Project Planning


Define Roles and Responsibilities

Ensure everyone knows what they are doing, and what other people are doing.
  • List of resources
    1. List the areas where responsibility needs to be determined.
    2. Allocate roles and responsibilities.
    3. Cross check to ensure there are no overlaps or underlaps.
    4. Identify any other HR issues such as training, recruitment etc.
  • Documented Roles and Responsibilities
  • Resource Management Plan

It cannot be overstated that defining roles and responsibilities is a critical part of the project setup. Less experienced Project Managers tend to gloss over this task and only realise later in the project when things are going wrong, how important it is. Without proper definition, things either slip through the cracks, or there is tension because two people feel they are responsible for the same thing. It becomes even more important when dealing with suppliers. They need to know what is expected, and what is not expected of them.

An analogy is to look at a person starting in a company. If they have a position description, they have a starting point to understand their job, and their authority/accountability level. The position description is part of an organisation chart which shows how the positions and their responsibilities fit together. You need to do the same for a project.

There are a number of techniques that can be used for this exercise. Some are simple and give an adequate result. Some are more complex and give a much more detailed result. Chose the process based on the size of the project.

A technique called RACI is outlined below. While it can be tedious to complete, it does clearly show who does what. RACI stands for:

  • Responsible
  • Accountable
  • Consulted and
  • Information.

Those terms are useful to use in any definition of roles and responsibilities.

Accountable. A single person who is answerable to the project and the company for the task being completed successfully. The buck stops here.

Responsible. The single person who is responsible for getting the work done. They might not do all the work. There may be others involved but they are the ones who manage the work.

Consulted. Carries out work at the direction of the person responsible and receives the output. It is a two way street.

Information. This is a one way street. The person who receives information has no input to the work, but receives the output of the work.

An Example. The production of the monthly corporate P&L has the following roles.

  • The CFO is "Accountable". He or she gets their knuckles rapped severely if it is not produced.
  • The Accounting manager is "Responsible". He or she draws the information together to produce the report
  • The IT department "Contributes" resources as do Accounts Receivable, Accounts Payable and many others
  • The Board is for "Information" only. They receive the output but have no input.

These terms are useful to use in any definition of Roles and Responsibilities.

Here are some approaches you might use to document Roles and Responsibilities.

    1. Basic listing of all roles, and fill in as much of their responsibilities as possible by looking at the schedule or WBS
    2. A roles and responsibilities matrix to identify in a grid form responsibilities on one axis and roles on the other. Also useful to do after 1 to see overlaps and underlaps
    3. Do a RACI analysis

Once documented and agreed, each participant should be briefed on their role and responsibility. This may occur during this phase but will probably take place for most people when they join the project team.

Finally you need to look at any other issues around HR. These are covered in the HR Management User Guide and include recruitment, training, induction and other people management issues.

Resource Management Plan Plan for how resources will be managed in the project
RACI Chart A Word document to create a RACI chart and translate into individual roles and responsibilities
RACI Typical Structure Typical structure for a project in a RACI chart
RACI Converter Enter the RACI details in a worksheet and convert into another worksheet that lists responsibilities by role
Human Resources User Guide Covers general HR issues to be managed in a project
Roles and Responsibilities User Guide A document describing how to create a roles and responsibilities matrix and offering some examples or possible errors. Also covers how to do a RACI chart

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