Responsibility Assignment Matrix Purpose

Projects can involve large numbers of people often from different departments, functions and divisions of the business. The project manager is accountable for the project but this does not mean they are solely responsible for all the work involved. A Responsibility Matrix is used to define who in the organisation is responsible for individual work elements and deliverables. By forming a matrix  with the work breakdown structure and the organisational breakdown structure, responsibilities can be assigned to lower level tasks. Each task is assigned a WBS and OBS code, the department responsible, the person responsible, and the scope of work required.

EXAMPLE OF A RESPONSIBILITY ASSIGNMENT MATRIX (RAM)
(RACI CHART)

R – Responsible

A – Accountable

C – Consult

I – Inform

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A Responsibility Assignment Matrix (RAM), also known as RACI 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. RACI is an acronym derived from the four key responsibilities most typically used:

Responsible
Those who do the work to achieve the task. There is typically one role with a participation type of Responsible, although others can be delegated to assist in the work required.
Accountable
Sometimes also knows as Approver or final Approving authority. This is the one ultimately accountable for the correct and thorough completion of the deliverable or task, and the one to whom Responsible is accountable. In other words, an Accountable must sign off (Approve) on work that a Responsible provides. There must be only one Accountable specified for each task or deliverable.
Consulted
Those whose opinions are sought; 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.

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).

RAM Definition

A grid that shows the project resources assigned to each work package.

PMBOK® Guide

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.

Furthermore, there is a distinction between a role and individually identified persons: a role is a descriptor of an associated set of tasks, which may be performed by many persons, and one person can perform many roles.

For example, an organisation may have 10 persons 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.

On larger projects, RAMs can be developed at various levels. For example, a high-level RAM can define which a project group or unit is responsible for major phases of the project, while lower level RAMs are used within the group to designate roles, responsibilities and levels of authority for specific activities.

RACI Definition

A common type of RAM that uses responsible, accountable, consult and inform statuses to define the involvement of stakeholders in project activities.

PMBOK® Guide

The matrix format shows all activities associated with one person and all people associated with one activity. This also ensures that there is only one person accountable for any one task to avoid confusion.

The PMBOK® Guide also states that one example of a RAM is the RACI chart, showing the work to be done in the left column as activities. The assigned resources can be shown as individual or groups. The RACI is just one type of RAM; the project manager can select other options such as "lead" and "resource" designation or others as appropriate for the project. The RACI is particularly important when the team consists of internal and external resources to ensure clear divisions of roles and expectations.

It is recommended that the project manager involves team members when developing the responsibility assignment matrix. While the PM can develop an initial, rough draft, it is impossible for him or her to know exactly how tasks should be performed in each area of expertise. Involving the team therefore not only leads to a more precise matrix, but in addition the team members will also feel greater ownership of assignments, leading to greater commitment and participation.

PMP® Exam Sample Questions

Test your understanding of the RAM with this sample question from the PMP® Exam Simulator:

  • Which type of tool will you use to depict the relationship between work to be done and project team members?

    A) Matrix-based
    B) Hierarchical
    C) Text-oriented
    D) Gantt chart

  • Correct Answer: A) Matrix-based.

    Explanation: A responsibility assignment matrix (RAM) is a grid that shows the project resources assigned to each work package.

    Reference: PMBOK Guide 5th Edition, page 262

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