Critical success factors affecting the quality of construction

By Priya Chetty on January 30, 2020

This article aims to identify the critical success factors and Potential Pitfalls that affect the quality of building construction projects. Quality within the construction industry is a major issue that has attracted the attention of many researchers like Jha and Iyer (2006), Pakseresht and Asgari (2012) and Callistus et al. (2014). In order to ensure successful completion of a construction project, a hierarchical model is important. This model would ensure building quality performance in projects by avoiding potential pitfalls.

The most significant facets of the model are:

  • characteristics of the project,
  • arrangements and alignments of the contracts,
  • members participating in a project and,
  • mechanisms adopted for interactions/communications. 

Time, budget and return on investment

Researching upon critical success factors for quality in construction projects in Brunei region, Salleh (2009) categorized success factors for building quality performance for projects into three:

  1. meeting time schedules:
  2. meeting budget constraints and,
  3. ensuring a return on investment.

These three parameters are applicable for primarily 3 stakeholders of a construction project namely, proprietor, the designer and the contractors. These factors once fulfilled will not only result in delighting the clients but will also ensure quality performance. Furthermore, this will minimize potential pitfalls associated with the project in the long run.

Failure to abide by quality parameters might result in dire consequences which are life-threatening in many circumstances (Jha and Iyer, 2006; Ede, 2010). Thus, to overcome issues arising out of quality failures, it is important to take measures to determine the possible critical success factors. This will assist in the elimination of project pitfalls to a considerable extent. By adhering to critical success factors notified within the project specifications, the project teams would minimize the chances of errors. This will help to meet project object objectives successfully as avowed by Pandit et al. (2015) and Ede (2010).

Technology and non-technology factors

Olusola et al. (2011) explicated that downfall of buildings in the South-Western Nigerian region was an example of potential pitfall of not adhering to quality standards. In this study, the researchers segregated success factors into two categories:

  1. technology-oriented and,
  2. non-technology ones.

The factors covered under technology-oriented were design of the building, faults in designing and usage of inferior quality materials. The other category, i.e. non-technological factors, comprised of corruption intensity and expertise of professionals and stakeholders associated with a construction project.

Importance of critical success factors in the construction industry

Pakseresht and Asgari (2012) in their study on critical success factors in construction projects focused on the importance of the cycle of critical success factors by Fred R. David. The cycle has been presented in the figure below:

The cycle of critical success factors in construction projects
Figure 1: The cycle of critical success factors in construction projects (Source: Pakseresht and Asgari, 2012)

The model clearly postulates that determination of critical success factors needs to be undertaken correctly, in order to ensure effective planning is made for construction projects. The model is quite helpful as it provides for a procedural approach. Furthermore, critical success factors are identified, determined and the process for studying them is also laid down in this approach. All these together support in decision making in the planning phase.

Step 1: Strategic Planning: Based on the strategic planning and evaluation of a project, the success factors are reviewed thus creating a loop.

Step 2: Identify key critical success factors: The experiences from one project along with the analysis of requirements of another project the success factors for the subsequent projects are identified.

Step 3: Criteria for key critical success factors determination: Level criteria for determining critical success factors were defined via an interview with project managers, construction project contracting principles, and library resources. Based on these consultations seven criteria were identified which affect the success of a project i.e.:

  • effective management of the project,
  • employer,
  • the consultant design team,
  • project logistics,
  • project manager,
  • contractor and,
  • global and business environment.

Step 4: Process of studying key critical success factors: Each of the identified factors are based on the seven criteria. This is considered for validity and reliability test and after validation of the relevance of the option, the factor is relevant for the construction industry.

The model is considered to be very useful in the achievement of building quality performance in projects by assisting in the determination of resources required along with identification of associated constraints. The researchers further claimed that this model assists in minimizing everlasting mistakes and thus is effective in controlling potential pitfalls that might adversely affect project performance.

Expertise, experience, communication and control

Callistus et al. (2014) based on the findings of a study undertaken in the Kumasi metropolis in the Ghana region concluded that there is a series of factors that affect the quality performance of a building. These factors were:

  • technical expertise,
  • proficient expertise,
  • resources quality and quantity for task execution,
  • the commitment of the employees,
  • employee expertise and proficiency,
  • aptitude and experience of the project managers,
  • monitoring mechanisms,
  • performance managers’ on-the-site,
  • the capability of the project team,
  • effectiveness of planning,
  • the effectiveness of control,
  • appropriateness of communication,
  • information sharing/transparency and,
  • appropriateness of client discussions.

Potential pitfalls of failing to consider the critical success factors in construction projects

The pitfalls of not determining the critical success factors are severe and thus it is important to determine them. Oseghale et al. (2015) in their study on Nigeria stated that the ultimate pitfall is project failure which may result in the collapse of buildings. It leads to loss of resources and life along with resulting in an economic setback of the region. Some of the critical success factors that have the potentials to curb project failure are:

  • effective designs,
  • perfect and faultless construction,
  • appropriate loading,
  • definite responsibility of designs that approved,
  • compliance with designs that have been approved,
  • effective communications,
  • considering natural disasters while constructing buildings,
  • effective workmanship,
  • appropriate maintenance,
  • adequate funding and,
  • using materials with superior quality.

Critical success factors are imperative, but the need for identifying potential pitfalls is bigger

From the above discussion, it can be clearly understood that the determination of critical success factors is an important component of the construction project to ensure building quality performance. They play an imperative role in overall project success and thus need to be focused upon by the stakeholders of the construction industry. These factors to a larger extent are responsible for ensuring that the projects develop capabilities of overcoming multiple issues associated with them thereby overcoming potential pitfalls. Stakeholders of the construction industry may probably be keen on indulging in sustainable construction through long-run obligations towards quality thus preserving resources and mitigating wastages.

The above discussions, however also bring to light the fact that though there has been a series of research studies on critical success factors related to a construction project but those focusing on potential pitfalls are sparse.


  • Callistus, T. et al. (2014) ‘Factors Affecting Quality Performance of Construction Firms in Ghana: Evidence from Small–Scale Contractors’, Civil and Environmental Research. International Institute for Science, Technology and Education (IISTE), 6(5), pp. 18–23.
  • Ede, A. N. (2010) ‘Building collapse in Nigeria: the trend of casualties the last decade (2000-2010)’, International Journal of Civil & Environmental Engineering, 10(6), pp. 32–36.
  • Jha, K. N. and Iyer, K. C. (2006) ‘Critical factors affecting quality performance in construction projects’, Total Quality Management and Business Excellence, 17(9), pp. 1155–1170. doi: 10.1080/14783360600750444.
  • Olusola, K. O., Ojambati, T. S. and Lawal, A. F. (2011) ‘Technological and non-technological factors responsible for the occurrence of collapse buildings in South-Western Nigeria’, Journal of Emerging Trends in Engineering and Applied Sciences, 2(3), pp. 462–469.
  • Oseghale, G. E., Ikpo, I. J. and Ayaji, O. D. (2015) ‘Causes and effects of building collapse in Lagos state, Nigeria’, Civil and Environmental Research, 7(4), pp. 34–43.
  • Pakseresht, A. and Asgari, G. (2012) ‘Determining the Critical Success Factors in Construction Projects: AHP Approach’, INTERDISCIPLINARY JOURNAL OF CONTEMPORARY RESEARCH IN BUSINESS, 4(8), pp. 383–393.
  • Pandit, D., Yadav, S. and Vallabhbhai, S. (2015) ‘Factors Affecting Efficient Construction Project Design Development: A Perspective from India’, International Journal of Construction Supply Chain Management, 5(2), pp. 52–67.
  • Salleh, R. (2009) Critical Success Factors of Project Management for Brunei Construction Projects: Improving Project Performance. Queensland University of Technology.