Guide to Using the Team Matrix

Why is this important?

what this will help you accomplish

Collaboration is at the heart of how we work at Truss. For successful collaboration, it’s essential to have a team aligned on roles and outcomes. Team alignment will:

  • ensure that everything the project needs done is assigned someone to do it
  • set and maintain expectations across the team
  • support smooth transitions when there are staffing changes
  • avoid “too many cooks” offering input on any task

The Team Matrix is designed to make clear the baseline accountabilities on a project. Accountability is defined as the single person who is the ultimate decision maker for a given area and ensures there is some plan for concerns that arise in that area. Informed by our learnings across projects of varying scale and configurations, our Heads of Practices and Delivery established these expectations to support positive team dynamics.

In the following suggested workshops, teams will have the opportunity to confirm and/or make adjustments based on the particulars of their project.

This helps when….

context for when this useful

Folks come to a project with different assumptions based on prior experience and their own preferences. Aligning on specific areas of ownership is an important step in any project and particularly useful if staffing is unconventional (i.e., no Delivery Manager, fractional CEM). The ideal time to complete this is after the internal project kickoff – once all team members have a solid understanding of the project. This sequence ensures that the leads have a shared clarity for getting the contracted work done after which, the entire team is brought together for team norming to determine the way we work together as a project team. It’s also good practice for the leads to review it at a regular cadence to ensure good team health and the DM will rerun the exercise when there are significant staffing changes and may also call upon it if team dynamics are suffering.

Please note: The role definitions may not be applicable in all cases. For example, for larger, more complex projects like MilMove.

Who should be involved?

who should be included and why – specific to their role

The designated leads from each of the represented practices – team leads – are responsible for completing this document together. Because accountability is at the practice level, it is critical that each lead understand and agree to that accountability. If your project team is small (fewer than ~8 people) the entire project team can complete this as a group.

This discussion should not include the client nor should accountability be assigned to the client or subcontractors. This is used solely to guide how Truss team members work together and is not to be shared with the client.

What should I bring with me?

what are the prerequisites / dependencies

To prepare for the conversation and decision-making, it is best to individually pre-read the document and take notes on questions and areas of needed clarification before workshopping it together. This will help guide the conversation around why someone is accountable as well as who is accountable.

What to keep in mind

what to consider before pursuing this

In agile collaborative teams there are many areas where responsibilities are shared and the practices support one another with their subject matter expertise. The purpose of this exercise is to align on distinct areas of accountability, to identify decision makers and to define successful outcomes so there is as little gray area as possible. For this reason, the Team Matrix is focused only on the areas of tension/overlap between roles; otherwise the practice-specific playbooks specify how the work is done.

Holding each other accountable is a collective effort. If someone is continually failing to meet expectations even with corrective conversations, individual team leads can then escalate to their managers and/or the heads of practices for support.

Tips for facilitating

step-by-step instructions

Time needed: 90 minutes

Pre-read instructions: Each participant pre-reads the Team Matrix, noting areas for discussion.

Running the workshop: The Delivery Manager will facilitate the workshop. If there is not a DM assigned to the project then the CEM will step in.

5 minutes - Introduction

  • Provide an overview and desired outcome of the workshop.

25 minutes - Leadership discussion

  • Line by line reading out loud according to who is accountable
    • In a clarifying discussion of all leads, confirm or adjust which role is accountable and agree on outcomes before moving on to the next row
    • If the team leads/anchors agree that a different role is accountable, make the change in the “accountable” column
    • If the team/leads anchors agree that a role is not applicable to that projects, mark “not applicable” in the column
    • If relevant, share what resources or forms of support from the team is needed in order to be successful
    • Do not add rows. This is focused on key areas and is not meant to be a comprehensive task list.
    • For roles that may not exist on some projects (i.e. delivery manager) decide together who will take accountability on a line-by-line basis.

10 minutes - Reflect on gray areas

  • Where do team members run into each other sometimes? (because we do….)
  • Where do we support each other?
  • What works well?
  • What hasn’t worked well?

Note: If the leads/anchors determine it would be helpful to create a full RACI (responsible, consulted, informed) that should be a separate process only after Accountability has been agreed upon.

Follow-up Workshop

This workshop will follow the same format as the first workshop and will be led by the Delivery Manager (if a DM is not staffed the Product Manager will be the lead).

  • 15 Minutes - Internal Communications
  • 15 Minutes - Client Communications
  • 15 Minutes - Change Management
  • 15 Minutes - Risk Management
    • This will be led by the CEM
  • 40 Minutes - Delivery and Results and Maintenance

When to stop

how to know when you’re successful or how to get back on track

By the end of workshop, you will:

  • Gain familiarity with the roles and responsibilities outlined in the Team Matrix
  • Discuss the tensions between roles and where we bump into each other
  • Build a team-first mindset, together
  • Be clear what your job is / is not
  • Have awareness for all that your teammates are doing

Long term, you will:

  • Have clarity on what is expected individually and as a group, be comfortable using this Team Matrix as a tool to discuss the inevitable challenges that may arise, and feel confident you can be successful
  • Have confidence to use the Team Matrix in conversations with your manager to make sure you have what you need to be successful
  • Be able to provide the broader team with awareness and insight into how the Team Leads are structuring their responsibilities and all can support each other

Managers and Practice Heads will have a framework for supporting their reports on project teams in day-to-day management and guiding through conflicts within project teams.

Next steps

how this connects to the rest of the process

Now that your team has agreed on accountabilities, link the completed Team Matrix to the Meet the Team section of your team’s Project Onboarding doc. Summarize any deltas specific to this project and

  • Each participant is to share those with their manager in their next 1:1
  • The project team should post it to the specific project channel that’s also open to all Trussels
  • The project team should share it along with any feedback on the template and/or workshop instructions to #wg-project-team-playbook

It’s important for the team to review the document regularly. Based on the length or scope of the project, the team should decide what is best for them. However some suggestions would be to review:

  • Monthly or quarterly
  • When there is a change in team staffing
  • At the start of option years
  • If there is significant change in scope of the project
  • If a team lead is assigned as accountable and is not performing as such, the other leads can use this to re-establish expectations

Now that the team leads have established their areas of accountability to one another and to the project, your team can move on to Norming activities to govern the way you work with one another.


Team Matrix Template

Credit: format inspired by Atlassian playbook