Jason looked around the bookshelf trying to find one of his old time favorites, Ken Blanchard's "One Minute Manager meets the Monkey". He thought that is exactly what is happening in his project right now. Project is at the middle of execution. There are many issues. No one takes responsibility. Some are busy passing the blame to one another. "It's not only my project, every project is like this". Jason tried to calm himself down and accept the situation. But as a good project manager he knows he cannot do that, and need to address the issues immediately.
Jason knew that he missed something here. The project came to him in a rush, client requesting the project to be delivered in a short time frame. Jason used his own time to plan the project, but accelerated the project by moving in to execution with very little planning. He missed the process of defining roles and responsibilities and documenting it at the beginning of the project and now it has turned in to a conflict resolution issue, rather than a call for documenting responsibilities. Before attending to the conflict, he updated his lessons learned database and made recommendations to have a responsibility assignments clarified and documented before starting a project.
Every project goes through an iterative cycle of planning, executing, monitoring and control from its initiation to closing. The length of the cycle and how much time a project manager spend in each cycle depends on the size and type of the project, as well as the level of experience a project manager have. Even in a situation where we have less than required time to plan our projects, we must get the most critical planning done before we move in to project execution. Responsibility Assignment Matrix is the document Jason missed in this project. Individual role descriptions of project team members are not adequate when they work in a project as a team. How they share roles and responsibilities, and what they are accountable of, and where they should get involved and where they should not, must be discussed and documented.
This is where experienced project managers and Project Managers who use the world's most recognized Project Management Standards introduced by Project Management Institute USA, use a tool called RACI matrix. RACI is the most recognized form of Responsibility Assignment Matrix used in the world of project management. RACI stands for Responsibility, Accountability, Consulted and Informed. Every person has one or few roles in project when it comes to project activities.
Let's take project planning as an example where Project Managers are responsible and accountable for planning the project, Project Team members are responsible for developing the plans related to their own work in the project, Senior Management in the organization should be Consulted, if we document this at the beginning, no one will be there saying it is not my responsibility.
On the other hand, when there is a RACI Matrix, senior management will not get involved in day to day activities as they know Project Managers and the team members are taking the responsibility and accountability for their work.
Before meeting up with his project team Jason started doing his home work. He 'time travelled' back to the beginning of his project and imagine as it was the start of the project, and documented each and everyone's role as he expected. Not to go out and confront anyone, but to understand the situation. He knew he had the answers. He called the meeting and discusses the issues without finger pointing at anyone. Problems were clearer than before and team was ready to move on and fixed the problems. Jason took a deep breath. When the monkeys are managed people will get managed with very little effort, he smiled. But next time there will be no project execution without a Responsibility Matrix!
Dr Madhu Fernando DBA, PMP