A RACI chart helps to define roles and responsibilities for individuals or teams to ensure work gets done efficiently. It creates clear roles and gives direction to each team member. There are four types of participation included in a RACI chart. These are:
- Responsible: refers to those doing the work to complete the task.
- Individuals who are assigned the “responsible” role for a task are the ones who are actually doing the work to complete the task. Every task needs at least one responsible party. It’s best practice to try to limit the number of team members assigned to a task’s responsible role, but in some cases, you may have more than one.
- A couple of questions to ask yourself when determining which person or people should be placed in the responsible role for a given task are:
- What department does the work fall under?
- Who will perform the work?
- Who is responsible for completing this task?
- Accountable: refers to those making sure the work gets done.
- The “accountable” person is responsible for making sure the task gets done. It is important to have only one individual accountable for each task. This helps clarify ownership of the task. The accountable person ultimately has the authority to approve the deliverable of the responsible party.
- In order to determine who should be tagged as the accountable team member, consider:
- Who will delegate the task to be completed?
- Who will review the work to determine if the task is complete?
- Who is accountable if the task isn’t completed?
- Who might delegate the task to another team member?
- Who makes final decisions about the task?
- Who should review the work to confirm it is complete?
- You may encounter a situation where the responsible party is also accountable, but where possible, it is helpful to separate these roles. Ensuring that accountability is not shared ensures that there is no confusion about who the ownership belongs.
- Consulted: includes those giving feedback, like subject matter experts or decision-makers.
- Team members or stakeholders who are placed in the “consulted” role have useful information to help complete the task. There is no maximum or a minimum number of people who can be assigned a “consulted” role, but it’s important that each person has a reason for being there.
- Here are a few ways you can help identify who is appropriate for the role:
- Who should be consulted for their insights, expertise, or strong opinions on the task?
- Who will the task impact?
- Who will have input or feedback for the responsible person to help the work be completed?
- Who are the subject matter experts (SMEs) for the task?
- The consulted people will be infrequent, two-way communication with the responsible party, so it is key to make sure that the right people are in this role to help accomplish the task efficiently and correctly.
- Informed: which includes those just needing to know the final decisions or that a task is complete.
- Individuals who are identified as needing to be “informed” need to know the final decisions that were made and when a task is completed. It is common to have many people assigned to this category and for some team members to be informed on most tasks. Team members or stakeholders here will not be asked for feedback, so it is key to make sure people who are in this group only require status updates and do not need to provide any direct feedback for the completion of the effort.
- Key questions to ask yourself in order to ensure that you have appropriately captured individuals in the “informed” role are:
- Who should be kept informed about task progress or project decisions?
- Who cares about this task’s completion?
- Who is invested in task completion but not directly involved in the work?
- Who will be affected by the outcome?
- You could end up with a large number of team members and stakeholders who are placed in the “informed” role. If so, make sure that you have a plan to keep them informed that is not labour-intensive. Something as easy as view-only access to your project plan or meeting notes could prevent you from having to create separate communications along the way.
The RACI chart is a valuable tool. It can help you define and document project roles and responsibilities, give direction to each team member and stakeholder and ensure work gets done efficiently. A RACI chart can also help you analyze and balance the workload of your team. While it may take many revisions to make sure that your team members and stakeholders are being placed into the right roles in your RACI chart, doing this work upfront helps save time and prevent miscommunications later on.
When creating your RACI chart, you need to write down each task or deliverable for your project, and then assign it the appropriate role for each stakeholder.
- To do this, first, think about who’s involved in the project. Write the roles or people’s names in a row across the top of your chart.
- Use roles rather than names if some people might take on more than one role.
- Next, write down the tasks or deliverables in a column on the left. Try not to get too specific here. You want the chart to be simple and easy to read.
- After that, go through each task and deliverable and ask: Who’s responsible for doing this? Who’s accountable if it doesn’t get done? Who will have strong opinions to add, and therefore, should be consulted about how this gets done? And who needs to be informed of the progress or decisions made about this? Assign the letters R, A, C, and I based on your answers.
- It’s possible there are several roles that fall into the “informed” and “consulted” categories. One thing that will always remain constant is there will never be more than one person designated as “accountable.”
- This prevents confusion because having one person accountable clearly defines ownership. However, the same person that is “accountable” may also be “responsible.”
- There are several other factors that can cause role confusion. For example, there might be unbalanced workloads, which means some people might be doing more work or less work than others on the team. Or there could be an unclear hierarchy when people aren’t sure who to seek help from if a task doesn’t get done or unclear ownership of decisions where people aren’t sure who makes the final call on a project.
- Another issue could be overlapping work. This is when teams or individuals feel that they’re responsible for the same work. When this happens, things can get confusing fast. And the same goes for excessive communication. While communication is usually a good thing, too much communication can actually make things more complicated. It can cause information overload where people don’t know what to pay attention to, and so they miss something important.
The number of stakeholders you keep informed about each task can vary depending on your situation. In some cases, you might choose to inform all stakeholders who aren’t responsible, accountable, or consulted. In others, you could leave some cells in your RACI chart blank for certain tasks. Both approaches are fine for this activity.
A RACI chart can be an extremely effective way to define project roles, give direction to each team member and stakeholder, and ensure work gets done efficiently. Having a RACI chart available throughout the duration of your project as a quick visual can be invaluable.
You may hear a RACI chart referred to as a Responsibility Assignment Matrix (RAM), RACI diagram, or RACI matrix. The ultimate goal of this chart is to clarify each person’s role in your project.
- R: Responsible: who gets the work done
- A: Accountable: who makes sure the work is done
- C: Consulted: who gives input or feedback on work
- I: Informed: who needs to know the outcome
Note that RACI charts can be organized in different ways, depending on personal preference, number of tasks being assigned, and number of people involved.
Determining who is Responsible, Accountable, Consulted and Informed on your projects allows you to keep control of the stakeholder’s roles in your project.
Are there too many tasks assigned to one stakeholder? When you complete your chart, it is a good idea to go back through and tally the number of Rs assigned to each stakeholder. This can help you identify potentially overloading one team member with work. Using a RACI chart to determine responsibility for tasks can help mitigate single points of failure (known as creating silos, where the knowledge and responsibility for a task fall on one person) and allow you, as the project manager, to delegate tasks and avoid burnout. Maintaining workload balance is a critical part of project management. It is easy to fall into the pattern of relying on your top performers to keep the project moving forward. But this isn’t always healthy for the project or your team. If you find that you don’t have the right people to assign responsibilities to, take a step back and evaluate your team.
Put your RACI into practice
Once you have created your RACI chart, it is time to put it into practice. You will first need to share your RACI chart with your sponsors and stakeholders to get buy-in and sign-off. When you get stakeholder buy-in, you will be able to set clear expectations for your team and ensure that everyone is aligned on their responsibilities.
- You can document your team and stakeholders’ acknowledgement of these expectations through the project charter, meeting notes, and the RACI chart itself.
As you take the time to ensure that each task has an owner identified with the appropriate level of engagement, you are streamlining your communication and decision-making process over the life cycle of your project.
If you are wondering if you should use a RACI chart on your project, it is a good idea to evaluate the complexity of the effort. For example, if you have a very small project team with a small number of stakeholders, clearly defined roles, and a short timeline, introducing a RACI chart could possibly slow down the project. However, larger projects, or even projects that involve a large number of stakeholders, could greatly benefit from a RACI chart. It is always a good idea to work through the creation of a RACI chart and evaluate the outcome. Even if you do not end up using the RACI chart, you will have a better understanding of the project, and your effort will contribute to your project management experience overall.