The better team members know their roles and responsibilities, the better a project will run. The last thing you want on a project is confusion, so communicating role distinctions early on in the project is crucial.
A RACI chart allows project managers to do exactly that. It’s an efficient way to ensure everyone is on the same page and understands what they have to do.
What Is a RACI Chart?
A RACI chart is a visual tool that shows the roles and responsibilities of team members for project tasks and deliverables. This makes it clear who is doing what in the project and avoids any confusion that could slow down production and eat into costs.
Project management software with team management and reporting tools makes it easy to define the roles and responsibilities of your team members while keeping stakeholders informed. ProjectManager, for instance, has online team collaboration tools that allow you to assign work, track and collaborate with your team in real time. Unlike lightweight products, there’s no setup required. Get started for free.
Let’s take a closer look at what RACI stands for and the significance of each of those categories in the responsibility assignment matrix.
What Does RACI Stand For?
RACI stands for responsible, accountable, consulted and informed. Each letter is a category that’s used on the RACI matrix to define team members’ roles in a project.
Each task must have at least one responsible team member who does the work to complete the task. There can be, however, more than one responsible party assigned on the RACI matrix.
This team member is in charge of delegating work and approving deliverables before they can be deemed complete. Sometimes the responsible team member is also the accountable one on the RACI chart. But every task must have one accountable person attached to it, and it’s not always the project manager.
This team member will review a deliverable, providing feedback that puts the deliverable in context to the whole project or just within its own expectations.
These are the team members who must know what’s happening with the execution of tasks but don’t have the same level of responsibility as those listed above. They can be given a general report on progress rather than digging into the details.
RACI Chart Template
Now that you understand how RACI charts work you can use our free RACI chart template to help you get started.
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RACI Matrix Template
Use this free RACI Matrix Template for Excel to manage your projects better.
Download your template and keep reading to learn how to create a RACI matrix.
How to Create a RACI Chart
All projects can benefit from the clear expectations provided by using a RACI chart, but it’s especially helpful when managing multiple resources or having task dependencies.
To fully flesh out the process of making a RACI chart, let’s create a project using a RACI matrix example. Let’s say you’re building an addition to your home. These three steps will outline how you create a RACI matrix.
1. Identify Roles & Responsibilities
Across the top of your RACI chart template, list the people involved in the project including the client or homeowner who is having the construction done. Then there’s the architect, who is responsible for drawing the plans. The project manager is overseeing the whole project from start to finish. There’s a contractor, who, with their team, is responsible for the actual build. There are likely to be many more subcontractors, such as electricians, roofers, et al., but we’ll keep our RACI model simple.
2. List Tasks, Deliverables and Milestones
Next, you want to have a thorough list of the tasks, including milestones, and any decision-making processes to be listed in the far-left column. This includes tasks like reviewing the plans by the architect, estimating the budget, getting permits, preparing the site and doing any excavation that’s necessary. You might have to lay a foundation, add plinth beam and slab, masonry, flooring or roofing, doors and windows, electrical and plumbing, fixtures, etc.
3. Assign Tasks, Roles and Responsibilities
Under each person on the project team add the R (Responsible), A (Accountable), C (Consulted) or I (Informed), depending on their relation to the tasks on the left column. For example, the architect would be the responsible team member for delivering the completed project plan, while the project manager would be accountable for making sure that plan is compliant with any regulatory issues. The client or homeowner would be consulted to make sure the plans meet their specifications, but for much of the actual build would only be informed of the progress.
RACI Chart Example
Now that we’ve learned about the responsible, accountable, consulted and informed roles and their responsibilities, let’s look at a RACI chart example.
The RACI template below shows the project tasks in the left column, while the team members are shown in the top row. We can see that the RACI model allows assigning each person a different role for each task.
Let’s focus on the financial analyst’s roles and responsibilities. We can see that he’s responsible for the financial study and the financial plan while the design director is accountable for the design UI and informed about creating mockups.
When to Use a RACI Chart
RACI charts are an effective project planning tool that facilitates managing teams’ and stakeholders’ expectations. While they’re versatile and simple to use, they might not be the best fit for some projects. Here are some of the best scenarios to use a RACI chart.
- When tasks require collaboration: There are projects that involve more cross-functional teamwork than others. RACI charts are useful for project tasks that involve the input of multiple parties.
- When there are lots of task dependencies: Knowing who’s responsible, accountable, consulted and informed for a task is very useful when managing task dependencies.
- When projects require lots of decision-making: Some projects such as product development projects involve constant customer feedback and decision-making when deciding what product features to launch next. RACI charts are a great way to assign roles and responsibilities for both team members and stakeholders so that the decision-making process is as smooth as possible and only involves the right people.
- When starting projects: Defining roles and responsibilities is a need of any project team. Using a RACI chart at the beginning, during your ideation and planning stages is always advisable.
- When onboarding new team members: RACI charts are simple to understand. Their simplicity makes them a great new team member onboarding tool, as it allows new members to quickly understand how they fit into the team with just one quick look.
Advantages of Using a RACI Chart
The more structure, direction and clear definition you can give your project team, the better suited they will be to get their work done on time and without wasting valuable resources. Here are some of the top benefits of using a RACI chart.
- A RACI chart is setting expectations and accountability as everyone is aware of what they and the rest of the team do.
- RACI charts are simple to read and use for both team members and stakeholders.
- RACI charts are a great way to avoid having too many resources allocated to one task.
- By helping team members understand each other’s roles, RACI charts can foster team collaboration.
- RACI charts help avoid having “too many cooks” for certain tasks and decisions.
As an added bonus, these definitions remove many of the personality issues and office politics that hinder productivity. You’ve given your team a RACI framework, so they know where they stand and where other team members stand. Teams are happier this way, and it streamlines communications. Team members can look back at the RACI chart at any time during the project and know who is responsible for what, instead of having to pull everyone away from what they’re doing.
Disadvantages of Using a RACI Chart
There are pros and cons to using the RACI model to manage your project teams. Here are some of the most common disadvantages of using a RACI matrix.
- RACI charts can become obsolete if changes are made to the project plan and team roles.
- RACI charts can become hard to read for large teams.
- The RACI model roles might not exactly reflect what your team members and stakeholders do.
- The RACI model might slow down certain tasks and deliverables, as they require the involvement of multiple people.
RACI Chart Alternatives
- RASCI Matrix: As the name suggests, this is very similar to a RACI chart. The only difference is that this model adds another letter, which stands for “supportive.” Supportive team members will help “responsible” team members with their tasks.
- DACI Chart: A DACI chart, like a RACI chart, is a responsibility assignment matrix. DACI stands for Driver, Approver, Contributor and Informed. It can be a great alternative to RACI charts, as these roles are the best fit for some teams.
- RAPID Responsibility Matrix: Another responsibility assignment model that’s especially good for projects with intensive decision-making. RAPID stands for Recommend, Agree, Perform, Input and Decide. The RAPID matrix clearly defines authority and accountability, reducing conflicts.
ProjectManager Is Better than RACI Charts
With ProjectManager, you can achieve much more than by only using RACI charts and other static documents. Everyone on the team can keep track of their own tasks and can check them off as completed. The project and due date are also listed. Just click on an individual task for even more details. Team members can add their own to-do list to the task to manage their work and keep them on track.
Project managers can keep up on the team’s progress with the real-time dashboard, which follows six project metrics that are updated instantly when team members update their work. For more in-depth analysis, ProjectManager has one-click reporting that provides detailed data on task progress, costs and workload, among others.
There’s a workload page that allows project managers to make sure that no one team member is under or over-allocated. ProjectManager goes beyond a responsibility assignment matrix and helps you better manage your teams, make data-driven decisions and optimize your project resources in real-time.
ProjectManager is a cloud-based project management software that takes the roles and responsibilities defined on your RACI chart and turns them into a dynamic tool to manage teams and workload. Project managers get transparency into the project to monitor progress and reallocate resources to keep team members from getting blocked. See how ProjectManager can keep your team members accountable and productive by taking this free 30-day trial today.