Critical Success Factors Defined (With Tips)

Critical success factor (CSF) is a management term for an element that is necessary for an organization or project to achieve its mission. To achieve their goals they need to be aware of each key success factor (KSF) and the variations between the keys and the different roles key result area (KRA).[1] Main success keys.

A CSF is a critical factor or activity required for ensuring the success of a company or an organization. The term was initially used in the world of data analysis and business analysis. For example, a CSF for a successful Information Technology project is user involvement.[2]

Critical success factors should not be confused with success criteria. The latter are outcomes of a project or achievements of an organization necessary to consider the project a success or the organization successful. Success criteria are defined with the objectives and may be quantified by key performance indicators (KPIs).

There are many tools to help to implement The keys Success Factor like Business Model Canvas that will help to achieve a Business model or just a goal.

SAP SuccessFactors – an Overview

How to choose critical success factors

Your specific choice of critical success factors will probably vary depending on the kind of industry you are in, your project goals and your markers for success. The process for choosing critical success factors is usually similar between industries and circumstances, however. You can follow these steps to help choose critical success factors for your business or task:

1. Assemble your team

Working with others from different departments and levels of the organization can help you incorporate a diversity of ideas and areas of influence. A unified critical success factor planning team can also help establish a unified workplace culture that emphasizes productive teamwork.

2. Specify your mission and goals

Critical success factors are intended to support a companys mission and goals, so it is important to clearly define those goals early in the process. Your business may already have a well-defined mission statement, in which case you might remind your team of those objectives and align your expectations. Determining critical success factors might also provide an opportunity to develop a new mission statement for your business or revisit older goals. It can be helpful to set specific goals within the scope of your companys values.

For example, a companys goal might be to provide a global retail customer base with the tools they need to communicate effectively in a fast-paced world. This goal specifies a desired outcome that reflects the businesss values, which will allow company leadership to identify specific critical success factors.

3. Identify and analyze variables

After your team has identified and aligned with your desired goals, consider the variables that might affect your success in reaching them. Questions involving who, what, when, where and why can provide a starting point for identifying variables that might impact the outcome of your business objectives. If you are working on a team, then a collaborative discussion might also help reveal factors that can affect your success.

For example, if a companys goal is to provide a global retail customer base with the tools they need to communicate effectively in a fast-paced world, you might consider who can and should be involved, what items are needed, where the most effective production can take place and so forth.

Then, you can make meaning from the variables you have identified by analyzing how well they currently contribute to the companys success and how well they potentially could perform. Sometimes, this process can involve highly technical analysis of the factors that contribute to success such as statistical analysis and data modeling. This might also be a more subjective process of identifying qualitative elements that affect your success.

4. Articulate your critical success factors

You can use the information your team develops regarding goals and variables to then identify and articulate your critical success factors. Consider specifically how your business operations support the maximum potential benefit of each variable and the tools you will use to measure them. For example, your goal might be to provide a global customer base with communication tools, and you may know that your supply chain is a variable that can affect your success. In this case, you might identify supplier relationships as a one of your critical success factors.

You may wish to share your critical success factors with all employees, shareholders and the community to encourage widespread attention to their success. If so, you can use communication tools, such as an employee newsletter or a celebratory company-wide event, to draw positive attention to your goals and critical success factors.

5. Follow up

Critical success factors are likely to change over time. You can revisit your mission, variables and critical success factors as often as is helpful to support your organizations success. When you reassess your critical success factors, you may wish to reconvene the same team that wrote them, or involve different people for different perspectives. Consider tracking the way your critical success factors develop over time in writing so you can monitor patterns of change.

What are critical success factors?

Critical success factors are the functions of your business that must operate well in order to maximize its potential. They are often connected to specific goals and help support an intended positive outcome of a program, project or strategy. For example, if a team planned to implement a new scheduling strategy, they might identify their new scheduling software as a critical success factor because the new scheduling process would be most successful if the software ran well.

Critical success factor tips

Consider these tips when choosing critical success factors:


Knowing which goals, variables and critical success factors are most important can help focus your work productively. Consider choosing just two or three goals or variables to address using critical success factors. If you write a long list of critical success factors, consider focusing on implementing just a few at a time.


If you are working as a team to develop critical success factors, listening carefully to each members ideas can make the process more efficient and enjoyable. Practice active listening skills to maximize the benefit of your collaborative effort.


Choosing critical success factors can be a complex process. Consider implementing a note-taking strategy or designating a specific team member to keep track of discussions and decisions. When your process involves gathering and analyzing data, you may wish to review best practices in data management to help keep you organized.

Think critically

Critical thinking skills support sound decision-making in most situations, including selecting critical success factors. Critical thinking involves rationally observing and processing information and reflecting on your own thought processes, and it can be useful in any stage of critical success factor development.

Tracking critical success factors

Tracking your critical success factors is important if you want to return to them for assessment and reevaluation, and if you wish to use them to guide your business decisions. You can measure and monitor your critical success factors using software that is specific to your industry, for example. You might also choose to designate a specific employee or team member to each critical success factor. By delegating, you might streamline your tracking process and maximize your own productive time. Consider developing a calendar to follow up on critical success factors to ensure long-term alignment with your companys strategic goals.


What are examples of success factors?

Critical success factors examples
  • Increased customer satisfaction.
  • Quality service.
  • Increased customer feedback.
  • Higher quality of menu items.
  • Improved marketing strategies.

What are the 5 critical success factors?

As a reminder, the 5 Key Success Factors are:
  • Strategic Focus (Leadership, Management, Planning)
  • People (Personnel, Staff, Learning, Development)
  • Operations (Processes, Work)
  • Marketing (Customer Relations, Sales, Responsiveness)
  • Finances (Assets, Facilities, Equipment)

What do you mean by success factors?

A success factor is any knowledge, skill, trait, motive, attitude, value or other personal characteristic that is essential to perform the job or role and that differentiates solid from superior performance.

What are the four success factors?

Four Critical Success Factors
  • Sound strategy. Success starts with a sound strategy. …
  • Right priorities. Straightening up our clients’ priorities is something Guy and I do frequently when coaching. …
  • Committed staff. This is hardest one of the four. …
  • Strong self-discipline.

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