The Function Phase Matrix: Clarifying Roles and Responsibilities

Companies launch new projects every day. Many of them get off to a fast start but that does not necessarily mean a good start. Projects get derailed quickly when teams don’t have a clear understanding of what each functional group is contributing during each phase of the project. The Function Phase Matrix helps clarify cross-functional team objectives, roles and responsibilities. It tracks key deliverables across the phases of a project and identifies each function’s participation in each of these phases.


  • Ensures cross-functional alignment at the phase/milestone level
  • Ensures that key deliverables are assigned to individuals
  • Helps align your team with product and delivery expectations when used in management reviews
  • Applicable to large or small teams, simple or complex projects, and local or globally dispersed teams
Function Phase Matrix
Function Phase Matrix

The Function Phase Matrix is a table organized by key functions (rows) and product development phases (columns), indicating the key activities and deliverables during each phase. The matrix provides an overview of the entire development process on a single page. It is very useful when defining roles and responsibilities at the very beginning of a project.

Creating the Function Phase Matrix as a team exercise works best. This approach encourages cross-disciplinary discussion on potential gaps or overlaps between functions. Use the matrix to identify dependencies between team members and milestone deliverables.

Which Business Problems Does the Tool Solve? Even in the most well-managed projects, who is doing what, when can be confusing. This confusion causes schedule delays, rework, and unnecessary friction between functions. The Function Phase Matrix can increase the effectiveness of a project team by clarifying responsibilities at the very beginning of the project. It is also one of the easiest ways to create a consistent development process and helps accelerate the ramp-up of new hires.

How to Construct a Function Phase Matrix The Function Phase Matrix can be created in MS Excel. In a cross functional team meeting:

  • Identify the key functions within the project team
  • Customize the template to reflect your organization’s product development phases
  • Define the objective of each phase (this can be the exit criteria for each phase)
  • Within each phase, identify the key deliverable for each function

What Else You Should Know The matrix has limitations. First, the tool doesn’t include all functions and deliverables. It is primarily focused on functions that are on the project core team. Second, companies should consider the matrix as just the beginning of process definition. Ultimately, the organization must define the roles/ responsibilities of team members and the specifics of the deliverables by creating the appropriate templates and examples.