Defining roles with RASCI
To close this series of articles about the relationship between product management and the other areas of the company I’ll present a tool to help define the roles and responsibilities of each person involved in the product development tasks.
These teams need to work closely together for the success of the products they develop and manage. However, this proximity may present a lot of overlap between areas and often raises some questions such as: “Who is responsible for this task?”, “Whom do I need to consult before moving this other task forward?” and “Who needs to be with me so I’ll be able to complete this other task successfully?” Often, these situations become jump balls: one thinks she is responsible for a particular task and the other person thinks the same. Or worse, one thinks the other is responsible, and that other thinks the first one was, and no one does anything.
To solve this kind of situation, there is a very useful tool called RASCI Responsibility Matrix. RASCI is an abbreviation of the first letters of the possible roles that a person, area, or role may play in a task:
- Responsible: is the person responsible for performing the task, ie who has to lead the effort to plan, do and complete the task. There can be no more than one task owner. We must avoid the “everybody’s business is nobody’s business” situation.
- Accountable: is the person who is responsible for the task, has the power to delegate the task to be done to the person responsible, and has control over the resources to do the task. Responsible and accountable can be the same person. It is also true that there can be no more than one accountable per task. If responsible and accountable are two different people, accountable can be seen as the sponsor.
- Support: are the people or teams that work together and under the coordination of the responsible person for performing the task.
- Consulted: are the people or teams who do not participate in the task execution but who need to be consulted before or while the task is being performed, as they can provide relevant inputs to its execution. Consulted can be seen as advisors.
- Informed: are the people or teams who do not participate in the task execution, nor need to be consulted before or while the task is being performed, but who need to be informed when the task is completed.
The following is an example of a RASCI matrix of responsibility between engineering, UX, product marketing, and product management that we use at Locaweb:
How to use?
The first step is to build the responsibility matrix. My recommendation is to fill it out with all the people involved in a room, so you can discuss if the division of responsibility makes sense to everyone and if you have any tasks missing. Most likely, some jump balls will emerge, but this is a great opportunity to discuss them and define who is responsible.
Then you should try doing the tasks following the responsibility matrix for a while, like one or two months. Then it is important to look back to see if everything is all right or if any adjustments are needed.
Thereafter, the use becomes automatic and people no longer need to refer to the responsibility matrix. Every 12 to 18 months, or when any doubt arises, or even when a new task arises, you should revisit it.
Okay, everyone knows their role and their responsibilities. Now it’s execution time! (=
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