RACI Model – It’s only a matrix!

Every ITIL course I’ve delivered always has a mention on the RACI model (Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, and Informed).  Now, for those that may be unfamiliar with this model, it allows organizations to clarify roles and responsibilities by tasks. RACI model will highlight those that are accountable / responsible for a task and those that are required to be informed / consulted. Also rules have to be followed when constructing this matrix, which include having only one accountable, one or more responsible, and zero or more to be consulted or informed.

If I follow all the rules, does this mean the activity / process is a success?

Unfortunately, no! It’s only a matrix and we should not get carried away from the results or deem it to be successful just because we are following all the rules.

I came across a client who had a RACI matrix for the incident management process which they wanted to review. They were confident it was a successful process, with all rules being followed and clear. Sadly, I didn’t agree with it being a successful process, for the following reasons:

  • They decided they would hold a number of people accountable for a number of different activities for this process, which made it very difficult to understand or make sense of, especially in the event of critical incidents or disasters. Ok I agree you can hold different people accountable for different areas, but there is a clear difference between holding different people accountable and creating a matrix to share the blame when things go wrong
  • They made too many people responsible for each activity, almost the classic scenario of having too many chefs in the kitchen, and it was very unclear who was actually doing the ‘doing’ part of the task
  • They decided to consult a number of people during the process to ensure it was safe proof against possible issues that could occur. However this resulted in the process taking too long, and in the instance of people being unavailable, customers had to wait an unacceptable time for the most standard of fixes for incidents that they raised

We cannot get carried away and assume it’s a successful process or activity just because the rules are being followed. I’m not asking you to break the rules or bend them, but to understand why they exist. Now, there isn’t a matrix that would work for every organization as this will be dependent on the people available, process in question, constraints / boundaries and other relevant factors.  It’s important that the matrix is designed without the rules being the focal attention, it should be important, but as a governance element not a driver for the matrix!

To learn more, download our White Paper – ITIL: Best Practices for Managing Your IT Infrastructure.


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