Critical Success Factors are what organizations use to measure their success.
Whether you are managing a restaurant, a non-profit organization, or a church, it is important to know that you are focusing on those things that help move the organization closer to achieving its mission.
Anyone who manages an organization understands how challenging it is to stop the day-to-day tasks and check how well the organization performs.
It has been said that what gets measured gets done, but finding an easy way to evaluate how the organization is doing keeps many in leadership from doing so.
Many organizations use a quality improvement tool called Critical Success Factors (CSF).
These indicators measure how well an organization is accomplishing its strategic plan and objectives.
For instance, if a nonprofit organization relies on donors to support its cause, it may measure and track the number of donors.
CSFs are customized to each organization and help provide focus to steer the organization toward fulfilling its mission and vision through strategic objectives.
These indicators of success are used to identify those things that, if done well, lead to breakthrough results.
Most organizations have between eight and twelve CSFs and adjust them as strategy changes.
Too many measures can make it difficult to target those things that would achieve the greatest results.
However, having too few limits the organization’s ability to move to the next level.
It is essential to have SMART Goals attached to the CSF measures, so there is a strategy and timeline for achieving targets.
As a general rule of thumb, CSF should target those things that affect quality, cost, customer satisfaction, market share, and increased revenues.
Monitoring these targets monthly, provides a quick visual for how successful the organization is, and keeping goals at the forefront, is the best way to ensure they are achieved.
4 Examples of Critical Success Factors
Example #1 – Restaurant CSF
Restaurants depend on return customers. They understand that when a customer has a great meal, not only do they come back but they bring their friends with them.
For a great customer experience, it is vital to maintain the quality of the food. One way to measure that quality is to keep track of how many meals are sent back to the kitchen.
Another way to ensure customers enjoy their visit is to have well-trained employees who provide great service.
Organizations with high turnover have a difficult time maintaining a great customer experience. The reason is simple – when the restaurant is continuously training its employees, it loses the benefit having of a seasoned, well-trained worker interacting with its cutomers.
Example #2 – Non-profit Organization CSF
Nonprofit organizations exist to help others. They rely solely on the support of its donors and its army of free labor (volunteers).
To measure the success of a non-profit, it is important to track how many donate to its cause, how many provide free labor for its mission, and how many people receive its services.
In addition, it is essential to understand the experience of all of its key stakeholders – employees, volunteers, and service recipients.
Each of these groups can be monitored and tracked.
Example #3 – Church CSF
Growing churches understand the importance of its free labor (volunteers) to help achieve its mission.
It also recognizes that its church facilities and programs are limited to the generous contributions of its members.
While churches don’t exist to see how big it can become, it does exist to help its community and members.
Churches often track things like attendance, weekly contributions, and monitor how well it meets the needs of its core customers – employees, volunteers, and members.
Understanding these measures can help the church board allocate resources to reach more people, improve systems and process to ensure those who call the ministry home, recognize that their free labor and financial sacrifices are worth the effort.
Example #4 – Car Dealer CSF
A car dealership relies on a happy customer base to maintain and grow its business. Satisfied customers are return customers that refer others.
The car business also works to gain as much of the market share as possible as it competes with the dealer down the road.
Keeping track of how much of that market it maintains allows the dealer to focus its energy on growing its base.
To grow a base, customer satisfaction is extremely important. Service after the sale for car repair can be one measure.
Tracking the accuracy of its diagnostics and repairs is a great way to improve service after the sale.
These are merely examples of the kinds of indicators that can be targeted and measured for success.
Like any other business goals, CSF are only as good as they are monitored, measured, and tracked for performance.
There should be reporting processes put in place, and these indicators should be reviewed on a monthly basis by senior leaders of the organization.
But how does a church come up with a list of critical success factors?
Start by looking at your strategic plan and pull out those mission-critical strategies and identify a CSF target.
For instance, if growing your volunteer base is essential to your mission, make a CSF that monitors the number of volunteers needed to manage all of the church programs and ministries.
Critical success factors are merely another tool that your church can use to monitor its effectiveness. Take the time to identify and monitor your CSFs and you may be surprised at what you learn!
Can your church identify its indicators of success?