A project probably won’t succeed without several critical factors, among them, a good strategy and clarity about roles and responsibilities for people participating in the project. Even a great plan is probably doomed to failure if there is not a clear understanding of who is doing what. You can use a responsibility matrix, also known as a linear responsibility chart, to map it out clearly. The RACI matrix is a specific approach developed by a plumber turned startup executive named Michael Carew that has really caught on. We have six simple steps to set up a RACI Matrix and a checklist of 11 best practices for fining tuning your responsibility matrix. So let’s take a closer look at the RACI matrix and how to use it.
RACI Matrix BasicsThe RACI matrix shows tasks on its vertical access and participants on its horizontal access. Thus each cell in the chart corresponds to a task and a person. For each task/person combination, you indicate who will be responsible, accountable, consulted, and informed using the letters R, A, C, and I. One cell can have multiple letters in it.
RACI Matrix Roles and ResponsibilitiesThe matrix makes it easy to ensure that for every task in the project, there is someone to take care of every necessary role. The four roles participants can take on in any project are:
- Responsible: This describes the people who do the actual work. Several people may share responsibility for doing the work.
- Accountable: This describes the person who is the owner of the work, hence accountable for its ultimate success or failure. They are solely accountable for ensuring the other entries for this task, responsible, consulted, and informed are defined correctly and responsible for ensuring these roles are performed.
- Consulted: This describes people who should be “in the loop” and have a chance to give input on the work before it is finalized.
- Informed: This describes people who should be kept “in the picture.” They should be updated on progress, but they do not have input.
Six Simple Steps To Create a RACI Matrix
- Decide how to categorize the work involved in the project into tasks. Then list them on the left-hand side of the chart. Listing them in the order you want to complete them is a good practice.
- Decide who will be involved in tasks within the project as responsible, accountable, informed, or consulted parties and list them across the top of the chart, creating the matrix.
- Now fill in the cells of the matrix to show who has the responsibility to perform the task, who they need to consult and inform, and who will be accountable for the process and the result.
- Make sure that for every task you have at least one responsible participant.
- Make sure that there is never more than one participant accountable.
- Now show your RACI matrix to the participants and discuss, making sure everyone agrees on their roles or amending as necessary.
Best Practices for Creating a RACI MatrixTo get the most out of your RACI matrix, you need to ensure it eliminates any potential conflict or uncertainty and presents a clear picture that will work. You can simply you this checklist to verify you have done a good job in each column (participant) and then check each row (task).
Things to check for each participant column:
- Too many Rs? This means they need to work on a lot of tasks. Make sure each person’s workload is not beyond their capacity.
- No empty cells? If there are no empty cells, they have some role in every task. Do they need to be involved in everything? Really?
- Can R’s be changed to C’s or C’s to I’s? Avoid having “too many cooks in the kitchen”. It may be easier to ask one person to do the work and check with another for feedback rather than tell the two of them to do the work together. One can be less involved. Similarly, maybe someone can just be informed rather than consulted, meaning they will not be asked to give feedback – they just need to know what is going on.
- Did you get buy-in? If you did your six steps above, you already did. Document it clearly. Ask people to explain the roles in writing so you can be sure you have a shared understanding.
Things to check for each project row:
- No R’s: This is obviously a big problem. You need to assign the task to someone or it is not going to get done.
- Too many R’s: Maybe you don’t need to split the task between so many people. It might be more efficient to narrow it down. Or perhaps it would be appropriate to divide it into two tasks.
- No A’s: If nobody is ultimately responsible, the end result will reflect that. You need to ensure everyone understands who is in charge, and that person needs to embrace their accountability.
- More than one A: The author of the RACI Matrix says you should never have more than one person accountable. If you do dare to venture down this path, you are going to need to make it very clear how to resolve differences of opinion. It is a lot easier to have a single final authority.
- Every box filled in: This means every person on the team is involved in this project. Is that really necessary?
- Too many C’s: Cs’ can really slow you down. You will sometimes have to wait for feedback from all your Cs. Do all those people really need to be consulted for this task? Maybe some of them can just be informed.
- Did you miss anyone? Last but not least, think about your team. Is there anyone who should have been listed in step 2 above that you left out? Sometimes it is not clear until everything is almost finalized. When it is all laid out clearly, you might notice something you did not see before.