RACI matrix: Still assigning responsibility and increasing project visibility in 2019

Sometimes projects tend to have a mind of their own. While roles and responsibilities may be clear at kick off, as time passes and we get more deeply involved with the work, it might become unclear who should be consulted for a certain task or who’s the one to provide final validation of the work done. That’s why we can’t get enough of the RACI matrix: it’s a simple way to define levels of involvement by team members on a project.

What is a RACI matrix?

illustration of what RACI stands for

It’s a straightforward charting technique which clearly states which team members have which obligations concerning a project or a task.

Let’s start with the deciphering.   

R = Responsible

  • This person is assigned to do the work
  • At least one person must be assigned
  • “The doer”

A = Accountable

  • This person has the authority to assign/delegate work to the Rs
  • This person is ultimately answerable for the completion of the work
  • This is usually one person

C = Consulted

  • This person must be consulted before the work
  • This person is usually a Subject Mater Expert

I = Informed

  • This person should be told about the work’s results

Why do we like the RACI matrix?

When the RACI model is implemented on a project, it sets clear expectations for project-based communication. Even better, if you have the possibility to chart a RACI on specific tasks, then you’ll have a map for future decision-making processes and task execution.

A RACI matrix helps by:

  • Streamlining communication by identifying who really needs to be involved in decisions.
  • Providing timely updates to the right people and avoiding information overload.
  • Ensuring tasks are evenly distributed among the team.
  • Set clear expectations about how the project will be managed, along with individual roles and responsibilities.
  • Reduce points of failure by eliminating work silos and uncertainty around key decisions.

How to implement the RACI on a project?

At first, you’ll need to identify all the tasks and activities needed to complete the project scope. Then, open up a new spreadsheet and list those tasks in the left-hand column of your matrix. Focus on tasks, milestones and key decisions. Everyday activities such as meetings do not need to be included in the RACI model.

Name the other columns by the role project team members have on the project, or, you can use their actual names if you want to be less formal. The important thing is not to forget any participant and assign their responsibility carefully and in accordance with the true nature of their work.

illustration of a RACI matrix with assignments

RACI matrix variations: Other responsibility assignment models

If needed, the RACI matrix can be broadened to be more accurate in defining team member responsibilities. Here are some simple variations to consider.

RASIC

The usual 4 RACI associations (Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, Informed) with the inclusion of a 5th association: Supportive. This refers to individuals or groups that are assigned to help the “Responsible” party.

CAIRO

RACI associations (Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, Informed) with a 5th association Omitted included. These are the individuals or groups who are not involved with a task. This can really help bring clarity to the ownership of roles.

RACI-VS

This is the 4 normal RACI associations (Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, Informed) with the inclusion of two more associations: Verify and Sign-off.

Verify refers to the testing or review of a task as a final check to see if it has been completed properly.

Sign-off gives the seal of approval that the work has been successfully completed. It is advised that these two extra steps used only when necessary to avoid delays.

The benefits of using the RACI model in project management are multiple, and we already listed some of them in this article. But the one thing we would like to point out is communication. The RACI encourages communication between roles and allows clear understanding of expectations, which results in a smooth project – there lies the true value of this project management tool.

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