In a large project, there may be many people that have some role in the creation and approval of project deliverables. Sometimes it is straightforward, such as one person writing a document and one person approving it. In other cases, there may be many people who have a hand in the creation and others that need to have varying levels of approval. For complicated scenarios involving many people, it can be helpful to have a Responsibility Matrix. This helps set expectations and ensures people know what is expected from them.
On the matrix, the different people (or roles) appear as columns, with the specific deliverables in question listed as rows. Then, use the intersecting points to describe each person's responsibility for each deliverable. A simple matrix is shown, followed by suggested responsibility categories.
- R – Responsible. The person assigned to do the work
- A – Accountable. The person who makes the final decision and has ultimate ownership
- C – Consulted. The person who must be consulted before a decision or action is taken
- I – Informed. The person who must be informed that a decision or action has been taken
In the table above, the Project Charter is created by the project manager; approved by the Country Director, the Steering Committee is consulted, and the Project Team is informed.
The purpose of the matrix is to clarify and gain agreement on who does what, and define the columns with as much detail as makes sense. For instance, in the above example, the 'project team' could have been broken into specific people or the person responsible for creating the Program Approach could have been broken out into a separate column. After the matrix is completed, it should be circulated for approval. If it is created as a part of the Planning Phase and it should be circulated as a separate document.
The ability to gain clarity is vital for the matrix to be effective. It must reflect people's expectations and responsibilities. For instance, if the Country Director delegated the approval of Project Charter to the Steering Committee, that fact should be represented on the matrix for all to see and approve. On the other hand, if the Country Director agrees that he will approve the Program Approach, then, in fact, his approval is required, not that of a subordinate that was delegated the responsibility.
The matrix should be used to define the level of responsibility for critical actions, especially those that require an approval and review by the key stakeholder in a project. It is not necessary to use this matrix for all project activities since it will be a duplication of efforts as that information is captured in the project schedule.
The matrix should be distributed by all people or groups involved, especially if they have responsibilities to create or approve a project document, failure to do that will result in delays that will impact the project schedule.