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Critical Success Factors

Page history last edited by FOLIO Team 13 years, 5 months ago

Managing Change for Health Information Professionals (MCHIP)  



 July 2004



Critical Success Factors (CSFs)



Critical Success Factors (CSFs) are processes which must be achieved to reach goals. For instance, to win the Cup, a football club must win key matches (how are England doing?). Once CSFs have been identified, from them you can list the resources needed to deliver them (in the football club’s case, having players of the right calibre, making sure they get enough training and that they work well as  team). In addition to the right sort and number of staff, CSFs may include culture and communication.



CSFs often develop from the process of benchmarking, or identifying appropriate quality standards for an organisation: CSFs then formalise the steps needed to reach those quality marks.

For example, in academic institutions, a key priority at the moment is doing well in the next Research Assessment Exercise (RAE), which will examine the quality and quantity of the institution’s published research. Not only will good returns enhance the unit’s reputation as an environment in which to pursue high quality research, but it will probably directly affect future levels of central funding. CSFs in doing well in the RAE might include:


  • Recruiting staff with good research records (the more cynical may say it involves poaching staff from other academic bodies, who have already have publications within the right time scale)

  • Offering training in research methods to existing staff

  • Running in-house writing groups, to provide a supportive environment  to convert research reports into papers which peer-reviewed journals will accept for publication.

  • Finding out how the RAE will operate: who is eligible to be returned, what is the census period for papers to include, what are the criteria for grading papers? (In practice not so easy, as the central powers keep moving the goal posts and usually change the rules after all the returns are in anyway).

  • Make sure that research staff have fair allocations of teaching work to allow them to pursue research interests (or possibly buying in teaching cover to free their time).

  • Having mechanisms to capitalise on competitive research bids to maximise income to support future research projects: disseminate information on calls for proposals; set up networks with complementary academic units to write good collaborative bids.

  • Make sure all research activity is accurately recorded, with a central up to-date register of all publications.

  • Setting targets (e.g. one paper in a peer-reviewed journal for each full time academic each year) to achieve the right number of good quality papers for a good return for the unit as a whole.



CSFs allow future planning, to realise the steps on the road to the goal. In our case-study, that means making sure all the milestones are in place for delivering a successful change management programme. Finally, at the end celebrate the process: give positive feedback,  offer praise where due, consider methods of dissemination (posters,  short reports in for “in-house” newsletters, a write up for publication, a submission to a conference); and record the lessons for next time. You should be sure not to miss the opportunity to reward change competent staff. Not only will those staff who are doing well continue to do well but also those staff who need to acquire additional knowledge and ability to facilitate change will recognize this as a desired behavior that is acknowledged and rewarded by your organisation.





Answer the following questions and record your response in your portfolio:


  • What have you identified as the “critical success factors” in the case study?
  • What would you regard as an appropriate way to celebrate success in the case study scenario?




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