One of the most difficult aspects of implementation – whether of a new structure, new roles or a new process – is understanding who is responsible for what under the new model. For staff, knowing who to go to for approval, sign-off or decisions is vital to their ability to do their jobs on a day-to-day basis – as is knowing how to escalate issues appropriately. More broadly, staff need to understand their own role and the activities to which they are responsible for contributing, as well as who they need to interact or connect with in order to get things done. When roles or teams change, these lines of responsibility can become blurred or disappear entirely.
This is where a responsibilities matrix can be your best friend. At Fyusion, we use the RACI matrix on a wide range of projects to support implementation with great success.
The RACI method is quite straightforward; for each decision, action or deliverable, a RACI chart steps out specifically who is:
Responsible: Those who do the work to achieve the task.
Accountable: The role that is answerable for the correct and thorough completion of the deliverable or task.
Consulted: Those whose opinions are sought, typically subject matter experts, and with whom there is two-way communication.
Informed: 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.
For every task, it is crucial that both an “R” and an “A” are allocated. In some (rare) cases, there may not be a need to consult or inform anybody, but there will always be a need for somebody to be accountable for the output, and for somebody to take responsibility for actually completing the task. Ideally, only one role should be shown as Accountable for each task, and only one as Responsible – shared responsibility can muddy the waters, though it is occasionally necessary. On the other hand, it is quite common for multiple stakeholders to be shown as Consulted or Informed; in many processes, broad consultation is highly desirable.
Below is an example of a RACI matrix for the development of a Program.
The RACI chart provides a quick, snapshot-style reference for all staff. It can be consulted at any time, by anyone who is new or unsure about relative responsibilities in a particular process. RACI charts can be used as part of implementation ‘toolkits’ to support new teams or new leaders, and to accompany process maps to make the maps more readable and usable by staff.
It is important that RACI charts are based on evidence and careful consideration – responsibilities should never be distributed arbitrarily. A poorly designed RACI matrix will undoubtedly do more harm than good. However, when done right, this simple tool can save you, your team and your organisation a great deal of worry and can help to keep things running smoothly during times of change.