Magazine article PM Network

Speak of Success

Magazine article PM Network

Speak of Success

Article excerpt

Communicate critical success factors to your sponsors for better control of your projects and programs.

Closing the communication gap between executives and project managers remains a critical issue in the profession today, and PM Network addresses the topic with the launch of this quarterly column.

A few years ago when I discussed the success of the AXA/Sun-Life merger with Jon Bassett, AXA Life's U.K. implementation director, he told me that the establishment of critical success factors (CSFs) was key.

When seeking support and funding for your program or project, you must convince executives that you will deliver meaningful benefits. CSFs and their key deliverables offer a powerful means to market your program or project. By defining CSFs, you will ensure that you meet stated benefits and that resources will be focused on the actions that achieve business results. There are basically two types of CSFs:

1. Generic CSFs are capabilities that always should be present and usually are linked to the organization, such as effective communication, top management support or user involvement. "If absent [they] are likely to lead to project failure, or at least suboptimal project achievement," says Max Wideman, PMI Fellow, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, B.C., Canada. "Their presence, however, does not mean that the project will be successful, just more likely to be successful."

2. Specific CSFs are actions that are required to achieve a specific program or project strategy in its determined context or circumstance, such as improve IT system performance or develop new financial product. These must be determined for each program or project because they are in direct correlation to the program's or project's success. CSFs should be "focused on success for that particular manager in that particular job," says James H. Dobbins, program manager, ANSER Inc. …

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