The responsibility assignment matrix, sometimes also referred to as the RACI matrix, is a commonly used tool for identifying the degree of responsibility and involvement of everyone attached to a certain project. It can be very useful when trying to figure out where everyone stands in the current hierarchy, especially if the project spans across multiple departments or otherwise involves people from multiple areas of the organization.
While applying the RACI matrix is not very complicated, there are some important rules that you need to be aware of, and knowing how to use them make all the difference in how successful your application of the matrix is.
1. Have a clear internal structure
In order to take full advantage of what the RACI matrix has to offer, it’s important to be clear about the way your own organization’s internal structure works. There has to be a clear distinction between different levels in the hierarchy, and this structure has to be obvious to anyone working within the organization as well.
More importantly, it should be easy for an outside observer to determine the current structure of your organization at a glance, as this will make it much easier to get external assistance if your research indicates that you have to make changes to the leadership structure.
2. Have an efficient system for delegating tasks
It’s also a good idea to ensure that you have an adequate system in place for delegating tasks from one level of the hierarchy to another, especially when the organization is being overloaded with multiple different tasks on several fronts. How exactly you’re going to do that depends entirely on your own company of course, and there will be lots of intricate differences from one organization to the next.
But the important point is, as soon as you uncover the need to offload a certain portion of the work to another department or individual, there should be a clearly defined system in place for that.
3. Have the capability to change assignments
This is similar to the above point, but not quite the same. It’s important to have a good system in place that allows you to easily change assignments from one person to another, and not necessarily within the same department. When you’ve identified problems with the use of the RACI matrix, it will be much easier to implement a solution if it involves switching some tasks around.
4. Repeat the study with an appropriate frequency
A single run of a study involving a RACI matrix can give you a lot of information, but it may become outdated very quickly. It’s important to be aware of the optimal frequency for repeating these studies in your own organization, and have an established procedure in place for those repetitions. If you can make the studies an integral part of your regular workflow, this will usually address the problem perfectly, but even if you have to do it on a one-time basis every time, that should still be feasible for most organizations.
5. Identify the need for a different control structure
Last but not least, sometimes your research might indicate the need to completely transform some parts of your leadership structure, and it’s a good idea to be prepared for that well in advance. As you’re probably guessing, a change of this type is never an easy ordeal, and things can get even more complicated when you have to implement it in an organization with an already established structure that has been operating for a while.
A little preparation can go a long way here, and there are many things you can do to ensure that you’re ready to face a challenge like this with a good deal of efficiency.