Friday, May 6, 2011

Don’t Stop at RACI

I was recently in attendance for a “best practice” presentation where the presenter said “the value of RACI is in the exercise… we never looked at ours again”, and there I found my soap box.
Before I climb up on said soap box, let me first explain the acronym RACI, or RASI as some call it. RACI stands for Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, and Informed. In the case of RASI, the last two letters change to Support and Information. There are other variations out there as well. I have added one simple example below.
RACI is a tool we use during business process reengineering that clarifies roles for each step within the business process. So, to put this in the simple contexts of how it is used, we would first start by mapping out the “as is” or current state process. Then we would identify both valuable steps and waste. The waste would be engineered out and the valuable steps would be carried forth to the “to be” or target process. At this point, we would list who, by title, is responsible or accountable for each step in the process. This is where the presenter stopped…
Here are a few of the problems associated with stopping at this point:
RACI are done in small focus teams; therefore, only a small part of the population that will be affected by the change is present.
Second, what if the HR-stored job descriptions do not contain these steps or, worse yet, contradict them.
Third, if we believe “what we measure gets improved”, then the changes in responsibility have to be associated with metrics to ensure the change.
In order to build this into the culture, you must take this a step further. You should take all the new RACI tables for your business process and reorganize them by job title. You then take this list of tasks by job title and compare it against your existing job descriptions. Are they the same? Can one person do all of the activities from the RACI and the job descriptions? In many cases, the job descriptions are old and out dated and when they are compared to the RACI task list, it is more than one person can handle. At this point, you begin to combine the two and redistribute the work. Remember, if you change anything from the RACI list, you have to go back and revisit the processes and original RACI documents. Once you have finalized the new RACI job descriptions, then you create performance metrics to drive the changes and use the new document in all performance reviews. If you take this extra step, then your performance management system and metrics will be linked to your business processes, which in turn will drive the new behavior that the business process reengineering effort requires for success.

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