DACI: Top Decison-Making Framework

DACI decision-making frameworkCollaboration allows organizations and teams to accomplish more work faster. But as organizations grow, the decision-making process becomes more complex as well. Business leaders and managers constantly face some kind of challenge, such as complex issues they cannot fully grasp, not having enough time to collect information, not agreeing on the best way to find a solution, or being incapable to understand an alternative. One system of improving the process and the velocity of how a group or team decides is by using a decision framework called DACI.

Table of contents

What is the DACI decision-making framework?

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The DACI decision-making framework is a system that software company Intuit originally developed in the 1980s. Derived from RACI, the DACI framework allows organizations or project teams to assign and display the responsibilities or jobs of individual members when making decisions. It is in the form of a matrix structure and used heavily in areas where decision-making is intensive, such as in product development. The DACI model is an effective system for clearing up decision confusion. It is an acronym where each letter stands for a specific role that should be present whenever a group needs to coordinate and make a decision.

Read also: RACI Charts: Guide for RACI Training and Templates

DACI Roles

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The DACI decision-making framework is a management tool that makes sure everyone involved knows who decides on a course of action for a particular task or function. It clearly lays out who should be involved in specific decisions and how they should contribute.

DACI roles

D-Driver

The driver oversees the entire project from start to finish. This is typically the project leader or project manager. Drivers move the decision-making process forward and ensure that the right people make decisions without making the decisions themselves on each occasion. They set decision timelines and ensure that team activities run on schedule. They coordinate with subject-matter experts, run project meetings, gather and distribute ideas, assign tasks, and track project progress. Drivers also manage each of the team members and ensure the documentation process. The driver is responsible for driving a decision to conclusion.

A-Approver

The approver is the person (or people) who makes the final decision. The approver has the final say on a given aspect of a project. Some organizations have more than one approver, but it is best to keep approvers at a minimum so that teams fully realize the benefits of simplicity and speed from the DACI model. Another benefit of this decision framework is that the role of an approver works well because they are not too immersed in the practical process, allowing them to be more objective in making their choice.

C-Contributor

The contributor is the person or persons who influence the decision due to their knowledge or expertise. They help inform the process and improve the final decision. They act as consultants to drivers and approvers by giving their opinions or unique vantage points to help with decision-making. Drivers are responsible for selecting contributors. They also determine how to incorporate contributors into the process as well as how to use the knowledge or expertise provided by the contributors.

I-Informed

People not directly involved in the project with no authority over decisions may want or need to be informed on the process. They want updates on the project’s progress because it might affect their own work. Informed participants can be teams from other business units who needs to plan and allocate resources depending on the status of the main project. This group usually gets emails and other updates from the driver of the project.

Effectiveness of the DACI model

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Without a clear decision-making process, projects can slow down and stall. The DACI framework is useful in situations where a decision is going to affect multiple groups of people across different teams and business units. The process provides the context so that people know why a decision was made. Documentation is available to anyone who needs to get updated on what decisions were made, so they get onboard quicker. Other benefits are:

  • Eliminating friction and confusion by giving complete authority over specific aspects of decision making to a specific person
  • Representing every aspect of decision-making with a specific role
  • Removing collective responsibility and correcting team imbalance by giving authority to one person or role
  • Eliminating potential disagreements and speeding up decision-making

Read also: Conflict Management, Problem Solving and Decision Making

How to implement the DACI framework

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The DACI framework can bring a team together and enable a higher level of collaborative decision-making. All members agree at the very start that certain people will hold specific responsibilities, eliminating the chance of conflict. Product managers find DACI particularly helpful in moving the project forward in various fronts. Decision-making is a critical point in moving a new product forward and throughout the entire development process. Here are the needed steps to implement DACI:

  1. Assign a Driver for the overall project who will be in charge of running the practical side of the project.
  2. Break down the project into task levels with their own Approver and Contributor for each level.
  3. Define the workflow by having the Driver develop the action plan.
  4. Execute the plan and tackle each task with the rest of the team knowing the specific roles assigned to them.
  5. After completing the task and arriving at the decision point, let the Approver make the final call.
  6. Inform all the stakeholders belonging to the Informed group.

*If the project is large or complex enough, it may be necessary to assign a different Driver for each task level.

DACI sample

Ready to try the DACI decision-making framework?

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In some organizations, a RACI chart is sufficient to make sure who is responsible for completing certain tasks. When a group completes a RACI chart, the project manager or product manager clarifies who is responsible for which tasks and who participates in finishing an activity. However, when the issue is more about decision-making rather than responsibility, a DACI chart provides more clarity. Although multiple people can be responsible, DACI is clear about who is in charge, who is to approve, and who can contribute their point of view.

Jose Maria Delos Santos

Jose is a subject matter expert and member of the writing team for Project-Management.com and Bridge24. He has written hundreds of articles including project management software reviews, books reviews, training site reviews, and general articles related to the project management industry.

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