RACI Matrix

I was working on a RACI matrix recently. A RACI matrix is also called a responsibility assignment matrix. It describes the participation by various roles in completing tasks or deliverables for a project.

Typically, a project plan is used to define the tasks and resources in a project.

Project Task

Ideally, tasks should come from the work breakdown structure document. A task defines work to be performed by one or more roles on a team with a start date/time and end date/time. The work may be dependent on other tasks, too. Each role assigned to the task may have different responsibilities to complete the task. You cannot show these differences clearly on a work breakdown structure document or a project plan. Thus, a RACI matrix is used to define the responsibilities.

RACI Matrix Legend

I use a legend to define the RACI Matrix codes. I add a description because I believe that the one word name is insufficient to understand the code.

Code Name Description
R Responsible person who performs an activity or does the work
A Accountable person who is ultimately accountable and has Yes/No/Veto
C Consulted person that needs to feedback and contribute to the activity
I Informed person that needs to know of the decision or action

The primary problem that I have with the RACI Matrix is the confusion over Responsible and Accountable. Most people believe that the role tagged with Responsible is responsible for ensuring that the task work is completed. This understanding is incorrect. I think part of the problem is that Responsible appears before Accountable in RACI. So people think that the first role is the most important.

The role tagged with Accountable is ultimately accountable and has ownership of the work. Some people define Accountable as the decision-maker. The Accountable role has the highest authority for a task. This role can determine whether or not the task should be performed and who is responsible for performing it.

The Responsible role performs the work (and they are accountable for their own work).

Can one person have both the Accountable and the Responsible roles assigned? Yes. However, delegating the responsibility for performing the work assigns the Responsible role to someone else. The delegator remains as Accountable.

The Consulted role is a key stakeholder who should be included in decision or work activity. They must be consulted prior to a decision being made. They are not necessarily assigned responsibility to perform work on the task.

The Informed role needs to know of the decision or action of the work. They may have a dependency on the task to perform tasks that they have responsibility for. Thus, they must be informed of the decision or work activity afterwards.

Why is this Important?

Sometimes several workers are responsible for completing work on a project. How do we determine who is ultimately accountable for completing the work? Either someone performing the work or someone that they report to is going to be held accountable. Someone must be the project leader or work leader. It cannot be all of them if a decision must be made that impacts all of workers on the team. Thus, one person on the team is made accountable while the other team members are made responsible.

So keep in mind the difference between Accountable and Responsible.

User Experience: What is it?

Lately I’ve seen some people use the term “user experience” in conversation, tweets, and blogs in a very generic way. It seems to me that this term is often taken out of context. For example, I see some postings referring to giving users a “happy” or “good” experience when using their web applications. I will provide my understanding of what user experience is.

I believe that user experience describes how closely a user’s expectations are met when interacting with a web application.

  1. The user opens a web application with an expectation of what the web application does. Perhaps the title or subtitles provide an explanation. The user will expect to see something obvious as soon as possible. The user will have a negative experience if they cannot figure out what the web application does. The reverse situation is that the user wants to know if they are in the wrong web application as soon as possible. Their experience is less negative if they can determine this quickly and return to where they came from.
  2. The user will expect some indication as to what to do next if they are confident that they are in the correct web application. The user wants to see actionable items that let him or her know what features are available.
    • Create a new record
    • See new records
    • See records displayed that are immediately relevant
    • Search for specific records by keyword or a filtered view
    • Available help that describes features on the web application
  3. Users expect related record information to be displayed to them without having to specifically search for it. Sometimes this is similar or related search results based on keywords. Other times it is search results that other users clicked on based on a similar keyword search. Users also want to see more white space and less detail in the search results. A short title and one or two sentences should provide sufficient explanation in search results.
  4. Users expect a consistent web application layout. Users will look for titles, controls, hover text, and labels. Users will almost always start looking at the top left corner and read to the right. Then move back to the left side and slightly down. Then across to the right again. They do this a few times until they find what they want or give up.
    • Put the most important details at the top left corner.
    • Keep the main controls close together where users can quickly find them.

These are the key expectations that users have. The users will have a good experience if the web application has these features and capabilities. Of course, users will expect more as they use a web application over time.

Finally, I believe that it is possible to collect information from users to determine what their expectations for a web application are. There is also a lot more detail that can be provided on user experience on each of the points that I made. But these are the key points that I discuss with clients that I work with.