The RACI Matrix
When you research various models for delegation, there’s a good chance you come across the RACI matrix. Using this model, you can define which people should be Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, or Informed in a project, for a set of tasks or deliverables (Figure 2).
Figure 2 The RACI matrix
The RACI matrix can be a useful tool for making delegation of work transparent, so that everyone involved understands what they can expect from each other. However, I see three problems with this model when it is applied in an Agile context:
- First, the RACI matrix suggests that, by default, the people who are responsible for a task are usually not the ones who are held accountable for the results. But Agile software development requires that those who are responsible for a job are also held accountable. True, the manager also remains accountable for the team’s work. But in an Agile context, work performed by team members should be signed off by the team, not by managers.
- Second, the Consulted and Informed roles have nothing to do with delegation in an Agile organization. In fact, various extensions to the RACI matrix suggest other extra roles, such as Supporters, Verifiers, Contributors, Reviewers, etc. These are all process-related roles, and they are not important when passing authority from a manager to an individual or a team. Agile managers should not mix process details with delegation. The point of delegation is to push process to other people, and let them figure out the details.
- Third, the RACI matrix is typically used to define roles for individual tasks and deliverables. But I believe delegation of authority should not concern itself with such a detailed level. The level of authority should be the same for all similar tasks within a key decision area. Otherwise, people are still uncertain about their authority and the possibility of invisible electrical fences.
Fortunately, there is an easy way out of this. We will now fix all issues with the Seven Levels of Authority.