A key responsibility for both Business Analysts and Project Managers is that of managing stakeholders. Stakeholders are those individuals with a vested interest in a specific business change. Typically, they include: those directly targeted by a business change; those not directly targeted but who may be affected or involved; and those who are impacted by or may impact the change.
As an example, let’s consider a local library that lends items to members of the public. A project has been initiated to replace the system that manages borrower records, to allow the library to handle an increase in the number of customers. We might identify the following stakeholders and classifications:
Directly Targeted by the change:
- The Library Receptionists are our directly targeted stakeholders. We are changing the core system they use on a daily basis.
Affected by the change or Involved in making the change:
- The Library Stockists – team members who organise and restock the shelves when lent items are returned – are affected stakeholders. This project will increase the number of borrowers that the library serves, leading to a rise in the number of items lent at any one time. We are not changing the way a library stockist works, but there will be a larger volume of items to restock and as such they are affected by the change.
Impacted by the change or may Impact the change:
- Data Protection Officials, along with other appropriate regulators, may be considered as stakeholders with the potential to impact our change. We must be sure that our solution adheres to the appropriate laws and regulations.
Once we have identified our stakeholders, we will want to consider how these stakeholders are involved with the different business processes related to the proposed change. A technique to help us achieve this is the use of RACI Matrices.
A RACI Matrix is one of a collection of tools that can be used to analyse stakeholders. Its purpose is to aid in the classification of stakeholder involvement in relevant business processes. RACI is an acronym for Responsible, Accountable, Consulted and Informed. There are several variations on RACI Matrices, including:
- PACSI: Perform, Accountable, Control, Suggest and Informed
- RASCI: Responsible, Accountable, Support, Consulted and Informed
- RASI: Responsible, Accountable, Support and Informed
Each variation offers slightly different information. For more discussion on the varieties of RACI Matrices see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Responsibility_assignment_matrix#Alternatives
However, for the purpose of introducing the technique, we will stick to the RACI format.
Responsible stakeholders are these who operate the process we are currently inspecting. In our library, when we consider the Lend Books process, the stakeholders responsible for the operation of this process are the Library Receptionists; they take the borrower’s library card and desired books, scan them, and then issue them to the borrower.
Accountable stakeholders are those with ultimate responsibility for the process. Often (but not exclusively) accountable roles fall to people in management positions. The Library Manager would be considered accountable for the Lend Books process. They have the responsibility to ensure accurate completion of the process.
Consulted stakeholders are those with whom others must liaise in order to complete the process. This implies a two-way channel of communication. Our Borrower would be a consulted stakeholder in the Lend Books process. The library receptionist needs to obtain additional information from the borrower (their library card) and potentially take payment for any overdue loans.
Unlike consulted stakeholders, informed stakeholders are those who obtain information from a process but have no direct input. The County Council may be an informed stakeholder. They may gather management information regarding the number of loans or the total amount of fines paid in the last month. Informed stakeholders are often informed about the task after its completion.
The Rules of RACI Matrices
There are a few rules associated with the roles in RACI Matrices. Let’s explore these before we finally see how all this becomes a matrix!
- Accountability for a process should only fall to one stakeholder group.
- Responsibility for a process should only fall to one stakeholder group.
- Consulted and Informed stakeholders are mutually exclusive. A stakeholder cannot be both Consulted and Informed.
- The only role that must be assigned is Accountable. If no other roles are assigned, the accountable stakeholder is also considered Responsible.
The Extension of RACI to RASCI
It is sometimes useful to consider an additional category of Support. These are the resources that support the Responsible role in their work. Unlike Consulted, who may also provide input to the process, Support actively do some of the work to complete the tasks. This extra classification can be helpful in clarifying the Responsible stakeholder group, where many are involved in the work.
Why a Matrix?
Now that we have an understanding of the rules of RACI Matrices, let’s build one. When building a RACI Matrix, we have two types of data that are plotted against each other. One is the list of stakeholders involved in the area of business under study and the other is the list of processes we are investigating. In our library, we would likely have processes such as Lend Book, Return Book, Register New Borrowers and Set Targets. Our stakeholders would be Library Receptionist, Borrower, Library Manager, Finance Clerk and County Council.
When we put all of this into a matrix, we might end up with something like this:
If we break down the row for the Lend Book process we see that the Responsible role is held by the Library Receptionist. They are the ones who complete the process. The Accountable role is held by the Library Manager. In this example, the Library Manager is accountable for all the processes within their library.
We have two Consulted stakeholders: Borrower and Finance Clerk. When the Lend Book process is executed, the borrower has to liaise with the Library Receptionist to provide the relevant information to borrow the book. The Library Receptionist also has to request information from the Finance Clerk regarding any outstanding fines.
The County Council are Informed about the output of the Lend Book process. They are interested in the number and frequency of people using the library.
When looking at the Set Targets process, notice that there are no Responsible stakeholders. Based on the rules of RACI Matrices, the Accountable stakeholder is also considered the Responsible stakeholder.
A RACI Matrix is a structured way for Business Analysts to identify stakeholders in a specific set of business processes. It helps to identify roles and responsibilities, and to guide the involvement of these stakeholders in the design and implementation of business improvement activities.
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