Also called: DACI Decision-Making Model, DACI Framework, and DACI Model
Relevant metrics: Quality of Decision-Making, Speed of Decision-Making, Level of Engagement, Level of Alignment, and Level of Satisfaction
What is the DACI Decision-Making Framework?
The DACI Decision-Making Framework is a tool used to help teams make decisions in a structured and organized manner. It is a framework that helps to ensure that all stakeholders are involved in the decision-making process and that the decision is made in a timely and efficient manner.
The acronym DACI stands for
- Driver is the individual responsible for making the decision
- Approver is the individual who has the authority to approve the decision
- Contributors are the individuals who provide input and feedback on the decision
- Informed are the individuals who need to be kept informed of the decision
The DACI Decision-Making Framework is a simple yet effective tool for product management and user experience teams. It helps to ensure that all stakeholders are involved in the decision-making process and that the decision is made in a timely and efficient manner. It also helps to ensure that all stakeholders are aware of the decision and that the decision is made in accordance with the team’s goals and objectives.
Where did the DACI Decision-Making Framework come from?
The DACI model, first conceived at Intuit, has its roots in the RACI framework, which is a responsibility assignment matrix. Both DACI and RACI derive their nomenclature from the four distinct roles required for project execution. These roles are: Responsible (those individuals who are actively engaged in project work), Accountable (the individual who has the ultimate ownership of the project’s outcome), Consulted (the experts who offer their knowledge to guide the project), and Informed (those who need to be kept up-to-date on project progress).
Challenges of Product Management
While the RACI framework is suitable for most types of business projects, product management teams face unique challenges. They need to tackle multiple fronts simultaneously and frequently make strategic decisions. As explained by Brian Lawley and Pamela Schure, product management experts, the DACI model stands out as a superior framework for product managers, primarily because it emphasizes decision clarity.
Advantages of the DACI Model
The DACI model has numerous advantages that make it an ideal framework for product management teams. One of its most significant benefits is that it defines clear roles for each team member, ensuring that everyone knows their responsibilities and accountabilities. This clarity helps avoid confusion and overlaps, minimizing the chances of misunderstandings and delays. Additionally, the model helps establish an efficient decision-making process, enabling product managers to make informed and strategic decisions quickly. By designating an individual as accountable for the project outcome, the model provides a clear point of contact for decision-making and accountability. Furthermore, the model empowers experts to provide their inputs and recommendations, ensuring that decisions are well-informed and not based on individual biases.
The Roles and Responsibilities of the DACI framework
The Role of the Driver
In the DACI decision-making model, the Driver is the individual responsible for leading the project. Although the Driver does not possess the authority to approve decisions (which lies with the Approver), they function as a project manager, overseeing and coordinating project meetings, gathering and disseminating ideas, assigning tasks, and monitoring the team’s progress. The Driver’s duties are essential to ensure that the project runs efficiently and meets its objectives.
Good Characteristics of a Driver in the DACI Model
A key characteristic of a good driver in the DACI model is trustworthiness. The project team must trust the driver to make decisions on behalf of the group. It is essential to select an individual who embodies the mission of the organization and prioritizes quality work. A trustworthy driver can instill confidence in the team and ensure that everyone is aligned towards achieving the project’s objectives.
Proficiency in Problem-Solving
Another vital trait of a driver in the DACI model is proficiency in problem-solving. Strong problem-solving skills can enable the driver to respond professionally to an approver’s vetoes, for example, and recognize the importance of making a critical decision. It is crucial to select an employee who strives to understand a problem before attempting to solve it. A good driver must be able to think critically, analyze situations and come up with effective solutions.
Competence at Communicating with Others
Communication is an essential part of the DACI model, and a competent communicator can play a significant role in the success of the project. A good driver should be able to actively listen to advice from the contributor and the approver, as well as other members of the team. They can also express their opinions and exude leadership while remaining respectful. Effective communication can ensure that everyone is on the same page and working towards achieving the project’s objectives.
Ability to Interpret Information Correctly
In the DACI model, drivers must comprehend the contributor’s recommendations and make good choices for the team. They may also work to interpret the approver’s concerns and seek clarification. A good driver must be able to interpret information correctly and make informed decisions. They should be able to understand the implications of each decision and evaluate the options available to them. The ability to interpret information correctly can ensure that the team is making progress towards achieving its goals.
The Importance of the Approver
The Approver is the individual within the DACI model who has the final say on a particular aspect of the project. In some cases, there may be multiple Approvers, such as co-founders in a company. However, since the DACI model is geared towards rapid decision-making, it is preferable to have as few Approvers as possible. Their role is crucial, as they have the authority to approve or reject project proposals, and their decisions carry significant weight.
Important characteristics and responsibilities of the approver are:
- Authority to Judge. An approver is someone who has the authority to evaluate the decisions made by the project manager. It could be a senior executive, board member, or someone who has a vested interest in the project’s outcome.
- Veto Power. An approver can veto decisions that could have negative consequences for the organization or its stakeholders. For example, a chief officer can veto a project that violates company policy or conflicts with its values.
- Client Expectations. In some cases, the approver may be a client who provided financial resources or equipment for the project. They have a stake in the project’s outcome and want to ensure that it meets their expectations.
- Collaboration and Understanding. The approver needs to collaborate well with the driver and the contributor to make informed decisions. They should have a good understanding of the project’s purpose and goals to provide valuable input. Select an approver who has the expertise and experience to guide the project towards success.
The Value of Contributors
Contributors are individuals within an organization who possess specialized knowledge or expertise and can provide insights that aid in project decision-making. It is the responsibility of the Driver to identify and select Contributors, determining how best to incorporate their insights into the group decision-making process. This may involve inviting them to project meetings to share their perspectives with the team or gathering their insights offline. The incorporation of Contributors’ ideas ensures that the project is informed by diverse viewpoints and promotes a more comprehensive and robust decision-making process.
Good Characteristics of Contributors
Assess the purpose of the project
Before selecting a contributor, it’s essential to assess the purpose of the project. The project’s scope might dictate the expertise you require to make successful decisions. Think about what you want to accomplish at the end of the process and select a contributor who can guide you through it.
Review the contributor’s technical skills
The contributor’s technical skills can play a crucial role in the success of the project. A contributor with relevant technical skills can complement your skills and expose you to a perspective you may not have considered. Therefore, review the contributor’s technical skills before making a decision.
Consider recruiting a panel of experts
In some cases, having one contributor might not be enough to make the right decision. Consider recruiting a panel of experts to assist the driver. Having a panel can reaffirm the driver’s decisions and provide additional insights that might have been overlooked.
The Role of the Informed
The Informed is a group of people within an organization who are not directly involved in the project but require updates on its progress because it may impact their own work. In the context of product management, the Informed group could consist of individuals in sales and marketing, customer support, or other teams whose planning and resource allocation could be affected by the status of the product’s development. Although they have no authority over the project’s decisions, keeping the Informed group updated is essential to ensure transparency and promote effective communication within the organization.
To keep your group informed, consider:
- Hosting a group meeting after every decision. This allows everyone to come together and discuss the decisions made by the driver, contributor, and approver.
- Scheduling a one-on-one meeting with each department head. This can be an effective way to communicate important information to specific departments or individuals who may be directly impacted by the decisions made.
- Sending a mass email with explicit work instructions. This can be a quick and easy way to keep everyone in the loop and ensure that they have the information they need to continue their work.
- Writing updates in an employee newsletter. If your organization has a newsletter, this can be a good way to communicate updates and keep everyone informed.
How to Use the DACI Model for Group Decision-Making
It can be challenging to navigate differing opinions and priorities. Here’s a step-by-step guide to using the DACI decision-making process in a grup setting.
Getting set up
Whether your team is remote or in-person, start by creating a collaboration document, such as a Kanban or Virtual whiteboard. Title the document “DACI: [Question we’re trying to answer]?” and add the following columns:
- DACI. Add the lines: Driver, Approver, Contributors, Informed.
- Background. Provide more information on why this decision is required.
- Data. Quantitative and qualitative metrics or other information available to help reach a decision.
- Options. Prepare a list where you can fill in your optionns during the workshop
- Followups. Add any questions that need to be answered to make the decision. One card per question. Assign the best person to answer them. Add any action items that come up in making the decision. One card per action item. Assign the best person to complete them.
- Decision. When a decision is made, add it here.
Send the document to attendees in advance so they can complete as much information as possible before the session. Use a DACI to make decisions like:
- What should we charge for our product?
- How do we make our website more SEO-friendly?
Start the workshop: Set the Stage (5 Minutes)
Begin the meeting by recapping the decision that needs to be made and its impact on customers. Let the team know that the goal of the session is to create a plan for getting all of the information needed to make the right decision.
Step 1: Driver (5 Minutes)
The team will first need to agree on a Driver for the decision. This person will be responsible for making sure all stakeholders are aware of what’s happening, gathering information, getting questions answered, and completing action items. Drivers, like Program Managers or other team members, ensure a decision is made but don’t necessarily influence the decision.
Once everyone has decided on a Driver, write it down in the collaboration document.
Step 2: Approver (5 Minutes)
Next, assign an Approver for the decision. This person has the final say in approving the decision. Approvers are typically managers or other leaders in the company with decision-making authority.
Step 3: Contributors (5 Minutes)
Decide on who will be Contributors to the project. These are people who have knowledge that will inform the decision-making process. Choose a few team members with expertise in the decision to be made to provide supporting information to help make the decision.
Step 4: Informed (5 Minutes)
Under Informed, include anyone affected by the decision who isn’t directly involved in making the decision. These are people and teams who may need to change their work as a result of the decision made and will need to know the outcome. Think of any people or teams whose work could be affected by the decision. Examples include marketing, legal, sales, or support.
The actual work: Create a Plan (30 Minutes)
Consider all the information that will need to be collected to make the decision. There’s no need to answer the questions in this session; this is just to get the team thinking. Here are a few things that may be useful to consider:
- Due date - the deadline for making the decision.
- Background - the reason this decision is required.
- Supporting data - metrics to help support your decision.
- Options considered - a brief explanation of each option for the decision, including feedback from a wide variety of sources grouped by theme, or a rating based on factors of importance for your project, such as scope, cost, and time.
Wrap Up (5 Minutes)
Answer any outstanding questions and assign action items and due dates to owners before ending the meeting.
With these simple steps, the DACI model can help your team make informed and efficient decisions while ensuring that all stakeholders are involved and informed. Give it a try for your next important decision.
How DACI framework enhances decision-making
In the business world, slow decision-making can lead to lost opportunities and reduced profits. The DACI decision-making framework has been created to resolve this issue by giving each member of a group a clearly defined role within the decision-making process. Here are the benefits of using the DACI framework:
Minimizes conflicts by defining boundaries
The DACI framework eliminates subjective friction by giving complete authority over specific aspects of decision-making to a specific person. This means there are no arguments over who gets the final call, or whose job it is to lay out the facts. By defining the boundaries of every role, DACI empowers the Drivers and Approvers to make the project a success. It prevents conflicts and ensures that everyone plays by the rules.
DACI significantly reduces miscommunication by formalizing the communication channels and defining its protocols. The Driver is the one who controls everything, including communication. The Contributors can only intervene when the Driver requests them to. The Contributors can share feedback with the Approver or Driver but cannot force it in any way. Similarly, the Informed Observers, no matter how experienced, cannot jump in the project operations or communicate directly with the team. This formalized communication process simplifies decision-making and ensures that everyone is on the same page.
In DACI, the decision-making process is simplified because the Approver has the ultimate responsibility. They can empower the Driver to make decisions on their behalf, but the final responsibility lies with them. This simplifies the decision-making process for everyone involved because the Driver knows where to take the instructions from. This is especially crucial in cross-functional projects where multiple senior managers might be on the team with a junior project manager running the show.
Prevents scope creep
Scope creep is a common problem in projects with multiple points of contact. With DACI in place, scope creep is prevented because the Driver finalizes the scope with the Approver before assigning it to a freelancer for execution. If a Sales Manager is involved as a Contributor, they cannot directly request changes. This allows the freelancer (or anyone executing the project) to work with complete focus.
Enhancing communication processes
Using the DACI framework, the client or stakeholder can express their expectations and concerns, and the project manager can make educated decisions using advice from the contributor. Thorough communication can clarify questions team members may have and ensure that everyone understands the purpose of the project and its goals.
Resolving interpersonal conflict
The DACI framework can help resolve interpersonal conflicts. Suppose the Approver vetoes a decision, creating a disagreement within the team. The other leaders can devise a solution that adheres to every party’s interest, and they can move forward with a productive attitude.
Keeping the project on track
With an appointed person to make decisions, the project can proceed as planned, allowing the team to complete their tasks with clear instructions. Once created, both the RACI and DACI charts can be reused for future projects with minimal modification required. The resulting RACI or DACI model template will help you streamline the project management process even further and cut even more time from the average project lifecycle.
RACI vs DACI: Two Effective Frameworks
When it comes to project management, assigning responsibilities and defining roles are crucial to a project’s success. Two popular frameworks used for this purpose are RACI and DACI. While they share similarities, they have slight differences in how they define their roles.
RACI, which stands for Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, and Informed, identifies who is responsible for executing the project, who is ultimately accountable for its success or failure, who are the subject matter experts that can help make the right decisions, and who should be informed about the project’s progress but cannot participate in any way.
On the other hand, DACI, which stands for Driver, Approver, Contributor, and Informed Observer, is more focused on decision making. It determines who decides on a course of action for a particular task or function. The Driver is responsible for moving the task forward, the Approver approves the decision made by the Driver, the Contributor provides input to the decision-making process, and the Informed Observer is kept informed but cannot participate.
Despite their differences, RACI and DACI can work together effectively. In fact, it is well within the scope of RACI to identify the overall responsibility matrix that DACI will perform under. DACI complements RACI by offering a clearer decision-making hierarchy that is vital to a project’s on-time completion and success.
Is DACI better than RACI?
While RACI is great for process management and identifying specific responsibilities, DACI is better suited for product management and cross-functional projects. Project management experts Brian Lawley and Pamela Schure believe that DACI is the better framework for modern product teams because it covers everything that RACI does but offers a more transparent decision-making framework.
Both RACI and DACI are useful frameworks for effective project management. Choosing the right framework depends on the type of project, its scope, and the team’s needs. RACI is more focused on responsibilities, while DACI is more focused on decision making. By understanding the differences and similarities between these frameworks, project managers can effectively use them to ensure the success of their projects.
What is the alternative to DACI matrix?
There are several alternatives to the DACI matrix, including the RAPID decision-making framework, the SCARF model, and the LACE model.
- RACI. The RACI framework stands for Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, and Informed. It is used to identify who is responsible for completing specific tasks, who is accountable for the overall success or failure of the project, who needs to be consulted before making a decision, and who needs to be kept informed about the project’s progress.
- RASCI. This is a modification of the RACI framework and includes the following roles: Responsible, Accountable, Support, Consulted, and Informed.
- RAPID. The RAPID framework stands for Recommend, Agree, Perform, Input, and Decide. It is used to define roles and responsibilities for decision-making, similar to DACI. However, RAPID emphasizes communication and collaboration between team members, and focuses on the decision-making process rather than just the final decision.
- SCARF. The SCARF model is a neuroscience-based framework that helps teams understand the social and emotional factors that influence their behavior. It stands for Status, Certainty, Autonomy, Relatedness, and Fairness, and is used to create a positive work environment that fosters collaboration and innovation.
- LACE. The LACE model stands for Lead, Assist, Consult, Execute. It is a decision-making framework that is similar to RACI and DACI, but with more emphasis on leadership and collaboration. LACE defines roles and responsibilities for decision-making, and emphasizes the importance of clear communication and collaboration between team members.
- PARIS. The PARIS framework stands for Participants, Accountable, Reviewers, Input Required, and Sign-off Required. It is similar to the RACI matrix but includes additional roles for participants, reviewers, and sign-off requirements.
- PACE. The PACE framework stands for Performer, Approver, Consulted, and Executive. It is similar to the RACI matrix but includes an additional role for the executive who is responsible for making final decisions.
Each of these frameworks has its own strengths and weaknesses, and the choice of framework will depend on the specific needs and goals of the project and team.
When using DACI Framework falls short of expectations
As companies look to innovate and adopt more agile processes, the rigidity of DACI can become a hindrance. Here are the downsides of using DACI:
The framework may not account for all stakeholders
Most decision-making problems arise when decisions affect people who aren’t present when decisions are made. This includes people who must comply with the decision and those with enough power to override it. While DACI attempts to address this issue, it’s only one-quarter effective.
Approvers tend to overstep their roles
While it’s common for decisions to have multiple Approvers, they often act like parents coaching from the sidelines, controlling or influencing the decision-making process itself. It’s also typical for each Approver to want their line of responsibility to be in the driver’s seat, leading to a collaborative but ineffective approach.
Roles can’t be assigned correctly until after decisions are made
Assigning roles upfront based on guesses about the final decision can cause slow, frustrating escalations when challenges arise and choices change. This is the most common problem, given that decisions are fundamentally about making changes.
The framework lacks a clear Driver role
The Driver role is critical in today’s speedy world since someone has to drive each decision to completion. Multiple Drivers at the same time can cause problems, but the RAPID framework, derived from strategic decisions, doesn’t include a clear Driver role.
Escape the rigidity
DACI’s rigid framework may not be suitable for organizations that value innovation and collaboration. While the Driver role is essential, the other roles may not be as effective, and the framework may not account for all stakeholders, leading to slow and frustrating escalations. Companies must consider the limitations of DACI before adopting it as a decision-making framework.
- What is the purpose of the decision?
- Who are the stakeholders involved in the decision?
- What is the scope of the decision?
- What is the timeline for making the decision?
- What resources are available to support the decisionmaking process?
- What criteria should be used to evaluate the decision?
- What are the potential risks associated with the decision?
- How will the decision be communicated to stakeholders?
- How will the decision be monitored and evaluated?
- Product Management For Dummies by Brian Lawley & Pamela Schure (2021)
- DACI Decision Making Framework by Atlassian
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