Project management won’t be easy and the project managers forfeit the sight of the critical success factors of the project often.

These factors cause nearly 67% of the projects to miss the schedule or go over the budget.

Definition of Critical Success Factors

CSFs are the components within the project that are crucial to the project achieving its goal or aim.

The conditions of critical success factors need to be satisfied, for a factor to complete its deliverable. These components have to be present for the successful completion of a project’s objective.

Below are some potential elements that specify the success of the house construction projects:

  • Consumables and construction workers.
  • Staying within the schedule and under budget.
  • Creating a precise number of rooms.

Why does CSF (Critical Success Factor) matter?

The best efforts have to be made to deliver a product of high quality.

For example, project managers can analyze the ongoing competition and formulate a more convincing strategy to undertake a unique marketing campaign to boost traffic.

The critical success criteria benefit project managers in multiple ways.

  • To utilize resources and time efficiently.
  • To identify assignments and their ordering.
  • To recognize and manage threats.
  • To encourage honest communication with the members of the team.

When to define Critical Success Factors?

Critical success elements must be identified at the phase of planning along with the deliverables.

The exemplary approach would be to restrict the number of intents for each deliverable to five. Likewise, it is challenging to track multiple critical success criteria, and situations might become complex.

Critical Success Factors – History

The term CSF (Critical Success Factor) was initially used in an article for the foremost time which was posted in Harvard Business Review by Rockart and Bullen in the year 1981 with the heading “Chief Executives Define Their Own Data Needs”. Also, the earlier workpiece of different authors like Pareto, Von Clausewitz, Drucker, Daniels, and Aristotle contributed to the widespread reputation of the method.

It was developed first for IS (Information System) to aid in identifying significant data in project management. Throughout time, the Critical Success Factor developed into a tool of management, permitting a more accurate definition and determination of management preferences.

  1. Ronald Daniel, who is a worker of McKinsey and Company, has been credited with formulating the concept of success criteria in 1961. John F Rockart brought in improvements to the technique in 1981. In 1995, Michael Friesen and James A Johnson applied it across various industries.

Getting at a market element that isn’t served by anyone else could be a key to the sustained success of the company in the terms of development, expansion, and profitability.

Critical Success Factors – Types

Critical Success Factors are divided into 4 types:

  • Competitive CSFs:

What a rival can do and how will their failure or success impact the organization’s Critical Success Factors? It implicates more than just evaluating the actions carried out by the competitor. Perception of the customers of an organization towards its competitors is the primary factor that influences and impacts these Critical Success Factors.

Examples of Competitive CSFs

  • Being assessed as a “luxury” brand.
  • Imploring a certain customer demographic.
  • Temporal CSFs:

A company is not affected permanently by temporal factors. Rather, these Critical Success Criteria are temporary, which are restricted factors that unfavorably or favorably impact a certain business.

If required, removing these impediments will enable the continued expansion of corporate business.

Examples of Temporal CSFs

  • Transient and unexpected changes to how an organization does business.
  • Lowered staffing capacity because of a particular, transient issue.
  • Hiring experts to help in the liftoff of a new area or an office.
  • Environmental CSFs:

Even though a single organization has restricted direct control over the crucial success variables, it will not make them less important than environmental Critical Success Factors. For instance, tracking and labeling environmental components prior is an excellent strategy for the removal of needless threats and prospective crises in the end.

Examples of Environmental CSFs

  • Advancement in the economy.
  • Change in the policy affects the running of the business.
  • Industry guidelines.
  • Management Position CSFs:

Critical Success Factors for management positions are precise from the four primary Critical Success Factors categories since they involve a particular position or person rather than the whole business. Project managers need to develop critical success criteria to enhance their management and leadership abilities.

Illustrations of Critical Success Factors for Management positions

  • Instructing in the resolution of conflict.
  • Bringing together team-wide risk management techniques of the project.
  • Mastering the techniques to manage the workload.

Ways to create a fair Critical Success Criteria

Writing a good CSF involves five steps.

  • Research the organization’s values, mission, and strategy

Examine the company’s values, mission, and strategy. Concrete on priorities and difficulties.

Conduct a market analysis so that you will understand the aspects of the external market that influence the business when you are not sure or wish to acquire some background input. The next step will be to perform a SWOT estimation to assess the organization and also to decide how well it has been designed to meet the market challenges. This involves recognizing the company’s weaknesses and strengths. This method is all-encompassing and ought to aid in elucidating the required enhancements.

  • Determine Strategic goals and candidate Critical Success Factors

Identify the key strategic goals of the organization that are linked with the values and mission of the organization. Later, ask, “How can we reach there for every Objective?” Many things must happen for an organization to attain its strategic goals. Later on, these will evolve into the “candidate” Critical Success Factors.

For instance, if you have a strategic objective of reducing junk over successive years, then you will require the below CSFs to help accomplish it.

  • Reducing the emission of carbon.
  • Investing in renewable sources of energy.
  • Enhancing supply chains’ efficiency.
  • Expanding “green” offices and methods.
  • Assess and prioritize the Critical Success Factors

Evaluate and recognize the candidate CSFs necessary to the success of the company.

When you investigate the different Critical Success Factors, you will realize that some are dependent or connected. For instance, if an organization has two CSFs, like attracting new customers and increasing brand awareness, then the former CSF will be given importance over the latter because it will help the organization in raising its market share.

Prioritizing the Critical Success Factors allows you to concentrate on the regions the business has to succeed. Trash the insignificant Critical Success Factors.

  • Communicate to the key stakeholders about the Critical Success Factors

After recognizing Critical Success Factors, you have to evaluate who can help in accomplishing those Critical Success Criteria. Who will be responsible for those CSFs? What will be the essential activities for achieving those CSFs? Do any roles or tasks need changes?

After the completion of this:

  • Inform about the selected CSFs to the appropriate parties.
  • Make sure everyone comprehends what they are capable of and also their importance.
  • Acquire information from the relevant stakeholders as they can assist you in identifying problems that require quick attention.
  • Track and estimate the progress

Define how the Critical Success Factors are quantified and monitored. This could be difficult to achieve because Critical Success Criteria are usually rather extensive and might need input from multiple stakeholders and business units.

One way to measure and monitor progress efficiently is by setting up multiple KPIs (Key performance indicators) against CSFs.

For instance, if the goal of CSF is to reduce the emission of carbon, then KPI has to include objective information like “Reduce the emission of carbon by 30% by the year 2035”.

The establishment of monitoring systems allows you to maintain development on track. A responsible individual must be entrusted with the task of gathering input and monitoring the progress of the organization toward the accomplishment of specific KPIs and CSFs.

 Taking up CSFs for the Strategic Business Planning

  • Strategic planning always comes first

Strategic planning is the basis of every goal-setting method. Project Managers should develop their strategy before they set a goal. A good strategic plan helps to recognize the path the business aims to follow and the necessary steps to get there.

  • Choose KRAs and KPIs

KPAs (Key performance areas) are the business aspects that are vital for the overall success of the organization. For example, in the software production process, the degree of accessibility of software and the extent to which it will be bug-free will be among the most vital performance aspects. Alternatively, for product manufacturing, including fully operational facilities can be a crucial KPA.

To determine which performance aspects have to be prioritized when establishing the goals, it is necessary to have a stable insight into KPAs. Decide on a method to achieve your aims.

Once the strategic method is set, you must begin taking up a goal-setting process.

  • Use KPIs and CSFs to measure the progress

You can use KPIs and CSFs to quantify the progress.

The pairing of CSFs with KPIs makes both of them actionable. KPIs will be the quantifiable measures of how an enterprise is doing about the vital corporate objectives. KPIs help you to decide whether they will be on the precise track to fulfill the strategic objectives and accordingly their CSFs.

Example of Critical Success Factors

Let’s use a speculatory business such as Flavorful Fresh Fruits as an instance. To “grow up into the top fruit shop on Market Avenue by offering the best quality and freshest fruits to our customers”, says the goal statement of the enterprise.

The strategic objectives of the enterprise include:

  1. Obtain at least a 30% share of the market in the neighborhood.
  2. Make sure that the “farm to the customer for 70% of commodities in 24 hours” guarantee is maintained.
  3. Retain at least 98% satisfaction score of the client.
  4. Increase the product offering of the business to bring in additional clients.
  5. Maintain sufficient space for accommodating a variety of items desired by the buyers.

Flavorful Fresh Fruits will be able to start developing potential Critical Success Factors with the aid of these objectives which have been explained below.

Objective Candidate CSFs
Earn a 30% local market share ●     Boost competitiveness with other local stores.

●     Draw in new customers.

Making sure that the “farm to the consumer within 24 hours for 70% of the commodities” guarantee is kept. ●     Build and maintain profitable rapport with regional vendors.
Maintain at least 98% satisfaction score of the client. ●     Strengthen employees and perform customer-centered, high-quality training.
Increase the selection of the product to bring in more clients. ●     Fetch fresh goods available locally.
Extend the store for accommodating additional consumers and merchandise. ●     Accept funding for the growth.

●     Attend any interruptions in business.

Once a potential Critical Success Factors list has been compiled by Flavorful Fresh Fruits, it can rank the most vital Critical Success Criteria in order of significance.

Attracting new clients is the potential key Critical Success Factor that has been chosen by Flavorful Fresh Fruits from the index that had been just proposed to them. The enterprise can not expand without a significant number of customers.

The second applicant carries out the process of forging relationships with the local suppliers. It is important to ensure the food’s freshness and to discover new outcomes.

The third possibility might be to obtain financial approval for the growth. Without the financial aid required to extend its retail area, it will not be possible for the store to realize its goals.

Other components, comprising employee training and retention, are vital but will not have similar consequential and direct impacts. Hence, they won’t be as vital as other factors to the success of the company.

CSFs for Projects

Below are some Critical Success Criteria for the projects.

Extensive Preparation:

The comprehensive technique gives a strong start to the project, increasing the likelihood for it to be successful. Everyone who is entangled in the project, along with the stakeholders, will be familiar with the path taken by the project. The project team will be able to attain the critical deadlines and also uphold their organization, gratitude to the comprehensive strategy which was done.

Planning might result in a bunch of positive results. This initial phase of the project specifies a timetable based on facts. It also offers a distinct window of the period during which the cost appraisals can be made. By outlining both deliverables and milestones clearly, as it progresses, the project will make things easier for everyone involved in it.

The process of planning produces an early warning approach and defines the requirements needed for the resources. The warning system clarifies expectations if there are discrepancies.

Smart Team Members:

For a project to succeed, the organization requires skilled and talented team members. The organization requires project personnel who are dedicated and passionate about achieving project goals. The team should have realistic goals and strive for success.

The project manager has to face many issues if there is a lack of competence in the team. Poor leadership and an uncoordinated team will cause the failure of the project. The project manager must ensure that each member of the team is assigned a task based on their abilities.

Regular interaction:

Effective communication is critical in completing an endeavor. For a team to complete the stringent deadline, each member must be familiar with everything associated with the project. Try to figure out how and when to say “no”. Don’t make commitments that you are unable to keep. Being a project manager, be direct about your commitments.

Effective Risk Management:

Projects will miss the schedule in most cases. Risks created throughout the project can result in some initiatives failing horribly.

As the project manager, make sure that stakeholders are told about the risk log and also where to find that. The project team can fix the problem with the existing schedules even if something occurs. It helps in making the clients confident about the development of the project.


The project manager’s position is not that simple and they have to be creative while operating a variety of techniques throughout the project. The project Manager should determine the vital success factors and assure that they are met so that the project can end successfully.