Critical Success Factors (CSF) in Project Management

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Apr 18, 2024

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In the project that you do, you want to realize success by completing all the tasks, processes successfully to meet the expectations of the customers. There is one method that contributes to this success. 

  • It is what you want to deliver that is the delivery becomes your Critical Success Factors(CSF) 
  • What the delivery requires such as the plans, resources, equipment, and materials becomes the Critical Success Criteria’s
  • What will make the delivery successful it is the Key Performance Indicators

Types of critical success factors 

Before we talk about critical success factors in project management let us understand the 4 main types to understand which organization you belong to. Only when you understand this you can know how to implement it in managing projects. 

1. Industry CSF – Based on the character of the business. For example, if it is a product development start-up business, then CSF will be an innovation. It is important to always find novelty to get into the market as a startup. On the other hand, an established service firm will aim at customer retention as their CSF.

2. Strategic CSF – This is now narrowing down to the strategy your business will use to win the competition. For example, a cost-effective solution is one strategy, and producing in large volume is another. 

3. Environmental CSF – This is purely the environment that influences the business. It can be the location your business is in, the people, or the competitors who decide the CSF from time to time. 

4. Temporal CSF – The internal modifications in the business are called temporal and as the name implies, they are temporary. It can be handling the specific issue at a given point in time. 

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There 5 CSFs to achieve the targets and the delivery we want are as follows,

1) People – People are the resources needed from the start to the end of the project. You need the people at the right time and at the right place to do the right thing. Without people, everything will fall apart and thus becomes useless. Unless there are people to realize the benefits, to do work, to manage, to contribute to the work, to control, and to deal with other stakeholders. 

There are various personnel resources as per the Prince2 they are 

  • a senior executive at the supplier side
  • customer organization
  • Project assurance
  • project board
  • project manager
  • senior customer executive
  • Specialist people who do the work, and so on
  • supplier organization
  • Team managers

There is no project without the people. So you must have the people hiring and people management as the key but more importantly, the key resources are the people who do the actual work.

2) Project Plans – There must be thorough planning in place from the project start to project finish. The plans as per the prince2 are for example the project plan, stage plan, team plans, etc. The project plan consists of the most detailed steps on the project, such as the roles and responsibility, how to achieve the delivery, where, when, and who will work on the detailed plans and how to do the work and so on. 


  • The project plan is written by the project manager and the inputs are provided by the project board and signed off by the project sponsor.
  • Unlike project plan which details everything from start to finish, the stage plan is something that is used by the project manager for the different stages from project initiation, project planning, project execution, and project monitoring and project closure. The stage will contain what each stage will accomplish, how and by whom, and what is required to accomplish the work in each of the particular stages. In project planning stage contain and knows importance of project planning.
  • The team plan is made and used by the team managers who will work on the projects with the specialist people under them.
  • Team plans are more specific to each stage and each task and activity the team is going to accomplish.

3) Communication – Communication is the key to any project, one should deeply look into this success factor. Projects come in various shapes, sizes, scope, risks, and benefits. Moreover, the projects as seen in the above factors consist of people who work on the project and make the delivery to the customer. To make it a successful project various communication channels must be opened such as the customer relationship, account ownership, customer engagement, team management, team engagement, project monitoring, etc.


There are a lot of documentations also created such as

  • Project Initiation Document
  • Project plan, issue register
  • Risk register
  • Risk management approach
  • Change management plan
  • Quality register
  • Quality management approaches, 
  • End-stage report 
  • Project closure report, etc.

So who will create and who will read this, different stakeholders create and different stakeholders that read it. One of the important things is how we will communicate with each other such as team meetings, project meetings, and customer meetings, etc.

4) Managing Risks – No project is perfect and no project is there without issues and risks in it. The risk is defined by threat with treating actors’ exploits vulnerabilities with the probability of occurrence affect assets and causing an impact. At minimum Prince2 recommends the creation of risk register and risk management plan. The risk register consists of parameters such as assets, threats, vulnerability, CIA (Confidentiality, Integrity, and Availability) values for probability and occurrence, risk score, risk statements, risk treatment plan, year, residual risk, qualitative and quantitative risk analysis etc. 


The risk management plan consists of

  • risk identification
  • risk assessment
  • risk treatment
  • risk monitoring
  • risk communication
  • risk reporting

The negative risks are treated in the following ways, avoid, transfer, accept, mitigate, share, and prepare for contingencies. One must prepare for this uncertainty in the projects and assess them, treat them, monitor them, and finally communicated and reported. One must have a thorough communication channel for highlighting the risks to the top management.

5) Project Closure – There must be strong project closure such as obtaining the sign off for the deliverables. One of the most important things is to release the resources of the projects so that there is no cost incurred and resources can be utilized for other purposes. So strong project closure is one of the critical success factors. 


  • Project Initiation Documents and project end reports are updated and signed off by the project board.
  • Lessons learned register document is one of the important documents which are very important for the next projects. This produces the change in which we manage and control the project for the next and subsequent projects.
  • Prince 2 recommends a minimum of PID, End project report, and Lessons learned report to be published at the end of the project.

Understand the above five to have a clear picture of What is critical success factor? After this, we will move on to know its importance in projects. 

Importance of critical success factors

  • The project goals must be agreed by all the stakeholders of the project
  • There needs a division which project goals are critical and which are not
  • Next step is to prioritize each of the project goals based on the criticality
  • Have measurable goals and metrics for the measurements
  • Communication of the Critical Success factors to all the stakeholders.
  • Record and document all the critical success factors.

Critical success factors example

For example, we can evaluate the construction company and see what the critical success factors are.

Constructions of House is the deliverable

  • People working in the construction of the house are the first CSF
  • House and project plans and Materials needed for the construction will form the second critical factor
  • Communication from the customer to Construction Company, from the construction company to the engineers, from engineers to the workers and back to the customers forms the third CSF.
  • Highlighting the construction risks such as the delivery time, the escalation cost, seasonal rains, rise in the cost of materials, etc forms the fourth CSF
  • Once the project is completed then the workers are released for other work and the house is handed over to the customer forms the fifth CSF.

Steps involved in implementing critical success factor

  • The high-level project briefs must be made from the project requirements.
  • Do project breakdown structure and work break down the structure
  • Think of dependencies and how all the CSF's are connected.
  • Keep informed all the stakeholders of the external and internal CSF

Conclusion - Get ready to implement critical success factors in project management

Are you ready to implement the CSF? Prince2 strongly recommends the implementation of the CSF for the successful delivery of the project. We recommend you to take up the online training in Prince2 Foundation and practitioner with StarAgile and plan for the certifications. To register click on the link provided and keep reading other blogs from StarAgile. 

Happy Learning!!!

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