In project management, it is very important for all the stakeholders to understand the responsibilities and accountabilities of each person. While smaller teams can have more informal rules to keep track of responsibilities, in bigger teams with cross-department and inter-organizational collaboration, it is very important to create a more formal process to track responsibilities. This helps reduce confusion and leads project to faster completion.
One of the important tools for tracking roles & responsibilities is the Responsibility Assignment Matrix (RACI matrix). RACI stands for:
- Responsible – Who is responsible for the execution of the task?
- Accountable – Who is accountable for the tasks and signs off the work?
- Consulted – Who are the subject matter experts who to be consulted?
- Informed – Who are the people who need to be updated of the progress?
The difference between Consulted and Informed categories is that in the former case there is a two-way communication (getting their inputs in the process too) and in the latter case there is just a one-way communication (just letting them know).
Let us take a simple example. John is developing a feature X that would be integrated with feature Y developed by Jess. Mike is the project manager and Irina heads the quality control. For feature X, in this case, John is “Responsible”, Mike is “Accountable”, Jess needs to be “consulted”, since her features have to work with John’s features, and Irina needs to be just “Informed”.
Why is a RACI matrix useful?
- It lets the organization know if some people are assigned with too many or too few responsibilities.
- It keeps everybody on the same page on who is accountable for a particular task.
- Keeps all the necessary people in the loop and reduces miscommunications.
- It helps you develop a simple communication system to keep those in the “I” category informed (through email or IM), while involving only those in the “C” categories for meetings and interactive communication. This saves everybody’s time.
How to make the RACI work better?
- Make sure that every task has at least one person assigned for “R” and “A” roles. In some cases both the roles might be taken by the same person (if the task is simple and non-critical).
- Make sure that every task has only one person assigned as “A”. Though responsibilities can be shared, accountabilities have to be fixed to a single person.
- If there are too many people in the “C” category, figure out if all of them need to be in the loop. Consider moving some of them to the “I” category. Also keep the “I” category to a minimum to reduce the noise in communication.
In summary, RACI matrix is a great project management tool that greatly improves the communication within the team and helps getting the tasks done faster. If used right it would reduce the amount of email noise (getting emails for tasks that you don’t need to be informed of) and helps the whole team to stay productive.
Book Suggestion – A chapter is covering the RACI Matrix subject
Since there is no book specifically on RACI Matrix, we suggest the book “Project Management: A Systems Approach to Planning, Scheduling, and Controlling (Eleventh Edition)”.
Video - RACI model explained 101
RACI is an acronym for Responsible Accountable Consult and Inform. It is a great way to sort out roles and responsibilities in an organization.