I’d like to start this post by pointing out that no framework is a substitute for good process, but can inform good process. Frameworks naturally meld to our use of them, so while ARCI can be a helpful tool, it’s not a silver bullet.
ARCI (slightly modified RACI)
ARCI, or the Responsibility Assignment Matrix, is a framework for assigning participation in a project, team, or organization. Being clear about who is involved, responsible, and accountable goes a long way to empowering team members, and making everyone better aligned on outcomes.
A note here that the only modification I’ve made to turn RACI into ARCI, is to reorder the Accountable and Responsible roles. I can’t understate how much confusion it caused the various teams I’ve worked with in the past to have Responsible come before Accountable in our RACI matrix. One can only assume it was ordered this way to avoid synonymity with “arsey”, but that’s a downside I’m willing to accept in the name of better understanding.
The roles break down like this (from Wikipedia):
|Accountable||The one ultimately answerable for the correct and thorough completion of the deliverable or task, and the one who delegates the work to those responsible. In other words, an accountable must sign off (approve) work that responsible provides. There must be only one accountable specified for each task or deliverable.|
|Responsible||Those who do the work to achieve the task. There is at least one role with a participation type of responsible, although others can be delegated to assist in the work required|
|Consulted||Those whose opinions are sought, typically subject matter experts; and with whom there is two-way communication.|
|Informed||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.|
Building an ARCI matrix into a project brief, and ensuring everyone understands their role right from the kick-off, empowers people and holds them accountable to the goals of the project.
Another area of frequent confusion with ARCI is how it rolls down in teams. For example, many people became confused about how their team leads fit into ARCI, and whether team leads would be Accountable at the project level for every project their team took on.
The answer is that they would not.
The answer is, in fact, what I call The Big A.
Let’s take an example:
Let’s imagine Jordan is a Content Strategist creating a new project and working on Melissa’s team. Melissa is a Director of Marketing Strategy reporting to the CMO Carmen.
Note: The empty space in The Big A are the other things going on within the team.
In the ARCI for the project, Jordan would be Accountable, with Melissa likely Consulted (and Carmen likely Informed unless the project is of high enough importance to need CMO-level review before launch). While Melissa and Carmen are ultimately accountable for everything their respective teams produce, Jordan is accountable for this project, specifically.
- Carmen is ultimately accountable, at a company level, for everything the Marketing department produces
- Melissa is accountable, at a department level, for everything her team produces
- Jordan is accountable, at a team level, for any projects she produces
My former Unbounce co-worker and generally brilliant marketer, Gia Laudi, also recently posted her own take on RACI for startups. As she points out in her post, it doesn’t necessarily matter exactly how you assign the roles: “you can change them to suit how you and your team work.” What matters is that you have an agreed upon set of expectations for how you’ll all make decisions and work together. 🙌
This post is part of series on Actionable Lessons From a High-Growth Startup »
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