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The RACI Chart – A handy Matrix for Aligning responsibilities across teams

In today’s Agile world, team dynamics and collaboration have become the prime factors for achieving success.

For any project to have a profitable outcome, it is essential for the cross-functional team to know their roles and responsibilities throughout each stage of the project. Having clarity about who is involved in the project and to what extent is their participation defined can avoid major communication and collaboration pitfalls throughout the project. On the other hand, having unclear job duties can leave the team confused, disorganized, frustrated, demotivated, and in chaos.

Therefore, to have a clear picture of the tasks, accountabilities and involvement of the team, a RACI chart is a great project management tool that comes in handy.

So, what exactly is a RACI Chart?

A RACI chart is a highly functional and extremely effective matrix that has the ultimate aim to outline the project roles and responsibilities, give a roadmap to each team member and stakeholder involved in the project, and ensure that the work is done efficiently thus increasing overall productivity.

What does RACI stand for?

RACI is an acronym that stands for Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, and Informed. It is often referred to as Responsibility Assignment Matrix as it helps the Project Managers to manage the roles delegated across the team and ensure that the entire team is on the same page and understands their tasks by assigning them clear-cut ownership.

A RACI Chart is a clear and concise visual representation of each team member’s duties and deliverables throughout the project. It is a simple yet powerful tool that is widely used for managing projects proficiently. It serves as a great handbook for effective task delegation.

Deep Dive into the elements of a RACI Chart

To understand each of these letters of the abbreviation more elaborately and precisely, let’s dig deep into each of the elements of a RACI Chart.

1) R is for Responsible: The individual team members who are responsible for completing the task/deliverable are generally assigned ‘R’ in the RACI Matrix.

The Responsible members are the ‘Doers’ who get the work done.

In a software project, there can be multiple people responsible for finishing the task but at least 1 person should be held Responsible for each task.

Examples of individuals who fall under the ‘R’ (Responsible) category in a software project are typically the Project/Delivery Managers, Developers, Business Analysts and SDETS to name a few.

2) A is for Accountable: The individual who ensures that the work is done/completed properly falls under the category of Accountable and is assigned ‘A’ in the RACI Matrix.

So, the person who is Accountable should review, provide Sign-off and approve the work before the task is considered Done.

An accountable person is the ‘Owner’ of the Task. Typically, only 1 individual is assigned as Accountable per task.

In a software project, generally, Business Owner, sponsor or Key Stakeholder is assigned ‘A’ (Accountable) in the RACI chart.

3) C is for Consulted: These members give their valuable inputs, expert opinions, and feedback for the betterment of the task. They are not directly involved in the day-to-day activities of the project but their inputs help the project teams to take the right decision.

So, the people who assist in taking decisions are assigned ‘C’ in the RACI Chart. They are the ‘Consultants’ for the task as they provide their assistance for the completion of the job. For a given Project, there can be many individuals who can be assigned as Consulted.

In a software project, typically people like SMEs (Subject Matter Experts) and Legal team members are assigned ‘C’ (Consulted) as they are consulted for various needs.

It is ideal to consult these people and get their expert inputs before starting a task to get a complete picture of the requirements, key deliverables and potential risks involved as well as after completion of the task to ensure that the results are in proper format and all the proper measures are followed.

4) I is for Informed: These are the members who are kept in the loop about the latest updates and progress of the project. They are informed about the project on a need-to-know basis as they don’t directly contribute to the outcome/success of the project. They do not have to be consulted as they are involved in the decision-making process. These individuals are optional attendees for any major project-related meetings like kick-off meetings or project demos. So, the individuals who are ‘Kept Aware’ of the status of the project are assigned ‘I’ in the RACI matrix. For a given project, there can be multiple individuals who can be assigned ‘I’.

In a Software project, the secondary Stakeholders or Senior Leadership who do not actively participate in the project can be assigned ‘I’ (Informed) in the RACI Chart.

Who creates a RACI Chart?

The onus of creating a RACI Chart lies on the shoulders of the Project Manager. Typically, the Project Manager creates the RACI chart during the initial stages of Project Planning. This document gives a glimpse of the roles of all the people involved, i.e., the stakeholders and cross-functional team and brings the required structure and clarity to the project.

Steps to create a RACI Chart

A RACI Matrix is normally represented in a tabular format with color-coded rows and columns highlighting different roles and responsibilities the individuals involved in the project have over a particular task/deliverable.

The following are steps to create a simple RACI chart:

Step 1: Chalk down the list of tasks and key deliverables

It is important to identify and list all the critical project details and break them down into clear deliverables, key tasks, major milestones or action items.

Step 2: Identify the Team members

The next step is to identify all the required team members who need to be involved in the project to complete it successfully.

Step 3: Prepare a Matrix

Then, draw a matrix where the rows are denoted by the team members and the columns are denoted by the tasks/deliverables. We can use basic tools like an excel spreadsheet to draw this matrix.

Step 4: Assign RACI Roles

After preparing the matrix and identifying the team members, assign each team member roles and responsibilities by giving them R (Responsible), A (Accountable), C (Consulted) and I (Informed) based on their level of involvement in the project.

Step 5: Review, Finalize and share

Once the draft version of the RACI chart is prepared, hold a review meeting with the key members of the team to assess the matrix and finalize it. Once the matrix is finalized, share it with all the team members and stakeholders for future reference.

To have a better understanding of how a RACI chart looks, let’s see a sample matrix.

Advantages of a RACI Chart

· Workload Balance: Creating a Work Load balance among the team members is highly crucial for the project’s success. Assigning too many tasks to the top performers and overloading them with the workload can hamper the overall productivity of the project. Therefore, a RACI matrix helps in delegating the tasks resourcefully and thus, avoiding the burnout of resources.

· Establishes a Decision-maker: Defining clear and specific roles for each individual involved in the project establishes a proper chain of command and thus, institutes the person of Authority for each task by setting proper expectations.

· Streamlines Communication: Having a RACI chart streamlines communication and ensures that the right people are given the right amount of information at the right time thereby, efficiently handling the project. It lessens any communication gaps among the team members and helps in avoiding miscommunication.

· Great Conflict Management Tool: Since the roles and responsibilities of each team member are made clear in a RACI Chart, it aids in conflict management by minimizing confusion and avoiding the blame game if a failure occurs in the project.

· Avoids Task Overlooks: By assigning at least one person as Responsible per task, it ensures that no task is overlooked and all the tasks are tackled appropriately by the right person.

Summing Up

In today’s multifaceted and complex business and IT environment, a RACI Chart is a great framework that can be used to achieve clarity about roles and responsibilities and manage big projects competently by eliminating confusion, conflicts, misunderstandings and misinterpretations. It is one of the most essential artifacts in the project management toolkit which acts like an almanac for the smooth running of the project and ensures that the entire team collectively progresses in the same direction and reaches the common end goal of completing the project successfully.

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