You might be able to identify distinct accountabilities in your organization when you review your company’s organizational chart. However, you might only be able to name these accountabilities due to your intimate familiarity with your organization.
On the other hand, a new employee, auditor, or prospective investor won’t already have these insights, and a mere glance at your company’s hierarchy won’t be enough to give a complete picture. If your organization is particularly large and complex, you may not have a full grasp of everyone’s accountabilities either.
That’s why it’s so important for organizations to have an accountability map.
What Is an Accountability Map?
An accountability map shows the various functions of an organization, the roles involved in each functional area, and the responsibilities assigned to those roles. If an organization has functional teams, these will be defined as well.
This format goes beyond a traditional organizational chart showing a top-down view of executives, department leads, managers, and team members.
Interactive demo of a function and accountability library, built-in to Functionly. Users can assigned accountabilities to roles and, ultimately, to staff to provide accountability mapping. The library is fully customizable. Go ahead, trying adding a function above!
Why Does Your Organization Need an Accountability Chart?
You need an accountability chart to ensure every desired outcome can be traced back to an individual team or role. Otherwise, you risk processes becoming confusing and chaotic, and tasks may be left undone.
When people aren’t sure who is responsible for a certain task, they may not know who to come to when they need help or when it’s time to verify the completion of a task. There may also be redundancies when people duplicate work they assume no one else has done.
But when accountabilities are clearly defined, important projects become much smoother.
An accountability map will typically outline functions and outcomes. These are the things that need to be accomplished for your company to succeed. Once you identify these functions, you can map them to teams, roles, and employees.
Sometimes, you might find that a team or role is not accountable for a particular function. Additionally, you may find a complex function assigned to an individual or team that doesn’t have the resources to handle it.
However, this is a clear benefit of using accountability maps, allowing you to identify unassigned but important items — and those better suited for other roles. You can also identify large, complex tasks that you should divide between teams or roles.
An example of accountable metrics mapped to employees, using Functionly.
Accountability mapping can also help when it comes to headcount planning and recruiting. As you identify gaps, you may realize you need to create and fill new roles to ensure task completion.
HR team members can also use accountability maps to write job listings and speak with candidates about openings. Accountability maps allow them to communicate accurate information about roles and responsibilities.
Accountability maps also lead to more transparency. When everyone in a company has access to an accountability chart, they can see who is responsible for various functions. And while this may be a hard concept to sell, it ensures that no one is able to use a lack of clarity to avoid responsibilities.
Adding Efficiency to Projects
While you can create an accountability map for your entire organization, it’s also possible to create specific maps for major projects. Considering that large projects often entail multiple tasks and multiple people taking on various roles, it’s easy to see how a small-scale accountability map can help provide direction and make the workflow progress more efficiently.
Responsibilities vs. Accountabilities
Responsibilities and accountabilities are often referred to interchangeably. Sometimes, that makes sense; after all, the person who is responsible for a task is usually also accountable for the outcome. However, in organizational mapping, it’s important to understand the difference between the two terms.
Responsibility is given to the person or team that is assigned a specific task to complete. For example, in a large software development project, a QA testing coordinator may be given the responsibility of creating all of the test cases for a particular module.
However, the QA manager may also be the one who is accountable for ensuring that all test cases are finished for every module, that they are usable for the QA testers, and that the team tests for all potential use cases.
Accountabilities are also associated with desired outcomes. In the example above, the desired outcome is the successful creation of test cases and ultimately an adequately tested software package.
Shared Accountabilities and Communication
It isn’t unusual for an accountability map to reveal that some accountabilities overlap different functional teams or departments. For example, the HR and accounting teams may work together to create the budget for payroll, ensure that the company’s payroll account is funded, approve pay increases, and authorize the payroll process each week.
When these shared accountabilities are identified, it’s important to clarify which tasks are assigned to which team and how different roles within those teams work to complete the task. Then, the leaders from those functional areas will need to determine how reporting and communication are going to flow.
Functionly interactive template: Check out the assignment of accountabilities in this template.
Creating an Accountability Map
It’s important for any organization to document the tasks that need to be accomplished, define who is responsible, and denote individual accountabilities to ensure that the work gets done. You can take these steps to create your own accountability map.
Step Away from Team Members and Focus on Roles
Unlike a standard org chart, an accountability map doesn’t focus on people from the start. Instead, you should start by creating an organizational chart that focuses on roles without any people assigned to them. Make sure you include job titles and descriptions to better inform the rest of the process. Next, make a list of responsibilities that go with each role.
Don’t be alarmed if the number of roles in your chart exceeds your actual number of employees. Some people may take on multiple roles.
Match Names to Roles
Now, you can assign people in your organization to the roles you defined. In some cases, this will be relatively straightforward. In others, you may be surprised to find that people are taking on more responsibilities than you thought (or fewer).
Conduct a Structural Audit
Now that the map is nearly complete, review the chart carefully. You may find gaps where no one is filling certain roles you’ve defined, or you may discover that some people are spread too thin. As you can imagine, this process often reveals a need for additional training or hiring.
After your audit, you may end up with newly created roles, combined roles, and altered reporting structures. This is a complex process, but it’s worth the efficiency you gain.
Accountability Mapping and Future Planning
You can create an accountability chart to optimize your current organizational structure, but they’re also helpful when you're planning for the future. For example, you can identify new roles while preparing for a company expansion. Then, you can use the chart to address required budget increases with shareholders.
The process of accountabilities mapping can be made much easier with the right tools. Functionly provides org chart tools that make it possible to create and share accountability charts across the organization. Try it for free today.