Effective project management requires decisions that focus on both “what” and on “who.” After making “what” decisions about deliverables and project timelines, the last step before starting the project is to is to create a linear responsibility chart -- also called a responsibility matrix -- that identifies who is responsible for core project activities, actions and decisions.

Function and Objectives

Without clearly defining who is accountable for what in a project, an imbalance of responsibilities often occurs. Not only can this cause problems within the project team, it also can affect the entire project timeline. A linear responsibility chart establishes a clear structure that assigns and keeps track of who is doing what. It’s vital for clarifying working relationships, making sure there are no gaps in the work breakdown structure.

Chart Elements

A linear responsibility chart displays just like a common spreadsheet. It consists of rows for each core project responsibility and columns for the project leader and team members names. Assigned numeric symbols, which typically range from one to-four. Identify and link primary, support, review and approval responsibilities to the project leader and individual team members.

Using a Responsibility Chart

Make actions such as understanding project requirements a primary responsibility for everyone. Identify the workers responsible for submitting a specific deliverable by assigning associated tasks as primary responsibilities. Assign all others working on the task a supporting or final review role. Reserve the approval designation for the project manager.