change. It is not only
technological change but changes in attitude, behaviour, belief etc
that may be needed depending on what the goal is and the environment
in which this goal is to be achieved.
How are critical success
CSFs can be determined simply by asking the question of the
organization or a particular business proposition, “What factors
affect our ability to get it right, or to realise our vision or to
fulfil our mission, or to achieve out objectives?” It rather
depends on the level at which you ask the question. The result
might be a mixed bag of things, some of which may be more relevant to
a process risk assessment. Two techniques have emerged that are more
methodical, one is a PEST analysis and the other is a SWOT analysis. A
PEST analysis measures a market whereas a SWOT analysis measures a
(Political, Economic, Social and Technological) analysis measures the
market relative to a particular organizational goal or business
proposition. It serves to identify what is going on in the external
environment that could affect the future direction of the organization
or the success of a business proposition. Strategies that do not take
these influences into account are invariably doomed to failure.
SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) analysis looks
at the organization itself or a business proposition or indeed a
competitor. The PEST affects the SWOT but not visa versa. Without a
clear understanding of an organization’s strengths, weaknesses,
opportunities and threats business plans may fail, goals will be
missed and new product or service development programmes will fail to
live up to their potential. The analysis of strengths and weaknesses
looks inwards on the organization, whereas the analysis of
opportunities and threats looks outwards and can therefore be derived
from the PEST.
What do I do once I have
identified the critical success factors?
Critical success factors shape
If your success depends on the
safety of your products, you need safety objectives.
If your success depends on securing
the integrity of information entrusted to you by your customers,
then you need security objectives.
If your success depends on the impact your operations have on the
- If your success depends on capital investment in
modern plant and machinery, you need financial objectives.