A seemingly limitless amount of decisions must be made over the course of a project. In fact, sources estimate that the average adult makes 35,000 remotely conscious decisions each day. While individual decisions are often easy to make, group decisions can present unique challenges. If your project management office (“PMO”) struggles with group decision making, balancing the team, or has trouble getting everyone on the same page, utilizing an alternate decision-making tool may make sense.

DACI decision-making framework (“DACI”) is a tool designed to increase the efficiency and velocity of projects, by delineating specific roles and responsibilities to team members when group decisions arise.  DACI clarifies roles by making it apparent who has approval authority, who must be consulted before decisions are made, and who needs to be informed about the final outcome. The names of these roles are predefined and form the acronym DACI: Driver, Approver, Contributors, and Informed.  The assignment of roles creates a hierarchy that governs how decisions are made within a project, effectively removing the requirement of a group consensus. Here is a bit more detail regarding these important decision-making roles: 

DACI ROLES AND RESPONSIBLITIES

Driver

The Driver is the project leader who “drives” a decision forward and handles the overall coordination of a project.  This team member will perform a myriad of different tasks such as running project meetings, gathering ideas and disseminating them to the team, assigning tasks, and tracking team progress.   The Project Manager is usually the Driver for a project, but this is not always the case. A team member operating in another position may be appointed as the Driver or multiple people may be assigned to the role.

Approver

Aptly named, an Approver has the authority to approve or disapprove decisions impeding the progress of work being performed by the project team.  While Approvers are given great decision-making power, it is not an unbounded right. The DACI must specify which decisions each Approver is responsible for making.

Contributor

Contributors act as advisors to the Driver.  Often a Contributor is an expert, not belonging to the project team, whose area of operations is impacted by the work of the project team.  Contributors do not have approval authority, but they provide counsel and input to the Driver, helping to inform his or her decisions. Typically, the Driver is responsible for finding and utilizing Contributors where appropriate. 

Informed

An Informed does not take part in projects or decisions while they are being considered, but they must be apprised when a decision or change is made.  For instance, if another department needs the technology being created in your project in order to move forward, decisions made by your team may affect the timeline of the other department.  Thus, the fellow department should be an Informed because they will need updates on the project so that they can adjust their processes and timeline accordingly.

SHOULD DACI BE USED FOR EVERY DECISION?

Simple decisions should be readily made without utilizing the framework; but, if a decision will affect multiple people across different teams, the DACI framework should be implemented.  DACI will help team members get on board with a decision quicker by providing contextual information Additionally, utilizing this framework creates documentation of decisions so that new members can get up to speed on what decisions have been made, allowing for quicker onboarding to the team’s comprehensive knowledge.

DACI creates transparency and provides clarity in the workplace, enabling teams to move quicker and work more efficiently.  Expectations are managed because roles are clearly assigned up front, ensuring that everyone knows how they will contribute to the project.  By leveraging this tool, many of the challenges that are inherent in group decision making can be resolved.