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I have created a RACI Matrix for the incident management process in our organization. In some of the activities, the individual is assigned multiple roles for an activity. For example,

R,C,I

C,I

However, it was pointed out that at a given time, the maximum number of combinations that can exist within a cell is two - i.e. "R & A", and any other letter should appear alone.

Which do you think is correct?

3 Answers 3

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It's less of a maximum number of combinations, but which combinations make sense. Not all combinations make sense. For example, in a traditional RACI matrix, what does it mean for someone to be responsible and informed? Shouldn't a person be considered informed of progress if they do the task?

A few specific cases:

  • A person who is Responsible for doing the work isn't inherently Accountable, but these roles aren't mutually exclusive.
  • A person who is Accountable for ensuring the correct completion of the work isn't inherently Responsible.
  • Someone who is Responsible or Accountable is inherently Informed of the progress and completion status of the work.
  • Someone who is Responsible or Accountable isn't necessarily Consulted for their subject matter expertise in doing the work, but these aren't necessarily mutually exclusive roles.

Given this, I can see it possible for a person to be Responsible for doing the work, Accountable for the correct completion of the work, and Consulted for subject matter expertise by other people doing the work. That is a case where a single individual could have three roles in a RACI matrix.

It is also important to make sure that there is only one single Accountable party. Once one person or role has been identified as Accountable, no other person can be identified as Accountable for that task or effort.

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Standard RACI Diagrams Require a Singular Accountable Party

In the role assignments defined for a standard RACI diagram, the Accountable role must be singular. Responsible role should be singular, or be reduced to the minimum practical. In particular:

  1. There must be only one accountable [role] specified for each task or deliverable.

  2. There is at least one role with a participation type of responsible, although others can be delegated to assist in the work required[.]

Consulted and Informed roles can, and are often expected to, have more than one party assigned to them at any reasonable level of granularity. In contrast, Accountable and Responsible are really intended to be singular roles in a fully-decomposed matrix, although it's only explicitly required for Accountable.

Consider RASCI When There are Too Many "Responsible" Roles

In addition, while the Responsible role is not strictly required to be singular in a standard RACI matrix, listing too many Responsible parties for a given activity likely reflects a lack of sufficiently-granular decomposition for the tasks in the matrix. In that case, RASCI may be an option to reduce the number of Responsible roles, and prevents reliance on implicit delegation or collaboration when assigning multiple Responsible parties.

RASCI explicitly calls out Support roles assisting those Responsible. This reduces the number of parties listed as Responsible once the task has been properly decomposed, and clarifies ownership of primary vs. secondary roles and responsibilities more clearly when many task performers are involved in completing the work.

Other Alternatives to RACI

Other similar alternatives to RACI may allow for additional roles and collaborators. In general, though, while most diagram types and roles allow for some level of delegation and collaboration, if you find more than one person in an Accountable-like role you probably haven't decomposed the line items sufficiently.

Don't Neglect Decomposition

Whichever matrix you ultimately select, if you find more than one party in an Accountable role or too many Responsible parties then you should treat it like a user story epic and try to decompose it using similar techniques. Continue decomposing until you have a single role that is expected to provide budgetary authority, approval of deliverables, or ultimately answer for the success or failure of the activity. That is the Accountable role in RACI, and generally has clear parallels with different roles names in other matrices, or has the Accountable role's key responsibilities split among other named roles (e.g. Driver and Approver) in alternatives such as DACI.

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As Todd indicated in his answer, a very strict rule using RACI is that only one role/entity/individual can be "accountable" for any given piece of work, task, or deliverable. The use of other RAM codes may not have that strict rule because, in a few of them, there is no distinction between responsible and accountable. In fact, many in the PM field find that distinction silly and use other RAM codes accordingly. I personally use PARIS (Primary, Approver, Reviewer, Informed, and Secondary) (this differs from the PARIS in Todd's link) and I find that to be the most helpful construct to assign role boundaries.

So besides that strict rule using RACI, there are no rules except that you want to create a clear, concise, understandable role boundary that resonates with your team and stakeholders, which is the intent of this particular PM tool. So if your coding causes confusion, then it's broken. If it is clear to the information consumers, then it works.

Also, create your own coding construct. Why? Why not? If you create a coding structure that resonates with your stakeholders, use it. If it helps folks to understand who is doing what to whom, then you've met the mission of the RAM.

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