Implementing AoRs - Introduction: Why Should You Implement AoRs?

When everyone owns a process or task, no one really does. And with no one officially in charge, don’t expect to get good results.

AoRs are a simple, yet powerful tool that addresses this exact problem. They make sure everything important is owned by one person in your team. They clarify who owns what, how things get done, and bring transparency across all teams.

Implementing AoRs starts with listing what each person in your organization is responsible for and reworking that list until you have covered all core aspects of your company and have one person owning each item. The AoR list then becomes a tool helping you visualize and manage ownership across teams and individuals.

In this series of blog articles dedicated to AoRs we will zoom in on this management concept and give you actionable advice to help you successfully implement these with your team.

In this first article we want to introduce you to the concept of AoRs and convince you - if you haven’t yet - to implement AoRs in your organization.

Let’s go!

What are AoRs?

AoRs stands for “Areas of Responsibility”. AoRs allow you to capture and distribute responsibilities within your organization.

They work as follows: each AoR has a unique owner. The owner of the AoR is responsible - among other things - for the following:

  • Scope: clearly defining what the AoR is about, where it starts and where it ends.
  • Point of contact: being the first point of contact for any related issues and questions.
  • Documentation: keeping an up-to-date documentation of how things are done to manage this work area.
  • Decisions: making final decisions related to the AoR.
  • Outcomes: owning the results attributable to the AoR.

Additionally, one or multiple contributors can support the owner on the execution part. This means the owner does not need to do all the work; if they need extra help, they should get it from contributors, whose work they then have to coordinate.

A first example

Here is a first example of an AoR from the Sales department:

Dwight is owning this AoR and is deputy Jim will take over if needed. The responsibility at hand is producing and sharing the Sales performance metrics every week. Everything around this AoR is managed by them:

  • Here the scope will revolve around the reporting format, who it is shared with, via which medium, etc.
  • They are first point of contact in case any questions or feedback regarding this reporting
  • They must maintain at least some documentation explaining how this report is created; they might as well have to document how certain metrics are calculated and what they mean.
  • They decide on potential changes to reporting process and format.
  • They own the outcome: first, the reporting must be created and shared on time. But beyond that, the purpose of such reporting is that everyone in Sales gets a clear picture of where they stand.

Why should companies implement AoRs?

There is a reason why implementing AoRs has become common practice in fast growing tech companies: they come with many benefits.

  • AoRs distribute ownership: with them you can go beyond the org chart and delegate responsibilities to everyone. Give every person in your team the opportunity to own something and show what they can do with it.
  • AoRs bring clarity: listing AoRs and sharing them publicly within your organization brings transparency and can help prevent silos of work. They force teams into defining their scope of influence and aligning with each other on ownership distribution on overlapping areas.
  • AoRs force everyone to level up: with everyone owning something and having to assume the responsibilities of the owner, soon enough people doing a great job with their AoR will become visible. And inspire others to do the same for theirs.
  • AoRs help visualize roles in your organization: looking at someone’s AoRs will give you an accurate picture of their actual responsibilities. From there it is then easier to evaluate which ones they should let go of, and which ones would make sense for them to take on.

AoRs set a standard on how to operate across all teams and hold everyone accountable. These benefits compound as your organization and the complexity of your daily operations grow.

In the next articles we will outline how you can start implementing AoRs and distributing ownership across your organization. Stay tuned!