Can you honestly say that you know exactly who’s responsible for each task, milestone, and deliverable involved in your project? If your answer to that is a resounding no, then you’ll probably benefit from a RACI chart.
RACI—an acronym for Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, and Informed—helps teams to clarify project roles and determine who or which team is responsible for a given task. Whether today is the first time that you’ve ever come across the term RACI or you’re in the middle of conducting research with a view to creating a RACI chart for your next project, we’ve covered everything that you need to know about the what, the why, and the how of using and creating them.
What is a RACI Chart?
A RACI matrix chart, also known as the responsibility assignment matrix (RAM), is a project management tool that teams use to identify which individuals or groups are responsible for a project, and the level of responsibility or influence that they hold.
In a RACI chart, one individual or team is assigned to each of the four elements. Let’s look at each of these in further detail.
- Responsible—This individual holds overall responsibility for a particular task. Each task should only ever have one Responsible person so that it is clear to others involved in the project where they should direct their queries. Appointing multiple Responsible persons runs the risk of
- Accountable—This individual is responsible for overseeing the completion of a task, though they’re not necessarily the person doing the work. It’s often the case that the Accountable person is the project manager, but it can also be another senior leader who’s responsible for reviewing and approving work prior to completion. Again, there should only be one Accountable person.
- Consulted—This individual is the person responsible for reviewing and signing off on any work before it is delivered. Unlike with Responsible and Accountable, there can be several Consulted roles for each individual task or deliverable within a project because it might be necessary for any number of stakeholders to give their approval before a project can be considered complete.
- Informed—This individual is the person who’s kept informed about a task’s progress over time, such as a key leader or stakeholder who is not involved directly in the project or any other aspect of its tasks. It can also be a group of people.
When to use a RACI Chart
The RACI chart framework is useful for any project-based work. That said, there are some types of projects for which it will be more useful than others, such as those that are long-lasting and involve multiple tasks, teams, deliverables, or stakeholders.
RACI charts are particularly useful if there are people involved in a project who are taking on different roles as time passes by. For example, one individual might be the Responsible person for one task but the Accountable person for another. This tends to happen where multiple teams with overlapping responsibilities are involved in the deliverables.
In essence, a RACI chart helps to prevent poor decision-making and avoids slowdowns in the approvals process that could have an impact on the overall success of a project. RACI charts also help project managers to avoid missing important details and to ensure clear communication throughout the project lifecycle.
As a project manager, you might consider using a RACI chart when:
- Decision-making is holding up the progress of your project.
- There are conflicts over task ownership.
- The project’s workload feels unevenly distributed.
- There’s high team turnover and you need to onboard people quickly.
Getting the Most Out of Your RACI Chart
In an ideal world, you would spend some time sitting down with your team and walking them through their role assignments for each individual task. Let’s be honest though… that’s not going to happen. We live in a world that’s far from ideal, after all.
That said, you need to ensure that everyone on it has acknowledged and agreed to their roles and responsibilities. This, along with the following best practices, will help you get the most out of your RACI chart.
- Your RACI chart should focus exclusively on tasks and decisions; avoid generic administrative tasks such as to-dos and status reports.
- Your tasks should be aligned with your project plan to avoid confusion surrounding details and due dates.
- Avoid assigning too many stakeholders as this can cause delays; only assign responsibilities where necessary.
- Ensure that responsibilities match qualifications before making somebody accountable for a task. This avoids assigning people to tasks that are above their skill level while also ensuring that your most skilled team members aren’t given tasks that are lower than theirs.
- Projects evolve over time, so ensure that your RACI chart is flexible enough to be updated easily. If you do make changes, inform participants and provide an updated matrix immediately to avoid any potential issues from arising.
RACI Chart Pros and Cons
Although RACI charts are a very useful tool for project management, like any other tool they have their pros and cons, and you should account for these during your decision-making process.
The major benefit of using a RACI chart is how clear it makes project roles and responsibilities. This can help your team move more quickly and eliminate confusion around who’s responsible for doing what. With a RACI chart, you also avoid two or more team members working on the same thing, which streamlines collaborations. Where decision-making processes are split between tasks (i.e., where a person is the Responsible person on one task and the Informed person on another), RACI charts can help you keep on top of individuals’ roles.
There are some drawbacks, though. RACI charts have a granular rather than project-level focus. For instance, you might know who the Accountable or Consulted person(s) are for a particular task, but knowing this doesn’t help you understand how these stakeholders are involved with the broader project. RACI charts can also become bloated over time as each task and role is added to the chart. And if your project changes, RACI charts become outdated. This can make gaining real-time information more difficult if the chart isn’t diligently kept current.
RACI Charts in Action
To create a RACI chart, first, note down every task and deliverable that’s involved in your project, and then identify who the Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, and Informed people (or teams!) are for each one.
Let’s say that you’re producing a blog post. Your RACI chart might look something like this:
- Responsible: Content writer
- Accountable: Marketing executive
- Consulted: Marketing lead
- Informed: Web development lead
Or perhaps you’re updating the design of your website’s homepage. Your RACI chart might instead look like this:
- Responsible: UI designer
- Accountable: Web developer
- Consulted: Web development lead
- Informed: Copywriter
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