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Efficient Responsibilities Assignment with RACI Matrix

The clever word-combination “responsibility assignment” is often mentioned, but how many people know how to apply it and who really benefits from it? A closer look brings us to the conclusion that it happens essentially in private companies.

It is often followed by different smart words like matrix and model. I will try to explain the readers what it is and what it is served with. Someone might have had luck to work in a team where everyone knows their duties and responsibilities, and we can’t but be happy for them. But I’m convinced that few have responsibilities assigned ideally. And such people will find this article useful.

So, what is an RACI matrix? This abbreviation consists of four specific roles:

  • Responsible (R) – directly responsible for work performance
  • Accountable (A) – this role can be performed only by one person for one task
  • Consulted (C) – one or a group of employees consulting in the task and whose opinion is to be taken into account
  • Informed (I) – employees informed about the performance of a specific task.

There are also two extensions of the model.

RACI-VS, with two additional roles:

  • Verifies (V) – one or a group of employees verifying that the result meets previously set criteria
  • Signs off (S) – sign off the project (task) to the customer. This role can be combined with the Accountable one.

The RASCI variation of the model adds a new role:
Supportive (S) – provides additional resources for work such as product implementation support.

On the one hand, there are a lot of letters and little sense, and on the other, I would like to explain the RACI matrix with an example.

Director Service ManagementService Level ManagerProblem ManagerSecurity ManagerProcurement Manager
Activity 1ARCIIC
Activity 2ARCCC
Activity 3IARIC
Activity 4IARI
Activity 5IIACI

 

You don’t have to be a Cap to understand that the top of the table shows functional roles responsible for this or that task or taking part in decision making. Column Activity 1-5 lists the functions performed by the above roles.

To understand the principle of the tabulation and use of the table in real life (projects), it is recommended to pay attention to the following matrix building procedure:

  • list required activities/processes in the task (project)
  • define and list functional roles (people interested in or in any way touched by the task)
  • call a meeting and assign RACI codes (letters proper) to specific roles and define the responsibilities
  • estimating misalignment (e.g. too many or no responsible)
  • describe a table and get feedback
  • monitor the performance of assigned roles.

I admit that some will find it difficult to associate Roman letters designating the functions. Nevertheless, I wouldn’t recommend substituting them with Cyrillic ones to avoid confusion and make it difficult to put two and two together.

And finally, with the RACI developed, it won’t hurt to analyze the results.

Functional roles can be analyzed by answering the following questions:

  • Numerous Аs — Are the responsibilities assigned correctly? Are there any bottle necks?
  • Numerous Rs — Aren’t there too many responsibilities assigned to one role?
  • No empty cells in the table – Should this role be really used for this number of tasks?

Also, do not forget to analyze the activities:

  • More than one А — Only one role should be Accountable
  • No Аs — An Accountable should be found
  • No or more than one R – There should be a Responsible but the responsibility should not be assigned too widely – the task risks to be unperformed
  • Too many Сs — Do we need consulting with such a big number of roles and will it be efficient?
  • No Сs and Is — Do we have correct communications?

Here, I would like to stop not to drive the readers mad with boredom. It is for you to judge the efficiency and applicability of such assignment of responsibilities. Nobody knows whether it will work in post-soviet environment. But working with foreign customers, you will not only find RACI matrix useful but also helpful in understanding the project activities and people that perform them. And the majority of customers will want to know clearly who is responsible for tasks set.

I would also like to mention that RACI matrix is in no way an instrument for finding the scapegoat, at least because those who have agreed to spend their time to build it should by default understand its aim and purpose.

P.S. It would be interesting to read your comments on the applicability of this responsibilities assignment tool and your personal experience.

I would also like to give a short example of the use of this model for a specific task.

Accept that we have an aviation company planning to implement an online check-in system on its web-site. Global activities within this task will include: assessment of system requirements, designing the solution, development, implementation, production and optimization.

Then functional roles are defined, for this task the following options are possible: internal service provider(customer’s IT team) or external service provider if the first is unavailable; ISP – hosting company; the aviation company’s business unit (representing the customer); financial unit (accounting team); service manager (depending on the company size, can be part of internal IT team); developer’s team (depending on the size of the organization can be part of internal IT team).

Let’s try to assign RACI codes according to roles and activities performed (of course this process involves all parties).

IT DeptISPBusiness DeptAccounting DeptService ManagerDevelopers
RequirementsRICCAI
DesignCCIIARC
DevelopmentCIIICAR
ImplementationARRCI CC
ProductionARRIIII
OptimizationRCCCAR

 

This is how roles and functions will be assigned for this task. It should be mentioned right away that for this and any other project, the matrix can look differently depending on specific requirements of different companies. I hope this example will give the readers a better understanding of the applicability of the RACI matrix.

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