Plan the Process:

Identify project sponsor

The sponsor is responsible for seeing the process through completion. Typically, the sponsor holds a supervisory (functional or matrix organization) or project lead role (project or matrix organization) relevant to the positions to be clarified.

Identify scope of position responsibility clarification

The sponsor generates a list of positions to be included in the responsibility matrix, defining an internal stakeholder group.

Determine decision-making approach

Sponsor determines to what degree decisions about responsibility assignment will be made by the sponsor versus negotiated among the team members.

Determine duty description granularity

Specified job duties form the core of the responsibility matrix.

Specifying duties in detail at the organizational process or even procedure level will avoid misunderstandings. However, if starting from a very ambiguous understanding of position boundaries, it may be useful to begin by describing the work to be performed at a more general level and go through the exercise of assigning involvements at this level of description, then break each high level descriptions down into process and procedure-level descriptions, repeating the exercise of assigning involvement at this bottom level of granularity.

Determine duty description style guidelines

Document any style conventions to be followed when writing duty descriptions. The following are recommended:

  • Separate each distinct duty into a separate line.
  • Begin each duty description with an active verb, such as:
    • develop
    • establish
    • create
    • certify
    • review
    • prepare
    • ensure
    • maintain
    • design
    • enforce
    • coordinate
    • recommend
    • participate in
    • monitor
    • implement
  • Use sentence case.

Determine role/function name style guidelines

Roles are clusters of functionally related duties used to group detailed duty descriptions into logical bundles. A given full-time position typically comprises multiple roles, which may be shared among similar positions.

Document any style conventions to be followed when writing role names. The following are recommended:

  • Name roles after process areas.
  • Reveal any hierarchic relationship by concatenating prepending process areas with process categories, such as:
    • Systems - Availability Management
    • Systems - Configuration Management
    • Systems - Continuity  Management
    • Employee - General
    • Employee - IT Department
    • Employee - Administrative Team

Determine position holder collaboration & communication logistics

Project sponsor determines how stakeholders identified in the scope will collaborate (if a negotiation approach is chosen) and, in either decision-making approach, how decisions about responsibility will be communicated among stakeholders.

Greater participation by the people holding the positions in the process of assigning duties assignment should correlate with greater mutual understanding and buy-in and can also lessen the administrative burden of creating the responsibility matrix.

Identify external stakeholders & determine communication logistics

Sponsor determines how responsibility decisions will be communicated to external stakeholders (suppliers, customers, & managers of internal stakeholders).

Identify & prioritize source resources for review

Sponsor reviews relevant organizational resources, soliciting stakeholders as appropriate to identify background materials to review for compiling duties and prioritize their review order. Such source resources may include:

  • position descriptions
  • project & task lists
  • standard operating procedures
  • organization chart
  • inventories
  • planning calendars
  • service portfolios
  • strategic plan
  • reference models

Assign roles for resource review according to collaboration plan

Project sponsor apportions review of background resources among stakeholders according to collaboration plan. Recommend two stakeholders review each background resource, one primary reviewer and one secondary. The primary reviewer will extract duties from the resource under review and enter it into the responsibility matrix, phrasing entries according to the style conventions. The secondary reviewer will do the same after the primary reviewer has completed, negotiating additions and improvements to ensure coverage, clarity, and consistency.

Establish a review cycle

In many organizations, position responsibilities frequently change. The responsibility matrix created by this procedure should be reviewed regularly by the position holders to ensure it is accurate.

Communicate responsibility apportionment plan to position holders

Project sponsor communicates the plan to the stakeholders, delegating work and coordinating collaboration logistics such as meetings or on-line discussions as required.

Prepare the Responsibility Matrix tool:

Make a working copy of the responsibility matrix

  1. Open the following Google sheet:
  2. Select File > Make a copy...
  3. Enter an appropriate name for the responsibility matrix
  4. Activate OK

Share the copied responsibility matrix with position holders

  1. Select File > Share...
  2. Enter Google account e-mail addresses for internal stakeholders
  3. Select Can edit as sharing permission
  4. Click Done

Enter position titles & summaries

  1. Open the copied responsibility matrix
  2. Click on the Positions tab
  3. Enter the positions titles of the internal stakeholders in the Title column
  4. Enter the corresponding position summary/overview/brief description in the Summary column

Update the involvement codes as needed

  1. Open the copied responsibility matrix
  2. Click on the Codes tab
  3. Update the entries in the following columns:
    • Code: A (single character) abbreviation used to record the Involvement type in the Responsibility Matrix
    • Involvement: The name of the type of involvement a given position has for the given task, decision, or duty
    • Definition: A description of the involvement
    • Prepend Text: Text that will be attached to the beginning of the Duty description in the automatically generated detailed Position Description to denote the given Involvement type.

For the purpose of building position descriptions, the following Codes may be useful:

  • Responsible: performs the work
  • Backup: performs the work in the absence of the Responsible party (provides fail-over redundancy)
  • Supporting: assists Responsible party in performing work
  • Approving: authorizes and approves work, ultimately accountable
  • Consulting: provides input before/during work
  • Informed: notified after a decision or action is taken

Many other useful variants provide additional alternatives codings that can be useful given the dynamics of different organizations.

Clear any irrelevant sample duties as needed

  1. Open the copied responsibility matrix
  2. Click on the Responsibility Matrix tab
  3. Select unneeded cells in the Function / Role & Duty columns
  4. Press Delete
  5. Repeat steps 3-4 as needed

Optionally document the source resources

  1. Open the copied responsibility matrix
  2. Click on the Source Resources tab
  3. For each organizational resource identified in the planning phase, complete the following fields:
    • Title: Name of the resource
    • Description: A description of the resource
    • Primary Reviewer: Title of the position doing the first-pass review of the resource & recording suggested duties
    • Secondary Reviewer: Title of the position reviewing the resource after the primary reviewer completes a pass
    • Locator: URL or description of where/how to access the resource

Optionally document external stakeholder communication plan

  1. Open the copied responsibility matrix
  2. Click on the External Stakeholders tab
  3. For each customer, supplier, manager or other external stakeholder identified in the planning phase, complete the following fields:
    • Title: title of the given stakeholder's position
    • Relationship - Position: The relationship (customer, supplier, manager) of the given stakeholder to the included position(s)
    • Communications Plan: How the responsibilities will be communicated to the stakeholder

Optionally document duty & function/role guidelines

  1. Open the copied responsibility matrix
  2. Click on the Guidelines tab
  3. For each guideline identified in the planning phase, complete the following fields:
    • Type: Category for the guideline, such as:
      • Duty granularity
      • Duty description style
      • Role/function style
    • Guideline: A concise statement of the guideline, rule, or convention to follow
    • Rationale / Description: Any supporting information motivating or explaining the guideline

Add Duties to the Responsibility Matrix:

Locate & distribute background resources to reviewers

Review each background resource for relevant duties [primary reviewer]

Add each relevant duty to blank row of matrix if not duplicative of existing duty [primary reviewer]

Notify secondary reviewer after resource review [primary reviewer]

Review each background resource for relevant duties [secondary reviewer]

Add each relevant duty to blank row of matrix if not duplicative of existing duty [secondary reviewer]

Organize & Edit Duties:

Review & edit duties

  • Combine similar items as appropriate.
  • Edit to ensure compliance with agreed-upon duty granularity & style conventions

Assign Involvement Codes:

Review involvement code definitions for understanding

For each duty, enter relevant code for each position

Review & edit responsibility assignments to ensure accuracy

Communicate Responsibilities:

Generate position descriptions

  1. Open the copied responsibility matrix
  2. Click on the Position Description tab
  3. For each position for which you would like to generate a detailed position description:
    1. Enter the given position's number from the Positions tab in the Position # cell
    2. Click and hold column header A, then drag to column header B to highlight the columns
    3. Select Edit > Copy to copy the position description
    4. Paste the position description into the application of your choice

Communicate to position holders according to internal stakeholder plan

Communicate to suppliers & customers according to external stakeholders plan

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