A Responsibility Assignment Matrix (RAM) is sometimes called a RACI Chart, or Responsibility Matrix.
There are several avoidable excuses in the project management world, such as:
- I didn’t think I was supposed to be doing that!
- I thought (name other employee here) was doing that!
- But the contractor was responsible for that!
The Responsibility Assignment Matrix will prevent this from happening on your project!
Responsibility Assignment Matrix Definition
The Association for Project Management (APM) definition is as follows:
A diagram or chart showing assigned responsibilities for elements of work. It is created by combining the work breakdown structure (WBS) with the organisational breakdown structure (OBS).
The APM (BoK 6th edition) further states that a RAM is used to assign the work packages to the people responsible for creating the project’s output.
So when you have a list of those involved in the project (the OBS) and the tasks in the project (the WBS) you can create your matrix!
Check what your organisation calls it, and use the same terminology.
A Responsibility Assignment Matrix could be at department and work-package level for larger projects, or individual people and task level for smaller projects.
Responsibility Assignment Matrix
A RACI chart is a matrix of the project tasks (from the WBS) against the people in the project (from the OBS). It ensures that everybody knows what they are expected to deliver, by giving every task has an accountable task owner.
RACI stands for;
- Responsible – I’m involved with this task
- Accountable – I’m accountable (own) this task
- Consult – Consult me before you do anything
- Inform – Inform me of your intentions and progress
Other definitions can be found in text books: Primary and Secondary ownership, Owner and Support, RASCI, etc.
Interestingly, there is some debate about the difference between “Accountable” and “Responsible” and an indication that originally the “A” was for Approve which does make some sense. Personally, I advocate the use of Accountable for one, and only one person on each task.
Creating a Responsibility Matrix
There are several tools that you can use to create these matrices. It really depends on the application that you have your task list available in. A list of tasks in Microsoft Project can be copied and pasted into other applications.
- A WORD Table could be used. However you may be limited to the width of your paper, so this may be a problem for a large project.
- An EXCEL Spreadsheet is a good choice, however care must be taken on setting up a ‘Print Area’ to share the document. (Print to pdf could be used)
Consider how you are going to share the matrix with the project team and other stakeholders when you create it.
One of the best ways to populate the matrix is at a project team meeting, asking for staff to state their involvement on a task by task basis. this will create a dialogue around each task – the start of project communication.
Responsibilities in Microsoft Project
Although you can assign resources to tasks in Microsoft Project, you cannot define their roles in the RACI type format.
Personally, I encourage people to assign the accountable owner first, so that the first name on the Gantt chart is the accountable task owner.
I wrote about assignments in Microsoft Project in a previous blog.
Knowing that every task has an owner is vital if the project is to be completed on time. The Responsibility Assignment Matrix is the tool to use in order to make sure that task ownership is clear.