How critical the “Critical Success Factors” are in CSI?

While we talk about the Continual Service Improvement, there is always emphasis given on choosing the right Metrics and Measurement. We all produce and / or consume many reports every day (some relevant and some… well!). Over the time while working with various process groups and service owners, I have observed that the utmost focus remains on Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to measure the “right” things and in the urge of picking the “right KPIs”, we miss the bigger (or rather complete) picture. It reminds me the below picture!

KPI Prashant Arora Blog ITIL

Measuring KPIs lead to change in behaviors (desired or undesired) and that’s why it is critical to go one level up and start thinking beyond the KPIs.

The one level up is what I refer to are, Critical Success Factors (CSFs).  The factors which are critical to the success of any process or service need to be identified at the beginning (preferably at Service Design). Every KPI must be tied back to a CSF and the CSFs must support the levels above which are the Goals and Objectives.

Here is how it looks in action –

CSF KPI Linked Prashant Arora Blog ITIL

It is hard to measure CSF but the associated KPIs can be (should be) measured. It is also worth mentioning that we shouldn’t be over ambitious and lay down multiple KPIs to each CSF. What I have seen is, if a CSF has between 1 to 3 KPIs, it is easier to manage, measure and cope up with the changes associated with them.

Lesser the better! Start with less KPIs, improve and let them mature and then move on the newer ones!

Once you achieve the right balance of desired KPIs (relevant to CSFs), we should also look at if they fulfill the SMART criteria. Every KPI should be SMART so end of the day you get to measure them effectively and hopefully use it to produce “right” report to your customers or business.


Having SMART KPIs can have their own pros and cons, which I will cover in my subsequent blog.
Stay tuned…


Meanwhile, please contribute your thoughts around CSF and KPIs in the comment section below.