Understanding RACI Matrix
Santosh has a large virtual event coming up—his company is hosting its annual award ceremony across six cities and it…
April 5, 2021 | 6 mins read
Santosh has a large virtual event coming up—his company is hosting its annual award ceremony across six cities and it is up to him to make sure the evening goes well. From setting up the technical aspects of live streaming to making sure the awards and the gift vouchers reach recipients—he is accountable for it all.
Feeling overwhelmed by the size of the task, he consults his manager, Lekha. She suggests he use a RACI matrix—a simple yet effective project management tool that will help him achieve the desired results with greater efficiency.
Before we get into the details of a RACI framework, let’s take a quick look at what RACI stands for.
In a RACI chart, the first column lists each task in a project. The rest of the columns are for each stakeholder, while each cell identifies if they are responsible, accountable, consultants or to be kept informed on that specific task.
Let’s go back to some examples of an RACI matrix in action. For Santosh’s event, he is the one in charge of the entire project. But that doesn’t mean he is responsible—or even accountable—for every task involved. For instance, the task of ordering award statues can be another team member, Susan’s responsibility. She should consult HR and the in-house designer, but she is the one who must make sure the task is completed on time. Finally, with the statue specs in hand, Santosh will approve it as he is still accountable for that aspect of the project, though he has handed over responsibility for it.
Once they are ordered, the logistics manager might take over the responsibility for the delivery to each award-winner at a specific time. He is also the one finally accountable for this task. Therefore, more than one person can be responsible for a task, but only one person can be accountable for it.
The company public relations manager is handling the media announcements and only Santosh needs to be informed on completion.
If Santosh shares the responsibilities with people whose skills are right for the job, not only will each task be completed successfully, the result will be of the highest possible quality.
The RACI model is useful for projects with multiple stakeholders involved. It’s an effective way to simply and clearly define who is doing what, ensuring every task is mapped to a specific person, checking if no task has too many people responsible for it and no one person is overburdened; this can otherwise lead to project delays.
It can be particularly useful if there are many stakeholders and there is a risk of approvals being held up. In several examples of an RACI matrix, it can be seen that in smaller projects, one need not invest the time in creating one as the tasks and stakeholders are already clear.
The simplicity of the RACI responsibility matrix makes it invaluable for project planning. Understanding the true meaning of RACI can help with:
At the very beginning of a project, a RACI chart will ensure the managers break it down into a series of smaller deliverables. Instead of looking at a big chunk of work to be done, they will look at a list of much more achievable actions.
As soon as every job is defined, the role responsible for it is also assigned. This is usually done collaboratively to make sure every stakeholder understands the need and signs off on their ability to deliver the desired result. If everyone understands what they are doing, it minimizes the chances of duplication of effort. Not only does this save time, but it also saves unnecessary workplace friction.
With every task mapped to a specific person, it becomes easy to see if anyone is holding too much of any one project. Only one person is accountable for each task, but several people can be responsible or need to be consulted for different tasks. So the tasks should be spread out where possible.
With every additional person involved, there is a chance of delays. The manager should understand who needs to sign off and who doesn’t and then involve them accordingly. There may be several people who need to be consulted but this should be kept to a minimum. The people who need to be informed need only be in the loop and don’t need to sign off on anything.
Does someone need to be involved in the project who is currently left out of the project planning? Perhaps they aren’t needed after all, or this might be the time to bring them in.
It is useful to point out the difference between accountability and responsibility in a responsibility assignment matrix. There is only one person accountable for each task in the RACI model. That person owns the project. However, several people can be responsible for task completion. It’s also up to the person accountable to ensure all pieces are working as they should, and if not, to steer them back on course. Distributing responsibility for individual tasks in the project amongst various roles will ease up the pressure on any one person.
This is also a good time to highlight the difference between a role and a person. In the RACI matrix, the role applies to a need of that project. Anyone with those specific skills can step in to fulfill that function.
To best unleash the RACI framework, there are several mistakes one should keep an eye out for.
Remember that only one person can be accountable and involving too many people in the same project or expecting them to consult on similar tasks will defeat the purpose of the exercise.
Even a quick look at the RACI chart reveals if one name is popping up too many times. It’s best to find effective ways of sharing the burden.
Does everyone on the ‘I’ list really have to bet in the loop? If a mail is sent only to be ignored, it isn’t adding value.
Simply creating a list of tasks doesn’t mean the project has been broken down efficiently. Does the workflow make sense? Is there anything that’s missing? This can create big problems down the road, so take time to build consensus with the team while creating the list of tasks, listen to inputs from specialists and those who will actually complete the jobs on the ground
Learn how to best deploy the RACI matrix in Harappa’s High Performing Leaders Program. It’s ideal for managers with over 10 years of experience in sales and delivery teams. With this self-paced module, learners will gain the insights, skills and tools to rise to the next level. Focusing on communication, strategic thinking, risk management and other high-level business skills, leaders can use what they learn with Harappa on the job every day.
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