Responsibility assignment matrix
A responsibility assignment matrix (RAM), also known as RACI matrix // or ARCI matrix or linear responsibility chart (LRC), describes the participation by various roles in completing tasks or deliverables for a project or business process. It is especially useful in clarifying roles and responsibilities in cross-functional/departmental projects and processes.
Key responsibility roles
- Those who do the work to achieve the task. There is at least one role with a participation type of responsible, although others can be delegated to assist in the work required (see also RASCI below for separately identifying those who participate in a supporting role).
- Accountable (also approver or final approving authority)
- The one ultimately answerable for the correct and thorough completion of the deliverable or task, and the one who delegates the work to those responsible. In other words, an accountable must sign off (approve) on work that responsible provides. There must be only one accountable specified for each task or deliverable.
- Consulted (sometimes counsel)
- Those whose opinions are sought, typically subject matter experts; and with whom there is two-way communication.
- Those who are kept up-to-date on progress, often only on completion of the task or deliverable; and with whom there is just one-way communication.
Very often the role that is accountable for a task or deliverable may also be responsible for completing it (indicated on the matrix by the task or deliverable having a role accountable for it, but no role responsible for its completion, i.e. it is implied). Outside of this exception, it is generally recommended that each role in the project or process for each task receive, at most, just one of the participation types. Where more than one participation type is shown, this generally implies that participation has not yet been fully resolved, which can impede the value of this technique in clarifying the participation of each role on each task.
There is a distinction between a role and individually identified people: a role is a descriptor of an associated set of tasks; may be performed by many people; and one person can perform many roles. For example, an organisation may have ten people who can perform the role of project manager, although traditionally each project only has one project manager at any one time; and a person who is able to perform the role of project manager may also be able to perform the role of business analyst and tester.
Matrix format and Examples
The matrix is typically created with a vertical axis (left-hand column) of tasks (e.g., from a work breakdown structure WBS) or deliverables (e.g., from a product breakdown structure PBS), and a horizontal axis (top row) of roles (e.g., from an organizational chart) – as illustrated in the image of an example responsibility assignment (or RACI) matrix.
Another example from the maintenance and reliability community
There are a number of alternatives to the RACI participation types:
- This is an expanded version of the standard RACI, less frequently known as RASIC, breaking the responsible participation into:
- Those responsible for the task, who ensure that it is done as per the approver
- Resources allocated to responsible. Unlike consulted, who may provide input to the task, support help complete the task.
- This is an expanded version of the standard RACI, with two additional participation types:
- Those who approve the verify decision and authorize the product hand-off. It seems to make sense that the signatory should be the party being accountable for its success.
- This is an expanded version, of the standard RACI, also known as RACIO with one additional participation type.
- Out of the loop (or omitted)
- Designating individuals or groups who are specifically not part of the task. Specifying that a resource does not participate can be as beneficial to a task's completion as specifying those who do participate.
- Another version that has been used to centralize decision making, and clarify who can re-open discussions.
- A single driver of overall project like the person steering a car.
- One or more approvers who make most project decisions, and are responsible if it fails.
- Are the worker-bees who are responsible for deliverables; and with whom there is two-way communication.
- Those who are impacted by the project and are provided status and informed of decisions; and with whom there is one-way communication.
- Another tool used clarify decision roles and thereby improve decision making overall is RAPID®, which was created by and is a registered trademark of Bain & Company.
- The Recommend role typically involves 80 percent of the work in a decision. The recommender gathers relevant input and proposes a course of action—sometimes alternative courses, complete with pros and cons so that the decision maker's choices are as clear, simple and timely as possible.
- The Agree role represents a formal approval of a recommendation. The 'A' and the 'R' should work together to come to a mutually satisfactory proposal to bring forward to the Decider. But not all decisions will need an Agree role, as this is typically reserved for those situations where some form of regulatory or compliance sign-off is required.
- The Perform role defines who is accountable for executing or implementing the decision once it is made. Best-practice companies typically define P's and gather input from them early in the process.
- The Input role provides relevant information and facts so that the Recommender and Decider can assess all the relevant facts to make the right decision. However, the 'I' role is strictly advisory. Recommenders should consider all input, but they don't have to reflect every point of view in the final recommendation.
- The Decide role is for the single person who ultimately is accountable for making the final decision, committing the group to action and ensuring the decision gets implemented.
There are also a number of variations to the meaning of RACI participation types:
RACI (alternative scheme)
- There is an alternative coding, less widely published but used by some practitioners and process mapping software, which modifies the application of the R and A codes of the original scheme. The overall methodology remains the same but this alternative avoids potential confusion of the terms accountable and responsible, which may be understood by management professionals but not always so clearly differentiated by others:
- Those responsible for the performance of the task. There should be exactly one person with this assignment for each task.
- Those who assist completion of the task.
- Those whose opinions are sought; and with whom there is two-way communication.
- Those who are kept up-to-date on progress; and with whom there is one-way communication.
- This alternative is focused only on documenting who has the authority to make which decisions. This can work across all sized work groups.
- Responsible to recommend an answer to the decision.
- Authorized to approve an answer to the decision.
- Those whose opinions are sought; and with whom there is two-way communication.
- Those who are informed after the decision is made; and with whom there is one-way communication.
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