Critical Success Factors (CSF)

5 Feb

Wagner and Poon, authors of “Critical success factors revisited”, “suggest the existence of critical success factors (CSFs)” in relation to developing IS systems for senior executives.

Through a study of six organisations the research conducted showed that either companies “get it right” through being successful on all CSFs or the opposite occurs and the company fails on each CSF.

“Among the six cases for which data were collected through in-depth interviews with company executives, three organizations seemed to manage all the CSFs properly, while two others managed all CSFs poorly. Only one organization showed a mixed scorecard, managing some factors well and some not so well. At the completion of the study, this organization could neither be judged as a success, nor as a failure”.

The paper describes CSFs as “conditions that need  to be met to assure success of the system”. Poon and Wagner cite Rockart and DeLong’s paper and believe that their six CSFs are still important today, however from their own research they advocate two additional CSFs. They are listed below.

  1. Committed and informed executive sponsor
  2. Operating sponsor
  3. Appropriate IS staff
  4. Appropriate technology
  5. Management of data
  6. Clear link to objectives
  7. Management of organisational resistance
  8. Management of system evolution and spread

The above 8 CSFs are all taken from Rockart and DeLong’s paper and they are pretty much self-explanatory. The following two are from Poon and Wagner’s research.

  1. Evolutionary development methodology : Believed to be a key factor in IS success, through prototyping executives can identify how a certain technology may provide success.
  2. Carefully defined information and system requirements: Making sure the correct information and requirements are present is essential to any project if developers are serious about creating a successful system.

The findings of Poon and Wagner confirm the earlier views of Rockart and DeLong but they also add that “organizations may get it right simply by managing three factors, championing at the executive and operational levels , re-sources, and linking the system to business objectives”.

Poon and Wagner advocate business goals must be translated into information needs and subsequently into “well managed systems” and that this may see projects succeed.



Poon, PoPo, and Christian Wagner. “Critical success factors revisited: success and failure cases of information systems for senior executives.” Decision Support Systems 30.4 (2001): 393-418.

J.F. Rockart, D.W. DeLong, Executive Support Systems The
Emergence of Top Management Computer Use, Dow JonesIrwin, Homewood, IL, 1988.


2 Responses to “Critical Success Factors (CSF)”


  1. Top Management Support, a key factor in IS Project Success? « So Opinionated … - February 5, 2013

    […] [3]“Critical Sucess Factors (CSF)”, […]

  2. The role of the Conscientious Dissenter on an IT-Business case team « So Opinionated … - February 6, 2013

    […] ronnoc90 and lucid21 both mention in their work on IT Success how appropriate staff (be it IT or otherwise) can lead to IT project success. I would argue that this should be extended to include appropriate personalities in the situation of creating a fair and balanced IT-business case. […]

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