No matter what project size, job descriptions should be clearly defined. Whether it’s a 5-person team or an international collaboration, everyone needs to understand their role: that being the tasks and activities each person must complete. One way to define each team member’s role is to use a RACI matrix. An example of a responsibility assignment matrix, it shows the expense at the lowest level of work for the purpose of managing cost and duration. It is a charting system that illustrates the task’s goal and the required action for each person. This assists with reducing confusion on expectations, in turn, increasing project efficiency. In this context, decisions are made more quickly, accountability is clear and workload is evenly distributed. But wait, is the RACI matrix the be-all and end-all? I will let you know what the project management professionals think. But first…
If you would like to explicitly communicate on a project, the RACI matrix can help with that. RACI organizes your project so that everyone knows what’s happening. With RACI, map out who is Responsible, is Accountable, must be Consulted with, and shall stay Informed.
Lets break it down further. Here is what your project delegation looks like with RACI.
Responsible – Who is completing the task.
Accountable – Who is making decisions and taking actions on the task(s).
Consulted – Who will be communicated with regarding decisions and tasks.
Informed – Who will be updated on decisions and actions during the project.
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Even the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK Guide) has a section for RACI under matrix-based charts. The PMBOK uses RACI as an example of a Responsibility Assignment Matrix, RAM. A RAM serves the purpose of showing which activities belong to each team member.
For more information about the PMBOK Guide, we wrote an article for you.
Let’s understand RACI better with a simplified example. John is developing software feature X that will be integrated with software feature Y – developed by Jess. Mike is the project manager and Irina is in marketing. For feature X, John is responsible, Mike is accountable, and Jess needs to be consulted with as her feature will integrate with John’s. Lastly, Irina simply needs to be informed when the task is complete.
What Makes RACI Useful?
It informs the organisation about its employees workload as it shows which role(s) are assigned to each person. For example, the organisation can see if someone has been placed in the responsible role too many times or not. In other words, does this person have a lot or a too few tasks to complete. That way, the organisation knows whether someone has too many or could take-on more responsibilities.
Use RACI for the successful completion of a project as everyone impacted is in the loop. This reduces miscommunication and increases productivity. So, if a task was incorrectly completed RACI tells you who was involved and ultimately accountable.
In short, RACI makes it easier for you to have the right conversation with the right people. In turn, saving everyone time.
RACI Users: What do The PMs Think of this type of responsibility assignment matrix?
- It’sConfusing. Working with this matrix can lead to confusion about required actions:
- This tool explains each person’s role, but the necessary action(s) for each role can be unclear. Some feel that it’s not clear whether the responsible or accountable plans the task. With that being said, you could look at RACI in this way – apply the matrix as deemed necessary. You choose if the responsible or the accountable plans the task.
- The consult role is unclear. The project manager and the person consulted need to decide whether the consulted will only give direction when asked or whether they will offer direction when they feel it is suitable, and make sure their input is implemented.
- It won’t fix a dysfunctional team. PM’s feel that the RACI matrix will not fix a team that has poor moral. Before RACI can be effective, you must have a team that has no issues. RACI is not a tool that fixes a dysfunctional team. RACI improves communication flow in a cohesive group.
- Is the responsible not accountable? There’s the impression that it’s the case as it is a separate role, hence, a different person. To reiterate, some feel that if the accountable and responsible are different people it means that the responsible is not accountable for his/her actions. Alternatively, this could be sorted-out between these two roles.
- RACI’s Variations and Alternatives – More Confusion or Benefits? Depending on the setup of the project team, the RACI matrix has variations and alternatives. PMs criticize these because they feel that the variations/alternatives are trying to compensate for the matrix’s original design. If it had been designed well, one version of the matrix would suffice. On the other hand, having alternatives/variations to choose from means that the matrix is flexible to the team’s needs.
- RACI is a tool to organize team members in accordance with the goal of the project. If there are aspects of RACI that are too vague, consider that as an opportunity for the PM to think outside the “matrix”, aka box, and adapt this tool to his/her team – providing that is suitable.
- How PMs have used RACI
Professionals in the PM field have found that they have benefited from using the RACI matrix by following these 6 steps:
- List of project tasks
- Identify project stakeholders
- Know the responsible and accountable for each task along with its stakeholders
- At least one stakeholder accountable for every task
- Only one accountable stakeholder
- The final step includes a discussion with all the stakeholder and will be explained in the next part of this article. This is to ensure that the stakeholders understands their role. This is a recommended use of RACI for IT projects.
- Good for scrum teams?
Here is an example of how one PM used RACI in a scrum context. To meet the goal of the project, he added F to RACI: Facilitate activities. To summarize, the person in the F role, Facilitate, organized the activities for the scrum project as illustrated in the image below. The use of RACI in a scrum context stimulated an interesting discussion between PM professionals. Some felt that this model would provide recognition of a job well done, or blame of a poorly executed job, to one person – impacting team cohesion. This way of organizing would impact the fundamentals of Scrum – self organization. Counter arguments included, one must consider the extent to which RACI is applied. To use RACI to its potential, it is suggested that you find a balance between ridged roles and responsibilities, and flexibility in a self organizing team. Is that possible?
PlanHammer – RACI Matrix software
Interested in a project management software that has a RACI Matrix + Work Breakdown Structure, then checkout PlanHammer – a combination of classical and agile tools with a Kanban board.
How to Make RACI Work for You
As noted above this type of responsibility assignment matrix is effective. To know how to apply this model you should analyse, analyse, analyse! Balance is your key to success with RACI. If there are too many or not enough people in each role it slows down the completion of your project tasks or even prevents completion.
To use RACI effectively make sure to have:
- One accountable per task. If you have more than one, it would be like having multiple people driving a car. It doesn’t work! If there is no driver, it will be hard to get that car to move forward – no decisions or action are taken on the project.
- The right amount of people responsible. Too many people assigned to the same task, and you have an excellent way to waste time. You also may get duplicate work. If you have a quick and simple task, the responsible could also be the accountable.
- Do not have too many consults: it could slow the task completion. If you need to consult with several people before completing your task, you have yourself another time waster. Or, conflicting input on how to complete the task.
- Keep people Informed. Perhaps you don’t need to consult with people, you simply need to update them. Make sure you have people in this role otherwise you could have problems relating to a lack of communication.
How do you get the right balance with RACI?
Make it a collaborative effort. Everyone should be comfortable with each role that they and their counterparts have. In short, improve communication and efficiency with the RACI matrix. Used to it’s potential, everyone wins. You will stop receiving unnecessary information, like an abundance of emails that you may not need to read. You will also increase job satisfaction with clearly defined roles.
RACI Videos: What You Need to Know
These first two videos provide you a short snippet of how RACI can work for you. Looking for a longer explanation? Watch video 3.
1. This a 5 minute video regarding the basics of RACI and how the program can benefit your organisation.
Ready to Make Your Own RACI chart?
2. This video shows you how in just 1 minute
3. Take it even further with this video. This 20 minute video will walk you through how RACI will help you manage matters related to efficiency, accountability and role clarification. After you answer questions relating to your organisation, this RACI video takes you through a hypothetical situation about what it would look like if no one completed a task, and how RACI can manage it.
In sum, it’s evident that a well organised team is crucial to successfully complete a project. A responsibility assignment matrix is advantageous, if not paramount, in achieving this. RACI has proven to be beneficial, yet it has its drawbacks. Still, consider that with any PM tool finding the one that works the best for you is key. I hope this article was beneficial. And now it’s your turn, I would like to hear from you. Have you used RACI? What has been your experience?
A responsibility assignment matrix (RAM), also known as RACI matrix or linear responsibility chart (LRC), describes the participation by various roles in completing tasks or deliverables for a project or business process. It is especially useful in clarifying roles and responsibilities in cross-functional/departmental projects and processes.
RACI is an acronym derived from the four key responsibilities most typically used: Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, and Informed.
Key responsibility roles (RACI model )
R=Responsible, A=Accountable, C=Consulted, I=Informed
- Responsible (also Recommender)
- Those who do the work to achieve the task. There is at least one role with a participation type of responsible, although others can be delegated to assist in the work required (see also RASCI below for separately identifying those who participate in a supporting role).
- Accountable (also Approver or final approving authority)
- The one ultimately answerable for the correct and thorough completion of the deliverable or task, and the one who delegates the work to those responsible. In other words, an accountable must sign off (approve) work that responsible provides. There must be only one accountable specified for each task or deliverable.
- Consulted (sometimes Consultant or counsel)
- Those whose opinions are sought, typically subject matter experts; and with whom there is two-way communication.
- Informed (also Informee)
- Those who are kept up-to-date on progress, often only on completion of the task or deliverable; and with whom there is just one-way communication.
Very often the role that is accountable for a task or deliverable may also be responsible for completing it (indicated on the matrix by the task or deliverable having a role accountable for it, but no role responsible for its completion, i.e. it is implied). Outside of this exception, it is generally recommended that each role in the project or process for each task receive, at most, just one of the participation types. Where more than one participation type is shown, this generally implies that participation has not yet been fully resolved, which can impede the value of this technique in clarifying the participation of each role on each task.
There is a distinction between a role and individually identified people: a role is a descriptor of an associated set of tasks; may be performed by many people; and one person can perform many roles. For example, an organization may have ten people who can perform the role of project manager, although traditionally each project only has one project manager at any one time; and a person who is able to perform the role of project manager may also be able to perform the role of business analyst and tester.
Assigning people to facilities
The matrix is typically created with a vertical axis (left-hand column) of tasks (from a work breakdown structure) or deliverables (from a product breakdown structure), and a horizontal axis (top row) of roles (from an organizational chart).
|Code||Name||Project sponsor||Business analyst||Project manager||Technical architect||Applications development|
|Stage A||Manage sales|
|Stage B||Assess job|
|Stage C||Initiate project|
|- C04||Security governance (draft)||C||C||A||I||I|
|- C10||Functional requirements||A||R||I||C||I|
|- C11||Business acceptance criteria||A||R||I||C||I|
|Stage D||Design solution|
Another example from the maintenance and reliability community
There are a number of alternatives to the RACI participation types:
- This is an early version of a Responsibility Assignment Matrix, with the roles defined as:
- Review Required
- Input Required
- Sign-off Required
- This is a version very useful to organizations where the output of activities under the accountability of a single person/function can be reviewed and vetoed by multiple stakeholders, due to the collaborative nature of the culture.
- The person/function carrying out the activity.
- The person/function ultimately answerable for the correct and thorough completion of the deliverable or task, and often the one who delegates the work to the performer.
- The person/function reviewing the result of the activity (other than the accountable). He or she has a right of veto; his or her advice is binding.
- The person/function consulted to give advice based upon recognized expertise. The advice is non-binding.
- The person/function who must be informed of the result of the activity.
- This is an expanded version of the standard RACI, less frequently known as RASCI, breaking the responsible participation into:
- Those responsible for the task, who ensure that it is done as per the approver
- Resources allocated to responsible. Unlike consulted, who may provide input to the task, support helps complete the task.
- This is an alternative version of the standard RACI, foregoing the consulted participation and replacing it with:
- Resources which play a supporting role in implementation.
- This is an expanded version of the standard RACI, with an additional participation type:
- Quality Review
- Those who check whether the product meets the quality requirements.
- This is an expanded version of the standard RACI, with two additional participation types:
- Those who check whether the product meets the acceptance criteria set forth in the product description.
- Those who approve the verify decision and authorize the product hand-off. It seems to make sense that the signatory should be the party being accountable for its success.
- This is an expanded version, of the standard RACI, also known as RACIO with one additional participation type.
- Out of the loop (or omitted)
- Designating individuals or groups who are specifically not part of the task. Specifying that a resource does not participate can be as beneficial to a task's completion as specifying those who do participate.
- Another version that has been used to centralize decision making, and clarify who can re-open discussions.
- A single driver of overall project like the person steering a car.
- One or more approvers who make most project decisions, and are responsible if it fails.
- Are the worker-bees who are responsible for deliverables; and with whom there is two-way communication.
- Those who are impacted by the project and are provided status and informed of decisions; and with whom there is one-way communication.
- Another tool used to clarify decision roles and thereby improve decision making overall is RAPID®, which was created by and is a registered trademark of Bain & Company.
- The Recommend role typically involves 80 percent of the work in a decision. The recommender gathers relevant input and proposes a course of action—sometimes alternative courses, complete with pros and cons so that the decision maker's choices are as clear, simple and timely as possible.
- The Agree role represents a formal approval of a recommendation. The 'A' and the 'R' should work together to come to a mutually satisfactory proposal to bring forward to the Decider. But not all decisions will need an Agree role, as this is typically reserved for those situations where some form of regulatory or compliance sign-off is required.
- The Perform role defines who is accountable for executing or implementing the decision once it is made. Best-practice companies typically define P's and gather input from them early in the process
- The Input role provides relevant information and facts so that the Recommender and Decider can assess all the relevant facts to make the right decision. However, the 'I' role is strictly advisory. Recommenders should consider all input, but they don't have to reflect every point of view in the final recommendation.
- The Decide role is for the single person who ultimately is accountable for making the final decision, committing the group to action and ensuring the decision gets implemented.
- Another tool used in organisation design or roles analysis.
- Identify who is in charge of making sure the work is done.
- Identify who has final decision power on the work.
- Identify who actually does the work.
- Identify who is involved to provide support to the work.
- Identify who is informed that the work has been done (or will be started)
- A variant of RASCI developed by three Whitehall theorists (Kane, Jackson, Gilbert). This scheme is adapted for use in matrix management environments, and differs only from RASCI in having an additional role of Driver and a narrower definition of Support:
- An individual or party that assists those who are Responsible for delivering a task by both producing supporting collateral and setting timescales for delivery in line with the overarching aim of the individual or party who is Accountable for the overall accomplishment of the objective. The distinction between Driver and Support lies in that the former reinforces and clarifies the parameters of the task on behalf of those who are Accountable, while the latter refers to those who help those who are Responsible in reaching a given goal.
There are also a number of variations to the meaning of RACI participation types:
RACI (alternative scheme)
- There is an alternative coding, less widely published but used by some practitioners and process mapping software, which modifies the application of the R and A codes of the original scheme. The overall methodology remains the same but this alternative avoids potential confusion of the terms accountable and responsible, which may be understood by management professionals but not always so clearly differentiated by others:
- Those responsible for the performance of the task. There should be exactly one person with this assignment for each task.
- Those who assist completion of the task
- Those whose opinions are sought; and with whom there is two-way communication.
- Those who are kept up-to-date on progress; and with whom there is one-way communication.
- This alternative is focused only on documenting who has the authority to make which decisions. This can work across all sized work groups.
- Authorized to approve an answer to the decision.
- Responsible to recommend an answer to the decision.
- Those whose opinions are sought; and with whom there is two-way communication.
- Those who are informed after the decision is made; and with whom there is one-way communication.
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