Key drivers for success

Key drivers for success

In its pursuit to achieve success, an organisation should identify the critical success factors (CSFs) for the industry and also those that are particular to the organisation. CSFs are “the essential areas of activity that must be performed well if you are to achieve the mission, objectives or goals for your business or project.”

They are the few key areas where things must go right for the business to flourish. It is imperative that management and staff pay very close and careful attention to such activities because they enable the organisation to achieve its mission and objectives. In the business world there are so many things that attract our attention and therefore can distract us from the real thing.

Stephen Covey said: “The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.” If business leaders have to focus on things that matter there is need to have something that will drive them towards that direction, and CSF are the right factors that business leaders should focus on. Focusing on CSF will ensure the success of the business. Success will be measured by whether the business achieves its mission and goals.

In order to identify the CSF we need to look first at the organisation’s mission and objectives and then see which are the areas that need attention for the organisation to achieve its mission and objectives. To have maximum impact it’s usually advisable to keep the CSF to a minimum of not more than five.

Each industry has its own unique industry-specific CSFs but companies in each industry might not have identical CSFs. You need therefore to identify what will give you competitive advantage or an edge over competition; what is it that is central to the future of the organisation and to the achievement of that future.

CSFs are so important for a business because they allow firms to focus their efforts on building their capabilities to meet the CSF’s and eventually their mission and goals.

Some of the common CSFs that will be found in businesses are:
People – the availability of labour with the right skills and attitude;
Resources – the availability of materials and equipment;
Innovation – a company should be constantly developing new ideas, being creative;

Marketing – the firm should ensure customer satisfaction, first class customer service, brand awareness and have effective advertising;
Operations/production should ensure a quality product or service and also continuously improve production processes;

And lastly one needs to ensure that there are adequate cash flows and good cash controls in finance. Each CSF should be linked to a goal and be measurable or observable for it to be effective. It is important to have a good grasp of the business itself, its environment, the industry, and the competition as the organisation develops its CSFs.

Identifying CSFs for a manufacturing organisation is not difficult. Trying to identify CFSs for services is a bit of a challenge though. As a general rule business success in a service industry totally depends on the manager and his team’s skills and resources, and the ability to bring customers to the table. The firm’s team is the ultimate critical success factor for the business. The organisation in a service industry therefore needs to pay attention to the following issues:

l Every interaction with a customer should be a positive experience for the customer because if the customer is delighted with your service, he/she will give you more repeat or referral business.

l You need to be a very good communicator. One cannot taste or touch your service so you need to communicate how your service is top class. This will draw customers towards you or your organisation.

l Be visible, available and accessible to offer your expert advice. This is how you can develop networks necessary for your business to succeed.

l If you employ people ensure that you recruit the best and the right people with the right skills. Employees with sought after skills will exude confidence to clients as they interact with them. They bring innovative ideas to clients.
The service you provide should be viewed differently from “any other” service. It should have an edge over the other services. It should not be viewed as any other service.

Be passionate about whatever service you are providing. This will also rub onto your clients and they will therefore appreciate your offering.
Businesses will face a lot of competition in the marketplace.

Where there is stiff competition the business should focus on keeping the key customers happy by concentrating on the CSFs. You are in business to make money through your customers therefore pay close attention to the customers by providing them with what they want.

Customers would want the right product with the right quality provided with excellent service.
Quality product and excellent customer service are some of the CSFs, among others, that a business will have to attend to if it has to win and retain customers and compete effectively in the market.

Competition brings out the best in a company. With competition breathing on your neck you are kept on your toes and so you have to keep your product or service fresh, appealing and attractive to customers. With competition you become very creative at whatever you do. If you have to succeed in the industry you are in you then have to be innovative.

Competition is educative for your business. Seeing what your competitors do well can teach you a lot about your business. You will be able to identify other CSFs that you might not have identified as your competitors come up with certain business practices which will provide you with valuable insight into the state of the market, and shows you what works and what doesn’t.

l Stewart Jakarasi is a business and financial strategist and a lecturer in business strategy, advanced performance management and entrepreneurship. He is the Managing Consultant of Shekina Consulting (Pty) Ltd, a multi-dimensional consulting firm, and he provides advisory and guidance on leadership, strategy and execution, corporate governance, preparation of business plans, tender documents and on how to build and sustain high-performing organisations.

He is also a link with international investors intending to invest in the country. For assistance in implementing some of the concepts discussed in these articles please contact him on the following contacts:, call on +266 58881062 or WhatsApp +266 62110062.

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