This template enables you to define and record the different roles and their associated responsibilities as they relate to your project. It allows the impact of cross-functional projects to be identified and managed effectively within the organization.
An essential element of any successful project is the ability to identify potential risks and assign the best strategy to mitigate its likely impact on the project. This can be achieved by breaking down each risk into actionable chunks and create a risk breakdown structure (RBS). This document will be updated throughout the life of the project as issues and changes occur.
The process is very similar to that performed the work breakdown structure (WBS) as it creates a hierarchical list of risks the project may or will face. Each risk is decomposed into various categories until it reaches its lowest level. At this level an action or strategy can be defined to mitigate its impact on the project.
The diagram below shows the alternative names given to the ways different projects can define their different roles, their responsibilities in relation to completing deliverables in accordance to the project plan.
All successful projects will use one of these methods to a define project roles & assign appropriate responsibilities. The Responsibility Assignment Matrix (RAM), which our template is based on, enables a project manager to inform each individual of their project role, assigned tasks and the associated responsibilities of that role. This document performs a vital role in communicating the accountabilities and responsibilities of the project team to the project sponsor and its stakeholders.
The use of a RAM has become an essential tool of project managers with the increased popularity of matrix management within organizations. One of the most important functions of the RAM is to combine two key breakdown structures:
the work breakdown structure (WBS) and the organizational breakdown structure (OBS).
It is the relationship between these two breakdown structures - WBS & OBS - that with careful planning enable different project units to be controlled and monitored. It also provides a visual representation of the system so that all those involved with the project understand how the project will be performed. The system created from the RAM is practical and cost effective.
It is important that within the allocations of responsibility there is a distinction made between a person being 'responsible' and that of having 'accountability'.
Responsible - relates to the person who must perform the work to deliver a work package or complete a task.
Accountable - is concerned with the sole individual who will approve (sign-off) a work package or deliverable. This person may delegate the performance of the task to another but they are answerable for it being completed in a timely fashion and at the right level of quality.
If no distinction is made between who is responsible and who is accountable for package; then it is implied that the individual accountable is also responsible for its actual delivery. The RAM will highlight if there is more than one person involved in either of these roles and enable the project manager to clarify and identify one person.
When using the RAM technique it is critical that all involved understand the distinction between a role and a named individual. A 'role' is defined as 'an associated set of tasks' that has been allocated to a single person. This does not mean that they are the only person able to perform this role, but without this clarity of roles confusion would plague the project.
Project managers need to be able to persuade members of the project team to accept the role they have been allocated and explain the reasoning behind it. This is best done when all the project deliverables have been defined then the project manager is able to outline how each member supports the completion of these work packages and deliverables.
You can often involve those assigned with the responsibility in the discussion of who has the best skill set to perform the necessary activities. This process will enable you as project manager to address any concerns that arise in these planning stages.
It is important to keep a strict version control of your RAM document and to ensure that it remains accurate and up-to-date throughout the project. It is often practical for complex projects to have a series of tiered RAM's that relate to different levels of work packages so that issues can be easily identified as well as ensure a common understanding of project requirements and role responsibility.
For projects that involve high-levels of interaction between different organizations and departments it provides a formal procedure to tracking and monitoring project responsibilities. The communications that occur as a result of the RAM are informative and necessary allowing tasks to be completed more efficiently making the whole project team more productive.
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