A Responsibility Assignment Matrix (RAM), also known as RACI matrix or Linear Responsibility Chart (LRC), describes the participation by various roles in completing tasks or deliverables for a project or business process.
It is especially useful in clarifying roles and responsibilities in cross-functional/departmental projects and processes. RACI is an acronym derived from the four key responsibilities most typically used:
- Those who do the work to achieve the task. There is typically one role with a participation type of Responsible, although others can be delegated to assist in the work required.
- Sometimes also knows as Approver or final Approving authority. This is the one ultimately accountable for the correct and thorough completion of the deliverable or task, and the one to whom Responsible is accountable. In other words, an Accountable must sign off (Approve) on work that a Responsible provides. There must be only one Accountable specified for each task or deliverable.
- Those whose opinions are sought; and with whom there is two-way communication.
- Those who are kept up-to-date on progress, often only on completion of the task or deliverable; and with whom there is just one-way communication.
Very often the role that is Accountable for a task or deliverable may also be Responsible for completing it (indicated on the matrix by the task or deliverable having a role Accountable for it, but no role Responsible for its completion, i.e. it is implied).
A grid that shows the project resources assigned to each work package.PMBOK® Guide
Outside of this exception, it is generally recommended that each role in the project or process for each task receive, at most, just one of the participation types. Where more than one participation type is shown, this generally implies that participation has not yet been fully resolved, which can impede the value of this technique in clarifying the participation of each role on each task.
Furthermore, there is a distinction between a role and individually identified persons: a role is a descriptor of an associated set of tasks, which may be performed by many persons, and one person can perform many roles.
For example, an organisation may have 10 persons who can perform the role of project manager, although traditionally each project only has one project manager at any one time; and a person who is able to perform the role of project manager may also be able to perform the role of business analyst and tester.
On larger projects, RAMs can be developed at various levels. For example, a high-level RAM can define which a project group or unit is responsible for major phases of the project, while lower level RAMs are used within the group to designate roles, responsibilities and levels of authority for specific activities.
A common type of RAM that uses responsible, accountable, consult and inform statuses to define the involvement of stakeholders in project activities.PMBOK® Guide
The matrix format shows all activities associated with one person and all people associated with one activity. This also ensures that there is only one person accountable for any one task to avoid confusion.
The PMBOK® Guide also states that one example of a RAM is the RACI chart, showing the work to be done in the left column as activities. The assigned resources can be shown as individual or groups. The RACI is just one type of RAM; the project manager can select other options such as "lead" and "resource" designation or others as appropriate for the project. The RACI is particularly important when the team consists of internal and external resources to ensure clear divisions of roles and expectations.
It is recommended that the project manager involves team members when developing the responsibility assignment matrix. While the PM can develop an initial, rough draft, it is impossible for him or her to know exactly how tasks should be performed in each area of expertise. Involving the team therefore not only leads to a more precise matrix, but in addition the team members will also feel greater ownership of assignments, leading to greater commitment and participation.
PMP® Exam Sample Questions
Test your understanding of the RAM with this sample question from the PMP® Exam Simulator:
Which type of tool will you use to depict the relationship between work to be done and project team members?
D) Gantt chart
Correct Answer: A) Matrix-based.
Explanation: A responsibility assignment matrix (RAM) is a grid that shows the project resources assigned to each work package.
Reference: PMBOK Guide 5th Edition, page 262
Project managers like to use a Responsibility Assignment Matrix (RAM) to define the roles of the various project team members. Despite the straightforward nature of the information included in the RAM, getting everyone to agree on people’s roles can be time-consuming. The following steps can help you get people’s input and approval with the least time and effort:
Identify all people who’ll participate in or support your project.
Develop a complete list of deliverables for your project.
Discuss with all team members how they’ll each support the work to produce the different project deliverables.
For each of their assignments, discuss the level of their responsibility and authority, as well as the specific work they’ll perform. Also discuss with them any involvement that others will have on their activities. If specific people haven’t yet been identified for certain activities, consult with people who have done those types of activities before.
Prepare an initial draft of your RAM.
Draw the table for your chart, and enter your project’s deliverables in the left-hand column and the people who will support the activities in the first row. In the cells formed by the intersection of each row and column, enter the roles that each person will have (based on the discussions you have with your team members in Step 3).
Have the people whom you consulted in Step 3 review and approve your draft chart.
If people agree with the chart, ask them to indicate their agreement in writing. If they express concerns about some aspects, ask them to note their concerns in a memo or an e-mail.
If some of your team members don’t approve the draft chart, revise the chart to address their concerns and ask all people who gave input to review and approve the revised chart.
If you make any changes to the draft RAM, have all your team members review and approve the revised chart, especially if they already approved the prior version.
Go back to Step 5 and continue the process until everyone you consulted in Step 3 approves the chart.
For complex projects, the RAM can be quite large. And keeping the chart current and consulting throughout the project with all the people identified can be time-consuming. However, having a chart with incorrect information can result in duplicated efforts and overlooked activities.
Follow these suggestions to keep your RAM accurate and current throughout the project.
Develop a hierarchy of charts: Including 50 or more activities on the same RAM can be cumbersome, so consider developing a series of nested charts for larger projects (also known as a hierarchy of charts). Prepare a high-level chart that identifies responsibilities for higher-level components in your Work Breakdown Structure (such as project phases and major deliverables), and then develop separate charts that detail responsibilities for lower-level deliverables and work packages.
Get input from everyone involved: Involve the entire team when developing your chart. As the project manager, you don’t know exactly how people should perform tasks in their areas of specialty, so you need to ask them. And, even if you do know, people have a greater commitment to a plan when they participate in developing it.
Put your RAM in writing: You may think you can save time by not putting your RAM in writing. However, putting the chart in writing is essential for two reasons:
You can see possible problems in your project that you may have overlooked if you were considering pieces of information separately.
You ensure that people have a common understanding of their roles and relationships.