A responsibility assignment matrix, otherwise known as an RACI matrix, is an incredibly useful tool which project managers can use to accurately track the various roles and responsibilities of their team. RACI is an acronym of Responsible, Accountable, Consulted and Informed.
This identifies those who do the work to achieve the desired outcome in a task. There is always at least one person in a project deemed as Responsible, although others can be delegated to assist that role.
The word ‘approver’ could also be used in this context, as this describes the person who will ultimately approve the completion of a task, as delivered by the Responsible.
Often the people in this category are experts on a particular subject whose knowledge in that area is sought in order to improve the outcome of a project.
This describes those who are kept up to date with a project’s progress and with which there is only a one-way communication. Informed roles do not have any input during the progress of a project.
There are, of course, a number of distinct advantages for project managers in utilising an RACI matrix during a project period. With clearly defined roles outlined from the very start, everyone involved is made aware of their individual responsibilities and therefore exactly what is expected of them. If the matrix is implemented effectively, there should be no members of the team who fall into more than one of the above categories, ensuring that team communications are channelled more efficiently. With an RACI matrix in use, the vital task of people management almost takes cares of itself. On occasions, there may be someone whose job straddles two of the defined roles, but this doesn’t happen often. For example, someone who is Accountable for a project may also be Responsible for completing the task initially.
A successful RACI matrix saves time and improves efficiency. Communication is simplified, with those sitting in the Informed category being kept abreast of ongoing progress and developments via email or instant messenger, while those in the Consulted category can be involved in face-to-face meetings and conference calls. Once all roles have been clearly laid out in the RACI matrix, the whole project team inherits a single vision of how the project will work, and the will work as one towards the same ultimate goal.
Many of the most successful projects work because the various processes which make up that project are clearly and unambiguously defined and are streamlined to the maximum degree possible. The people involved all have definitive roles and are working towards the same goal. This is all made possible with an RACI matrix.