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News Eagle - Hawley, PA
  • Eric P. Bloom: Value of individual and team 'critical success factors'

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  • Continuing on the LEAPFROG Teambuilding Process, this week’s column is “P - Provide Individual and Team Critical Success Factors.” Here is a quick recap, if you haven’t seen weeks one, two and three, they were:
    L - Layout the organizational structure and staff roles and responsibilities.
    E - Establish relationships and trust among teammates.
    A - Assemble goals, objectives and values.
    As an introduction to this week’s topic, critical success factors (CSFs) are the criteria used by the project stakeholders to judge its success or failure. One way to look at CSFs is like the test questions asked in a college final exam. That is to say, the student may have a wide understanding of the class materials, but he/she is only being judged on his/her knowledge related to the specific questions on the exam. In college, it is considered cheating if you get the exam questions prior to the examination date. In the workplace, however, knowing exactly how you will be judged prior to the beginning of your project is good business.
    From a project perspective, knowing your CSFs will help you:
    1. Build your project plan and deliverables based on those criteria.
    Understanding how your project will be judged allows you to build your project plan and deliverables based on the specified success criteria. At first glance, this may seem self-serving, because it is self-serving. It is also, however, the best possible course of direction for the project because, by definition, CSFs are the things most important to the project stakeholders. Therefore, guiding the project’s outcome toward the CSFs simultaneously directs it toward relying on the project’s success.
    2. Direct resources to the most important deliverables.
    With your deliverables defined and your people in place, knowing the project’s CSFs allows you to prioritize your team’s most important activities. It also provides insight into where your personal time, attention, and efforts should be directed.
    3. Stay focused.
    With the project underway, as time passes, you and your team dig into the day-to-day tasks; it’s easy to accidently stray from the project’s main purpose. Keeping the CSFs in mind can help you stay the course. This is the case because at project end, each member on the team knows specifically how they will be judged.
    From a staffing and talent management perspective, CSFs will help you:
    1. Hire the right people.
    Knowing the projects CSFs allows you, as the project manager, to define the ideal candidates needed for your team. As an example, if your goal is to build a website and one of the CSFs is exceptional user experience, then you know you must hire a top notch web designer and skilled graphic artist. Conversely, if the user experience was not considered important and processing speed was the primary objective, then you would know to spend more money on experienced software developers and money on graphic artists.
    Page 2 of 2 - 2. Define specific job performance criteria to each team member.
    As the team leader, knowing the project’s overall CSFs allows you to define and communicate specific performance measurements to each team member is consistent with the project’s overall objectives. This individual/project consistency helps drive project success because of the forced alignment of stakeholder needs, project CSFs, and team member performance criteria.
    3. Define training needs.
    Performing a gap analysis between your team’s current skills and the skills needed to meet your project’s CSFs provides insights into your teams training needs. For example, if your project requires a well written training manual and you don’t have the option to hire additional staff, logic would dictate that you must train one of your staff members on instructional design.
    4. Enhance teamwork through common purpose.
    In a team related endeavor, very often the goals of each individual can only be realized through the help of his/her fellow team members. If you, as the project manager, make these co-dependences clear to your team, it gives them a common purpose which has the real potential, through peer pressure and a want to not let their teammates down, to dramatically enhance each individual’s performance. This is truly an example of the old adage that the total can be greater than the sum of its parts.
    The primary advice and takeaways from today’s column is to know that:
    Critical success factors (CSFs) can be of great value to your project as a whole and the specific team members within it.
    Consistency of stakeholder needs, project CSFs, and team member performance criteria helps drive project success because everyone’s needs and objectives are aligned.
    Until next time, work hard, work smart, manage well and continue to build your professional brand.
    Eric P. Bloom is the president and founder of Manager Mechanics LLC, a management training company specializing in information technology leadership and is the governing organization of the ITMLP and ITMLE certifications. He is also a keynote speaker, nationally syndicated columnist, and author of the books “The CIO’s Guide to Staff Needs, Growth, and Productivity,” “Your IT Career: Get Noticed, Get Promoted, and Build Your Professional Brand” and “52 Great Management Tips.” Contact him at eric@ManagerMechanics.com, follow him on Twitter at @EricPBloom and @MgrMechanics or visit www.ManagerMechanics.com.
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