critical success factors

Critical success factors are a limited number of key variables or conditions that have a tremendous impact on how successfully and effectively an organization meets its mission or the strategic goals or objectives of a program or project. Businesses must perform the activities associated with critical success factors at the highest possible level in order to achieve their intended objectives and achieve competitive advantage.

Identifying critical success factors can provide business teams insight into which tasks are truly important, providing points of reference from which to direct the success of a program or project.

The concept of critical success factors was first introduced in the 1960s by McKinsey & Co.'s D. Ronald Daniel, then further expanded on and popularized a decade later by John F. Rockart, an organizational theorist and senior lecturer at MIT's Sloan School of Management.

Critical success factors are also known as key success factors or key result areas.

This was last updated in October 2014

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