Project Responsibilities Framework: Defining Stakeholder Roles


What types of roles and responsibilities are required to deliver the average project?  A standardized "responsibilities framework" can help you to answer that question, providing the means to quickly define and allocate stakeholder roles and responsibilities.  It's all designed to save time and deliver more consistent results.  Read on to learn how it works, starting with expected benefits and related goals.

Value of a Responsibilities Framework

Within a project, assigned "roles and responsibilities" define the physical relationships between the project team and the work that has to be done. Project work is most often multi-dimensional, requiring a combination of skills and activities for planning, execution and completion. In order to ensure that individual project tasks and deliverables are completed as needed, it is wise to clearly define every key project activity in terms of roles and responsibilities.

This may take a bit of effort, but a clearly defined framework for "project roles and responsibilities" offers the following benefits:

  • Roadmaps for team participation and involvement.
  • Clear expectations for team members, minimizing conflict and confusion.
  • Enhanced productivity through structured planning and creative thinking.
  • Structure and consistency to sustain project team transitions; i.e. new team members are not simply replacing a person; they are filling a role, and completing responsibilities.

7 Categories to Allocate Responsibilities

The structured “responsibilities framework” is utilized to save time and to standardize the specification of project related responsibilities. It’s a well established concept – pre-defined standards serve to streamline the project management work effort, offering the means to achieve consistent results.  To this end, standards must be useable, relevant and sufficiently flexible to adapt to varying circumstances.

The “Responsibilities Framework” is such a tool, providing seven (7) standardized categories for expressing, assigning and allocating project responsibilities. These seven (7) categories are designed to closely track primary “work effort” obligations as needed to execute project plans and produce project results:

  1. Define (D): To define the project vision and work effort, including scope, tasks and activities.
  2. Execute (E): To execute the project management process and all project related tasks and activities.
  3. Participate (P): To participate in the planning and execution of all project and process related tasks and activities.
  4. Review (R):  To review project and process plans, decisions and deliverables.
  5. Input (I): To provide input into project and process plans, decisions and deliverables.
  6. Approve (AP): To provide approval and authorization for project and process plans, decisions and deliverables.
  7. Accept (AC): To accept the “transition” of project deliverables into operational outcomes (and assume ownership).

Step-by-Step: Putting the Framework to Use

The “responsibilities framework” can be produced as a matrix to assign one or more of the above listed responsibility categories to each resource according to task, activity and/or deliverable.  The goal is to use the standardized "baseline"  framework as a basis for producing project-specific frameworks.  This result can be realized through the following steps and planning questions:

Step #1:  Assemble and organize your project team (considering project needs, resource requirements and related organizational capabilities).

Step #2: Assign stakeholders to planned project tasks and/or deliverables based on the seven (7) key elements of the responsibilities framework.  This step is performed from the perspective of the "task or deliverable".

  • Who will define this task or deliverable?
  • Who will execute this task or deliverable?
  • Who will participate in the completion of this task or deliverable?
  • Who will review this task or deliverable?
  • Who will have input into this task or deliverable?
  • Who will approve this task or deliverable?
  • Who will accept this task or deliverable as part of operational transition?

Step #3:  Allocate roles and responsibilities to each task and deliverable as per established Responsibilities Framework guidelines.

Step #4: Distribute the completed Responsibilities Framework to the project team as needed in meetings and in project documentation.

Step #5:  Follow established project governance practices to continually monitor performance results and revise the Responsibilities Framework as changing circumstances may dictate.

Continue for more on this topic with our next featured articles How to Create Project Job Descriptions (Profiles), Organizing for Project Team Success and How to Perform the Project Stakeholder Analysis.


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