Understanding Critical Success Factor Analysis

Daniel Austin
W. W. Grainger, Inc.
W3C / WSAWG Spring 2002
Overview of CSF Analysis
CSF analysis is:
A method developed at MIT's Sloan school by John Rockart to guide businesses in creating and measuring success
Widely used for technology and architectural planning in enterprise I/T
A top-down methodology that is especially suitable for designing systems as opposed to applications
A reductionist method for going from an abstract vision to concrete requirements
What Is a Critical Success Factor?
A key area where satisfactory performance is required for the organization to achieve its goals
A means of identifying the tasks and requirements needed for success
At the lowest level, CSFs become concrete requirements
A means to prioritize requirements
The CSF Method
Start with a vision: mission statement
Develop 5-6 high level goals
Develop hierarchy of goals and their success factors
Leads to concrete requirements at the lowest level of decomposition (a single, implementable idea)
Along the way, identify the problems being solved and the assumptions being made
Cross-reference usage scenarios and problems with requirements
Results of the Analysis
Mission statement
Hierarchy of goals and CSFs
Lists of requirements, problems, and assumptions
Analysis matrices
Problems vs. Requirements matrix
Usage scenarios vs. Requirements matrix
Solid usage scenarios
Relationship to Usage Scenarios
Usage scenarios or "use cases"; provide a means of determining:
Are the requirements aligned and self-consistent?
Are the needs of the user being met as well as those of the enterprise?
Are the requirements complete?
Example: From Goal to Requirements
Things to Think About
Brainstorming: "if we do all of these things, will we succeed?"
Refactoring and rearranging the hierarchy are part of the process (the hierarchy itself is important information)
Leave no stone unturned: every idea is a good one
Different levels of abstraction require careful navigation!
CSF analysis:
Produces results that express the needs of the enterprise clearly and (hopefully) completely
Allows us to measure success and prioritize goals in a sensible way
When used together with traditional usage scenarios, ensures that the needs of both the user and the enterprise are being met
See also the PowerPoint version.
WSAWG face-to-face minutes