Understanding who is responsible for certain tasks and duties is essential for the success of any project. If these aren’t clearly defined, would anything ever be completed?
One relatively straightforward model that can be used to clearly identify roles and responsibilities is the RACI Matrix. RACI is an acronym for Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, and Informed. For each task, an individual or group is assigned one or more of the four types of association. In this post, I outline the 4 associations, steps to create your own RACI Matrix, and reasons you might adjust your RACI matrix. I also provide a brief overview of some variations of the RACI matrix.
RACI – The 4 Types of Association
The group, role or individual who is assigned this association is in charge of performing the work. They complete this task. Depending on the size and scale of the project, there may be multiple parties “Responsible” for the task and in many cases, this group, role or individual is also “Accountable” for the task. Oftentimes, it is assumed that the Project Manager is “Responsible” for all tasks when in actual fact they should delegate if possible so that other members of the team have tasks they are “Responsible” for.
This is normally the individual who oversees that the work is performed. This may be the Project Manager or the manager that the team member or group report to. It’s important that there is not more than one individual or group “Accountable” for any one task. This is to avoid duplication of effort and communication confusion.
These are the individuals or groups contacted to provide advice before, during, and sometimes after a task is completed. Generally, they are subject matter experts; for example, if it is a technical task, the IT Administrator is consulted for expert advice. If the person “Responsible” or “Accountable” does not have enough expertise on the subject or if the task is complicated, another party will be “Consulted”. However, the more individuals or groups that are “Consulted”, the longer it will take to complete a task.
These are the people who should be kept up-to-date on a task but in a one-way system. A two-way system would mean they are also being “Consulted”. In many cases being “Informed” may only happen when a task is completed. There may be other tasks that are contingent on that task being completed, making prompt and clear communication to the relevant parties is essential.
4 Steps to Plot a RACI Matrix
- Identify all the tasks and activities needed for a specific project.
- List who will be participating in the project; individuals, groups etc.
- Understand each participant’s role and function, and how this will interact with the project.
- Assign each participant their association (Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, and Informed) to each task.
Here is an example of what a very simple RACI Matrix might look like.
Understanding and Adjusting your RACI Matrix
Using the RACI Matrix to plot out task assignments is a useful way to check if one member or group in the project will be overloaded with task assignments. It can also make it easy to see where to reassign the workload. From looking at the simple RACI Matrix provided above you can see that Lisa is “Responsible” for numerous tasks but John is only being “Consulted” on tasks. Therefore it may make sense to make John “Responsible” for more tasks. However what is not demonstrated is that John is the Project Sponsor and is not available to be “Responsible” for tasks. In that case, it may make sense to reassign some of Lisa’s tasks to other project members who are also “Responsible” for certain tasks. For example, Sara becomes solely responsible for Task 2 and Task 5 and Ben becomes solely responsible for Task 3.
Here is a revised RACI Matrix that demonstrates the rebalancing of “Responsible” associations.
The RACI Matrix is also helpful when it comes to communication. Sometimes when a task is completed, numerous parties need to be “Informed” and in some instances, it may signal the start of another task so the person “Responsible” for that task may need to be “Informed”. However, over communication can occur, causing confusion or annoyance with the volume of updates. From looking at the simple RACI Matrix provided above you can see that John is “Informed” about numerous tasks but as John is the Project Sponsor, he may not need to receive one-way information on certain tasks. In that case, it may make sense to reduce the number of tasks he is being “Informed” about.
Here is a revised RACI Matrix that demonstrates the rebalancing of “Informed” associations.
Other Responsibility Assignment Models
There are lots of other Responsibility Assignment Models available however many are simply variations of the RACI Matrix. Some examples:
This is the 4 normal RACI associations (Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, Informed) with the inclusion of a 5th association – “Supportive”. Referring to the individuals or groups that are assigned to help the “Responsible” party.
This is the 4 normal RACI associations (Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, Informed) with the inclusion of a 5th association – “Omitted”. These are the individuals or groups who are not involved with a task. This can really help bring clarity to the ownership of roles.
This is the 4 normal RACI associations (Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, Informed) with the inclusion of 2 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 are not included for all tasks in a project, only those that it is necessary for.
Including a RACI Matrix, or a variation of it, as one of your project management documents makes sure roles and responsibilities are clearly understood and defined. There is an owner of each and every task and duplication of effort is eliminated where possible. RACI makes it very clear who is truly responsible for completion of tasks meaning there is no “passing the bucket”.