RACI Chart - a how to guide to using RACI

A RACI is a simple widely recognized tool for defining roles and responsibilities. Each task or activity is listed and those who are either Responsible, Accountable, Consulted or Informed are identified for each task. stakeholdermap.com
Getting things done is difficult enough, it is even harder when you are relying on other people. Wouldn't it be great if there was a simple tool to show who is doing what and what their level of responsibility is? Enter the RACI Chart!
the power of the RACI

RACI stands for Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, Informed
Also known as the Responsibility Assignment Matrix (RAM) the RACI chart is a commonly used tool because it can be applied in all industries and across a wide variety of projects. It is useful regardless of the technical or esoteric nature of the tasks being assessed.

What can you use a RACI chart for?

  • To clarify who does what in a process that needs work from people in different departments or functions.
  • To help fix a process that is not working or is too slow, by ensuring each activity has a role responsible for its completion.
  • To confirm who will do what in a new process or in a temporary process
  • To confirm who does what in a project process – projects by their nature are temporary so several RACIs may be needed to confirm who does what for various activities and processes across the project life cycle like:
    • Project sign-off and authorization
    • Testing, reporting issues and fixing
    • Project governance and management reporting
    • Financial controls, budgeting, timecards, revenue recognition
    • Escalation procedures…. And so on

How to create a RACI chart

You can create a RACI using a table in Microsoft Word or PPT or by using spreadsheet software like Microsoft Excel. Create a table with enough columns for each person in your team and as many rows as you need for the tasks that you need to be completed.

For example:
raci chart layout

Smith and Erwin recommend that each activity is specific rather than generic and includes a clear action for example:

'take part in reviews' or 'attend briefings' are both too generic to be useful - which briefings and what does taking part actually mean in terms of outputs? Review product brief and complete feedback report OR
Attend product briefing, write and circulate actions

Are both much clearer in terms of output required, so it will be much easier to identify the person or role which is responsible.

Once you have all of the activities listed enter the roles in the column headings of your RACI chart. Some management consultants suggest that you should enter roles and not names, because people's job descriptions change. I suggest that names are fine to use and preferable if you are looking to clarify responsibilities for a small teams or for small projects with a finite lifespan.

Finally with your team take each activity in turn and agree who is:
  • Responsible - the person who will actually complete the task. There can be more than one person responsible for an activity, but this can lead to ambiguity reducing the effectiveness of the RACI. See RACI charting rules for more on this.
  • Accountable - the role or person who is ultimately held accountable for the activity. They will usually be a senior as accountability is only possible with authority.
  • Consulted - the person who can assist with the completion of the task, but is not the 'doer'. Smith and Erwin define this as the role who must be consulted before an activity is completed or a decision made.
  • Informed - the person or people who need to be informed about the progress or completion of the task.

A completed RACI

RACIs are a team effort! To get the most accurate and useful RACI chart always build it with your team.

RACI - a little note on the roles that need to be Informed

For Smith and Erwin 'Informed' should be assigned to individuals who needs to be informed after an activity is completed. This removes any discussion about the accountable person needing to be informed on progress, thus avoiding A / I appearing on the chart.

In my experience this stipulation tends to be difficult to keep to and it is not necessarily a problem if A / I appears. That said, if A / I does appear it might be that an activity related to reporting progress is missing and should be added to the chart.

RACI charting rules

As with most management tools there are a few rules that are worth following to make sure that the RACI chart does the job.
  • There can only be one Accountable person – if you stick to only one rule it should be this one.
  • Try to find the lowest reasonable level for Accountability and Responsibility. A C-level role won't be responsible for project invoicing.
  • There can be more than one Responsible person, but too many 'Rs' will make it difficult to monitor and control progress. Try to breakdown the activity into lower level tasks.
  • Those consulted should be those who genuinely need to be consulted on that particular activity.
  • Those informed are only those who need to know when an activity is completed or in progress, in other words they are informed, because they will need to take some follow on action.
  • It helps to follow this order:
    1. Assign Rs – people who are responsible for each task
    2. Work out who is accountable.
    3. Add Cs – people who are consulted.
    4. Add Is - people who are informed.
  • There can be no accountability without authority. The accountable person needs to have the authority to ensure a task is completed or to take appropriate action if there is a problem. Typically accountable people will be managers.
One final tip:
keep your RACI charts up to date. Roles and processes change so make your RACI a living document and present it somewhere visible so it can be referred to by the whole team.
You could print it on A3 and put on the office wall or failing that store it on a shared area that is regularly used by your team.

RACI chart references and further reading

PMI California Inland Empire Chapter. M L Smith & J Erwin. Role & Responsibility Charting (RACI). [pdf] Available at: https://pmicie.starchapter.com/images/downloads/raci_r_web3_1.pdf [Accessed 13 May 2017].

Management Study Guide. 2017. What is RACI Matrix - Rules for Using the Matrix. [online] Available at: http://www.managementstudyguide.com/raci-matrix.htm [Accessed 13 May 2017].

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