Critical Success Factors Simplified: Implementing the Powerful Drivers of Dramatic Business Improvement, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Critical Success Factors Simplified

Implementing the Powerful Drivers of Dramatic Business Improvement, 1st Edition

By Marvin T. Howell

Productivity Press

156 pages | 59 B/W Illus.

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Hardback: 9781439811177
pub: 2009-11-20
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pub: 2009-11-20
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Critical-to-success factors (CSFs) have become essential elements to strategic planning and no business can achieve consistent success without effectively adopting them. To take full advantage of CSFs, however, an organization must first understand what they are and how they can be used to drive organizational initiatives and processes. Critical Success Factors Simplified: Implementing the Powerful Drivers of Dramatic Business Improvement provides a concise manual on CSFs that will teach you how to identify and select the right CSFs, measure their impact, and adjust them as needed to reach your goals.

In the first section of the book, Howell, a mechanical and industrial engineer responsible for award-winning initiatives in the military, public utilities industry, and private business gives you an education in CSFs, outlining the highly acclaimed Rockart CSF method. He also demonstrates two powerful techniques for identifying external CSFs, a simple process for generating internal CSFs, and a road map for creating an organization-wide CSF program. The second section of the book covers specific applications of CSFs, from strategic planning to individual pursuits.

CSFs can be employed at all levels of an organization to initiate new ideas, increase productivity, or improve customer service. They can direct a huge corporation or facilitate a departmental improvement. Fleeting success can be achieved through mere luck, but most often sustainable success is accomplished with a plan that focuses in on those factors that you must address to accomplish your objective. This book will help you create such a plan.


If you want to be a senior executive or project leader, or if you are a senior executive or project leader and want to keep your job, read this book and put its principles to work. Employing these principles will enable you to identify what is critical and track these performance elements to achievement.

—Joseph A. "Bud" Ahearn, Major General, US Air Force (retired), Vice Chairman, emeritus, CH2MHill, Ltd

Table of Contents


Rockart’s Four Types of CSFs

Categorizing CSFs

Why Should You Implement CSFs in Your Organization?

Getting Started

Identifying CSFs: External CSFs

Environmental Scan

Evaluating the Findings

SWOT Analysis

Identifying CSFs: Internal CSFs

The Original CSF Method

Example: A Construction Company

The Five-Phase CSF Method

Phase 1: Scope

Phase 2: Collecting Data

Phase 3: Evaluate and Organize the Data

Phase 4: Identify and Select the CSFs

Phase 5: Analyzing and Validating CSFs

A Simple but Effective Method

The CSF Achievement Model

Step 1: Define the Goals or Objective of the Initiative You

Wish to Achieve

Steps 2 and 3: Identify and Select Your CSFs

Step 4: Determine Subfactors for Each Selected CSF

A Call Center Example


Traditional List

Writing the CSFs

Step 5: Measure CSF Implementation Progress

Method 1: Stages: Start to Finish Implementation Method

Method 2: Critical Success Levels

Method 3: SMART Objectives and Targets

Method 4: Traditional Industry Measures

Method 5: "Traffic Light" Measures

Method 6: Surveys

Method 7: Striving for Coverage: The "Scatter Approach"

Selecting the Right Indicator

All CSFs Are Not Created Equal

Graph the CSF’s Performance

Step 6: Monitor and Take Action

Six-Step Process Example: Implementing a Productivity Program

Step 1: Define the Goals and Objectives of the Initiative

Step 2: Identify the CSFs

Step 3: Select the Appropriate CSFs

Step 4: Determine Subfactors for Each Selected CSF

Step 5: Measure CSFs’ Implementation Progress

Step 6: Monitor and Take Action

Implementing CSFs Organization-wide

Strategic Planning and CSFs

CSFs to Ensure Strategic Planning Success

Relationship between KRAs and CSFs in Strategic Planning

Example: A Barbershop

A Systems Example Using CSFs: ISO 14001

The Selected CSFs

Measuring the CSFs

Benchmarking and CSFs

Benchmarking Overview

CSFs for Benchmarking

Measuring the CSFs

Critical Success Measures for Process Success

Process Example

Critical-to-Success Measures

Recap of the Type of Measures Used

Improving Job Performance through CSFs

Gathering the Information

Determining the CSFs

Example: A Blackjack Dealer

Identify CSFs, Measure, Track, and Take Action

Example: Military Recruiter

CSFs for Individuals

Opportunities to Use CSFs

Example: Buying a House


Appendix A: Key Result Areas

Appendix B: Brainstorming

Appendix C: Modified Nominal Group Technique

Appendix D: The Traditional CSF List for Management Initiatives

Appendix E: The CSF Method



Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Management Science
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Quality Control
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Information Management