Actors, Roles and Responsibilities

In the Dragon1 modeling language (Dragon1) we define organizations, units, actors, roles and responsibilities as different entity classes next to functions, processes, activities and tasks, so architects are able to design processes and IT support for processes or even digitize processes in a controlled way, using concepts, principles and standards.

  • Actor: An actor is an entity that is a participant in a process and/or a user of a system. Example: A person, animal, plant, robot, application, organization or system are examples of actors.
  • Role: A role is a position that an actor has in a process. According to their role, actors are expected to perform certain tasks (their responsibilities). Example: Shopper is a common process role in the process of buying items on a webshop. The Actor, in this case, is f.i. the anonymous website visitor or identified target client group member.
  • Responsibility: A responsibility is the set of tasks, activities or actions an actor is expected to perform, or allowed to do, according to the role. Example: The responsibility of an Elderly Woman (Actor) as Shopper (Role) on a webshop (System) is to Register for the Webshop (Task), Add Items to A Cart (Task) and To Pay For the Items (Task)
These entities are related in the metamodel below:
dragon1 meta model actors, roles and responsibilities

This visualization shows the Roles package of the Dragon1 Meta Model. The Dragon1 Meta Model consists of layers and layers consist of packages (or sections). The Dragon1 Meta Model has a core and extensions. The core and extensions are groups of sections of layers.

In Dragon1 responsibility is defined so one can create groups of activities and tasks as identifiable responsibilities for certain roles.

Suppose we have a department in a company with a manager, teams and every team has a developer, analyst and tester. These people all make use of an online Design Management System (DMS). Every team has a team leader, based on the person with the most experience. Manager, team, developer, analyst and tester are organizational functions we call actors for the DMS.

Team leader and team member are roles on the department.

Suppose we have a process of design with 6 activities that iterate in cycles: Define Problem, Collect Information, Brainstorm and Analyze Ideas, Develop Solutions and Build a Model, Present your Ideas to others for Feedback, Improve your Design.

In every activity of this process people are expected to carry out certain tasks, based on the position they have in the process. That is what we call 'responsibility'.

Examples of tasks carried out on the department are:

  • Entering a new problem in the online Design Management System
  • Releasing funding for building a model
  • Creating a presentation

It is the responsibility of the manager of release funding for building a model that goes with a developed solution (om paper).

It is the responsibility of the team leader to create a presentation for a design.

It is the responsibility of each team to create one design per month.

Modeling Actors, Roles and Responsibilities

Below is a model shows a relationship between actors, roles and responsibilities.

actors, roles, responsibilities model

With these responsibilities made clear, as associated tasks in the process, we can apply principles and standards onto this. And then we can make sure or report that all responsibilities comply (or not) with the principles and standards. For example, if principle team members are not budget holders, but senior managers are, to optimize spending, then this example model is compliant with that principle.