Step 1: Pull together the team that will be working with the CSFs (Critical Success factors).
Before you do anything else, it is critical to pull together a team that will be working on critical success factors for your business. This should start at the top level of the organization, as it’s extremely important to have senior-level buy-in. Some organizations choose to bring in a consultant to facilitate the process, but you can lead the discussion internally as well.
Step 2: Have employees submit their ideas or give feedback.
It’s important that employees around the organization are able to provide their feedback in some form when you are determining your 10-15 high-level CSFs. But, this step could come into play after step three, depending on your preferences. You could either have input from other departments play a role from the get-go, or you could come up with your CSFs with a smaller group and then shop those around to get interoffice feedback. Regardless of what you choose, make sure ideas from across the board are taken into consideration.
Step 3: Use multiple frameworks to examine the key elements of your long-term goals.
Further understanding the key elements of your goals through one of these frameworks will take some time. But, they are vitally important in helping you define and determine your business’s critical success factors, so don’t skip this step:
OAS statement: OAS is an acronym for “Objective, Advantage, Scope.” This method further described in this article helps you describe your strategy with full confidence, and acts as a starting point for you to be able to drill down into the critical goals your business needs in order to execute this strategy.
SWOT analysis: SWOT is an acronym for “Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats.” FormSwift has a great example of how to put together a comprehensive SWOT analysis to help your organization “optimize performance, maximize potential, manage competition, and minimize risk.”
Strategic plan: This article outlines the six important steps you’ll need to take before you can get to a clear, understandable strategic plan.
Change agenda: A “change agenda” is exactly as it sounds it answers what an organization needs to change in order to achieve their goals. (You can read all about how to create a change agenda in this strategy execution toolkit.)
Step 4: Determine which factors are key in achieving your long-term organizational plan.
In order to achieve a strategic plan and overcome challenges in any of the aforementioned frameworks, you’ll need to understand what the key factors are in achieving a long-term plan. Essentially, you’ll combine the key elements you’ve gleaned from your OAS statement, SWOT analysis, strategic plan, and change agenda, and then determine what your top CSFs are. (This comprehensive guide will walk you through the process you should take to align your critical success factors and your projects.)
But you can’t simply lump any high-level organizational goals together and hope that it works out. You need to take all of your CSFs and divide them out by what the Balanced Scorecard framework calls “perspectives.” Traditional strategic frameworks would only examine a financial perspective, but that system is flawed. There are several more important aspects that can impact strategy that can’t properly be lumped into the category of finance. The four we suggest using are: Financial, Customer, Process, and People. These may be aligned in a different order if you are a nonprofit or government organization.
Step 5: Implement your company-wide strategic plan with your critical success factors in mind.
Don’t think that identifying your critical success factors, grouping them under a perspective, and then leaving them on a shelf to collect dust is going to help you succeed. You need to take action to get CSFs implemented throughout the organization.
One of the best ways to accomplish this is by creating a Balanced Scorecard (BSC), a strategic management framework that allows you to achieve your critical success factors in a more effective way. Scorecarding allows you to take your critical success factors (often called objectives when used to discuss the BSC) and use measures to help you understand if you’re achieving them. Initiatives allow you to understand if you’re taking the right actions to accomplish your CSFs, and action items are the small (but important) tasks delegated to help your team complete the initiatives.
Common business or project success factors
There are common success factors for an entire organization, a particular department, or a well-focused project, including:
An organization’s human resources include its personnel and its learning and development programs to support its staff. A company or department can ensure that it hires employees carefully based on skills and strengths while also providing opportunities for growth and development. Employees must understand the organization’s overall objectives and embrace the defined strategies to move the company closer to achieving its goals. This requires sharing the vision of the business, encouraging employee feedback, and ensuring personnel understand the company’s expectations. Creating a culture of cooperation and open communication can help a human resource department achieve success.
The finances success factor includes cash flow and the company’s assets, facilities, and equipment. Areas to consider within finances include regularly reviewing pricing to remain competitive, tracking vital financial data, and ensuring financial controls are in place to monitor cash flow, expenses, and profit margin. You may also ensure that each employee understands the importance of their position and how their job affects the bottom line. Finally, a company can assess if the facilities and equipment are adequate for the quantity and quality of work performed.
To ensure success in marketing, you may look at customer relations, sales, and company responsiveness. Marketing creates brand awareness and can drive sales, but it also significantly influences customer satisfaction and market sustainability. Monitor your customer’s needs, wants, and values continuously. Try to respond to your customer regardless of where they are in the sales process to show you appreciate them. Marketing is also about collecting, tracking, and analyzing customer data, including sales, trends, and satisfaction levels. Encouraging customer feedback and having open dialogues with your customers can expand your understanding of your marketplace and niche.
IS Team Composition
The implementation of IS is done by a team. The team consists of technical and management specialists from the vendor organization as well as people from the IS department and other stakeholder departments of the client organization. The constitution of the team is a very important and a critical factor in the successful implementation of IS. The team must consist of representatives from the user community, people who were part of the planning team, designing team in the client organization, other stakeholders in the client organization and people from the human resources department. The team must also obviously have members from the vendor organization who have sufficient knowledge of the IS being implemented. Their technical knowledge and managerial competence must be beyond any doubt. It is best if such a team works under the supervision of a top management functionary with sufficient powers and authority to take suitable decisions about the project so that better control can be exercised on the implementation schedules and issues that come up on the floor can be ironed out across the table. The urgency of the implementation in such cases is clearly demonstrated to the entire organization. The acceptability of the IS also improves. If the team consists of members from all stakeholders and is steered by a senior manager.
The team that is created must work in a cohesive manner with a sense of purpose. A unified front must be projected so that acceptability of the project improves. If the team members indulge is public spats, the chances of successful implementation are grim. However, every effort must be made to find out real issues and they must be dealt with in the right earnest. The team members must work as a team in all respects.
IS planning Quality
An IS project is as successful as its plan. If the planning was faulty, the IS implementation will no doubt be faulty. The IS will never be able to supply the kind of information the client desires if the planning has not been done diligently.
Diligent Project Management
The manner in which the implementation project is handled is also another critical success factor. Modern project management techniques must be used to estimate accurate cost and time schedules which must then be strictly monitored and adhered to. Any laxity will result in slippage of deadlines resulting loss of credibility of the project.
Change Management Initiatives and their Effectiveness
The process of implementation is normally a process of change and hence is riddled with challenges. Therefore, change management is probably the single most important factor in most large-scale IS implementations. The change management initiatives must be considered as part of the implementation effort and should be done proactively rather than in a reactive manner. Change management initiatives must also be done with the seriousness that it deserves. A callous attitude towards change management initiatives can cause more damage than good. Hence the attitude of management must be calibrated to suit the initiative.
Communication is a key element in any organization initiative. In IS implementation, communication is a key element for success. Both formal and informal communication needs to be managed for implementing the project successfully. Effective communication will improve transparency and build trust within the client organization, thereby reducing the dependence on change management interventions.
This is a key factor in the successful implementation of a new IS, making the IS acceptable to the users, reduces resistance to the IS and creates a better environment as a whole for the implementation to proceed smoothly. However, the quality of the training must be good and it must be explained to the users, the added benefits of the IS being implemented. The reason for migrating to the new IS will then be clearly understood by the users. Training will also help in the smooth transition from the old system to the new one without hampering the business process efficiency of the organization.
Technical Quality of IS
Even with all the support from the client, the implementation can fail if the basic technical product that comes from the vendor is of bad quality. Technical quality should be of good quality. This is a necessary condition. With bugs in the systems popping up every few minute, the system will have very slim chances of success. Clinch free technical system is therefore a critical factor.
HR Measures to Neutralize Organization Antibodies
Organization antibodies are people who find fault where none exists. Negativity and pessimism are the defining characteristics of such individuals. Sometimes they may also have motives to bad mouth a new system. When the influential staff bad months the new IS system, others follow them. This creates an avalanche effect and confidence in the new system drastically falls. This is an HR issue and has to be dealt with by the HR department in a firm and fair manner. It must be made known within the organization that there exists room for discussion and debate. Several teams and committees that are formed from the planning stage of a new IS initiative must be highlighted as forums for discussion and debate but only at the right time. Once a decision is taken about an IS by the top management, everyone must work towards making that decision a success. Any deviation from this must attract the necessary measures that it deserves. Such a measure will neutralize any antibodies and in their absence the implementation will be smooth.