Saturday, 12 December 2009

RACI/RAM charts - do you need them?

You'll be forgiven for not knowing about these charts as we don't cover them on the general training course but we do cover them in our book. They can give a part answer to some of the problems that beset project teams particularly if people always seem to be countermanding decisions. RACI stands for Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, and Informed. It is a matrix chart that defines people's responsibilities across project deliverables. RAM stands for Responsibility Assignment Matrix and some people prefer to use this term. So far, so good.

Do you recognise any of these problems?
  • 'My boss always overrules my decisions whenever she wants'
  • 'The approval process for even the simplest item takes so long today'
  • 'It seems everyone is putting together a spreadsheet on the same data'
  • 'Things are always slipping through the cracks'
  • 'I have the responsibility, but not the authority to get the job done'

Royston Morgan: www.projectsmart.co.uk

If any of these fit your workload, perhaps you might consider doing a matrix chart. You need to list the roles of your extended team across the top and then put deliverables/work tasks down the side. In the spaces agree with your team who is Responsible, Accountable, to be Consulted, and to be Informed. You write R,A,C or I in the space, or in fact leave the space blank if the person doesn't have to figure in the task. This gives you a blueprint of who should call the tune as the people Accountable should have the final decision. And there should be only one person Accountable in the chart for a task. The person Responsible for the task actually carries out the work or harnesses a team effort to achieve the task to the satisfaction of the Accountable person. When the same person is Responsible and Accountable – as might happen in our form of iMedia projects – then you can decide whether to put both initials in the box or allow A to imply both because there is no one else signified as Responsible.

This type of chart will clarify whose role is responsible for which task, and who is accountable for the final decision. This helps codify authority by implication. Authority to make decisions or allocate budgets can play a big part in potential conflict in projects – don't we just know. Our book, Managing Interactive Media page 84, gives a case study of a RACI chart for an e-commerce project, in case you have a copy.

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