How to Increase Project Visibility with a RACI Matrix
Understanding who is responsible for tasks and key decisions is essential to project visibility and high-quality deliverables. Mapping project tasks to defined owners increases accountability, saves time, and makes it easy to track progress.
RACI is a popular model used to clearly identify project roles and responsibilities. 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.
Keep reading to learn more about the RACI matrix, how to create your own matrix, and some variations for different types of projects.
Why use a RACI Matrix?
A RACI matrix is a very powerful tool for project tracking and communication. The matrix is a map of every task and decision needed to deliver the project with defined owners for each step.
Using a RACI matrix will help you to:
- Streamline communication by identifying who really needs to be involved in decisions.
- Provide timely updates to the right people, avoiding information overload.
- Ensure tasks are evenly distributed among the team.
- Delegate tasks to the right resources.
- Set clear expectations about how the project will be managed, along with individual roles and responsibilities.
- Reduce points of failure by eliminating work silos and uncertainty around key decisions.
RACI – The 4 Types of Association
The individual or individuals who will complete the task. Depending on the size and scale of the project, there may be multiple parties “Responsible” for the task.
In many cases, this group or individual is also “Accountable” for the task.
This individual ensures that the work is performed; they are the true owner of a task. This may be the project manager or the manager that the team member or group report to.
Only one person should be accountable for a task.
Generally subject matter experts, these are individuals or groups are contacted to provide advice before, during, and sometimes after a task is completed. They do not work on tasks directly.
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 about the project 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.
When to Use a RACI Matrix
A RACI matrix is useful for large or complex projects with numerous moving parts and limited resources.
A RACI matrix is also helpful if key decisions and approvals require extensive input. As stakeholders and sponsors have limited time, it’s vital you let them know when you will need their input in advance.
Once you have completed your RACI matrix using the steps in the next section, you need to use it in your project! The matrix should be stored in your project site for easy access, and kept up-to-date as work is completed.
Refer to the RACI matrix:
- In the project kickoff meeting.
- When updating or re-assigning tasks.
- During project post-mortem.
The document is also useful for new team members who join the project later on.
Smaller projects don’t typically require a RACI matrix as the team will likely work closely together. In these cases, a RACI matrix can add a layer of complexity that could delay your project.
4 Steps to Plot a RACI Matrix
- Identify all the tasks and activities needed for a specific project. If available, consult the work breakdown structure for the project.
- List the tasks in the left-hand column of your matrix. Focus on project tasks, milestones, and key decisions. There’s no need to include day-to-day activities such as meetings.
- List everyone participating in the project along the top of the matrix.
- Assign each participant their association (Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, and Informed) to each task.
Below is an example of a very simple RACI matrix.
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 is overloaded with tasks.
The matrix also makes it easy to see where you can reassign the workload.
In the RACI matrix above, Lisa is “Responsible” for numerous tasks but John is only being “Consulted” on tasks. It may make sense to make John “Responsible” for more tasks.
However, John is the Project Sponsor and is not available to be “Responsible” for tasks.
In this 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 streamlining communication.
When a task is completed, numerous parties need to be “Informed” for sign-off.
In some instances, completing one task starts the next task. The person “Responsible” for that task also needs to be “Informed”.
The matrix will surface over communication. In our example above, John is “Informed” about numerous tasks but as John is the Project Sponsor, he is also ‘’Consulted’’ on other tasks.
In this case, it makes 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.
As you can see, the RACI matrix is a useful way to plan your project and improve visibility for the entire team.
Other Responsibility Assignment Models
The RACI matrix is a tried and tested project management tool. If needed, here are some simple variations to consider.
This is the 4 normal RACI associations (Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, Informed) with the inclusion of a 5th association – “Supportive”. This refers to 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 two 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 used only when necessary to avoid delays.
Including a RACI Matrix as one of your project management documents makes sure roles and responsibilities are clearly understood and defined. There is an owner for every task and duplication of effort is eliminated where possible. This will increase overall visibility whilst improving project performance.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in May 2017 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.