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Moving Beyond RACI in ITIL v3

Sep 11, 2009

D'Arcy McCallum

The “I” should never be used when there is any expectation that the role must or may take action as part of this activity. If so, the relationship should be expressed as at least a “C” for consulted or an “R” for responsible. The “C” means that during the execution of that activity, a role with a “C” on it may need to provide advice or guidance on some aspect of that activity.

As for the “I” role, you would be wise to document why this role might be consulted, under what conditions and what the consulting expectation is. A word of caution: if the role has to take some action to do with the activity or supply information, it should not be considered to be consulted. Rather, a separate task should be defined with that role assigned an “R” to make it clear that there is responsibility attached to it, and that it is an integral part of the process. For example, all approvals and authorizations should be explicit “R” type involvements, not “C”s.

The documentation says that at least one role has to have an “R” assigned to it for every activity and one and only one role should have an “A” assigned to it. And that the “A” and the “R” can belong to separate roles. This raises issues with many people. One of the first ones is why separate responsibility from accountability? Many people believe that it is actually sound business practice for responsibility and accountability to be tied together.

The key is that the “A” does not refer to the specific activity but rather to the out come of the execution of the process as a whole. Reinforcing this, the documentation goes on to say that the same role should be accountable for all activities within the process. If you are using RACI to map the just the execution of the process rather than that and other things such as governance, then it makes sense for this to be true.

If every iteration of a process can be thought of as a mini-project, than the “A” should belong to whatever role fulfills the equivalent of the project manager. In some processes, the appropriate role that is given the “A” for all activities in the process will be that of a process manager, who indeed fulfills the same duties that a project manager would.

Let’s leave this “A” part alone for now and turn our attention to the really critical part: the “R”.

Look for part II of this series next week on ITSMWatch.com.

D’Arcy McCallum is the director of Education for Consulting-Portal.  He has an extensive background as an IT service management consultant, educator and implementer, with ITIL manager’s certification, GE's Six Sigma quality black belt certification and a Certificate in adult education.