Save Your Troubled Project By Using The RACI Matrix

November 16, 2022

Group of people with their hands stacked on top of each other

Conflicts over responsibilities can torpedo a project.  The RACI matrix is a simple method of assigning roles within a team. It’s adaptable even for the most complicated projects and can be used for a single team or multiple teams completing different phases of the project.

What is the RACI Matrix?

RACI is an acronym for the four roles that stakeholders hold in a project:

      • » Responsible
      • » Accountable
      • » Consulted
      • » Informed

Each task, milestone, and significant decision has a RACI assignment, as does the project overall. For example, Team 1 may be the responsible party for phase one, and Team 2 is responsible for Phase 2, with individual RACI assignments within the teams. The overall project manager often plays the Consulted role for the entire effort.

The RACI matrix works so well because there is a shared understanding of who has which role and what the role entails regarding responsibility for an assignment and communication. There’s explicit documentation supporting the duties of each role. Eliminating confusion about the responsibility hierarchy allows your teams to focus on their tasks.

Defining RACI Roles and responsibilities

The RACI model’s structure and clarity lie in defining each of the four roles and ensuring that someone is assigned to each.

      • » Responsible: people tasked to complete certain duties and make certain decisions; several people may be jointly responsible
      • » Accountable: The “owner” of the work, who approves each task as completed. Assign responsibilities for the project in the matrix. Only one person is accountable and is the final approver for each task, ensuring it’s complete and correct
      • » Consulted: stakeholders who need to clarify or give input before work commences and is completed – “in the loop” active participants
      • » Informed: must be kept informed of progress but don’t need to be consulted. They do not contribute directly to the project

Creating a RACI Mix

Creating a RACI mix for each project is fairly straightforward. Before you assign roles, break the project down into the tasks required to complete it and form a list. This works best if you use a table format. Then, you’ll identify roles for each step:

      • » List all stakeholders in the project in a column along the top
      • » For each task, identify the role of each stakeholder under their column (R, A, C, or I)
      • » Each task must have at least one stakeholder, although certain tasks may have multiple stakeholders, BUT
      • » No task should have more than one individual Accountable
      • » Discuss the RACI matrix with your teams and stakeholders before beginning the project to resolve any conflicts or to make clarifications

Making the Most Out of the RACI Model

Just making a chart isn’t enough. RACI doesn’t work effectively if there are still conflicts about responsibilities or confusion in roles. To help resolve conflict among stakeholders, look carefully at your completed chart across each row and down each column to determine:

      • » Do one or more stakeholders have too much responsibility allocated to them?
      • » Are there empty cells?
      • » Should you change nay “responsible” to “consulted”? – that is, does each “R” have an active role in that particular task?
      • » Does each stakeholder agree with their roles and responsibilities as assigned?

For the project as a whole, do you have the right people in the right places, and do you have enough people involved in each step to keep things rolling? Remember, make sure that you have someone accountable for each step, so there isn’t conflict over the final decision rights.

Conclusion

RACI can be an effective method of assigning responsibility but may need a little practice before your teams are fully comfortable with this model. When you first introduce it, make sure that you oversee the project carefully, stepping in to redirect your teams back to the matrix.

Last modified: November 16, 2022

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