How often do you take the time to set out the roles and responsibilities with a project team before you start?
You may feel like you have a crack team working alongside you and you can jump right in, but there’s more to a successful project than talent alone. In a recent Project Management Institute survey, 31% of respondents said that poor upfront planning played a part in a project’s failure.
So defining obligations for all stakeholders before you begin a project could make the difference, and one option available is to draw up a RACI chart. A RACI chart is a project management tool used to allocate roles and responsibilities for all the tasks and activities that collectively make up your project.
This article aims to tell you all you need to know about RACI charts ― what they are, the good, the bad, and how you can use monday.com to create a winning one.
What does the acronym RACI mean?
RACI is an acronym for a responsibility assignment matrix, the letters stand for—
The RACI matrix uses these terms to describe individuals’ roles and responsibilities for project activities and deliverables.
Once your responsibility assignment is complete, all participants should understand precisely what they need to do to make the project successful.
Definitions of RACI terms
Here’s how the RACI chart framework envisions each role and responsibility.
Responsible: the person assigned as Responsible is the individual who does the work required to complete the task.
Accountable: this role is given to the person who will be accountable if the work is incomplete or not up-to-scratch. They are the individual who signs off that the job is done to the standard required.
Consulted: sometimes, work may require advice or other input from a subject matter expert to get the job done. Allocate the Consulted role to a person who’s advice for task completion is necessary.
Informed: the Informed role is for those stakeholders who need keeping in the loop as a task progresses. They won’t provide any input on how the task gets done, but are likely a key stakeholder who needs to know what’s happening.
How do you create a RACI Chart?
You can create a RACI chart using a simple grid, but it’s better to use a digital workspace so you can easily update and amend it.
monday.com has a RACI chart template you can use to get a head start.
On the left of the RACI diagram, split your project into logical phases, and note down all of the action items that require completion. Along the top of the matrix, the four project roles of the RACI model are already entered for you.
Next, where a task and role intersects, add in the person who will assume the role. Here’s an example containing a few common tasks for a new product launch:
There are a few rules you need to stick to when you compose your RACI chart.
To make sure a task gets done, each one should have someone allocated as Responsible. Similarly, it’s best practice for every work item to have someone Accountable, too, so they can sign off the task when it’s finished.
For large tasks you can assign more than one person to each of the roles, if needed. Or if it makes sense, you can have the same person allocated to a deliverable as both Responsible and Accountable. As you can see in the above example, not all tasks require a Consulted or Informed person ― you don’t have to assign these roles if you don’t need them.
Now let’s move on to understand the benefits of using a RACI diagram to define roles for a project.
What are the benefits of a RACI chart?
A recent study concluded that role conflict and worker burnout were 2 significant factors in employee turnover. And as anyone who’s had the experience of inducting new workers to an existing project can tell you ― it’s much better to keep the same team around you through to project completion.
A RACI chart can help you manage both role conflict and worker burnout. When you define the workplace accountabilities from the get-go, all of your team should understand what they and everyone else is doing. A written point of reference should, in theory, reduce the conflict and politics around roles. The RACI matrix can also help highlight any team members overloaded with responsibility, helping project managers mitigate team member burnout.
Additionally, understanding the spread of the workload can help you prevent a single point of failure in a complex project.
You don’t want to risk project delays because a sole worker has too much to do, and others are waiting on them before they can move forward with their work.Using a RACI chart can help to streamline project communications. As there is a point of reference for task roles, there should be fewer emails and messages circulating as people try to hunt down the person responsible for a task.
A further benefit of the RACI chart is its flexibility ― you can apply it to many situations. Project leaders can map out the roles and responsibilities for an entire project, or sub-team leaders can use one to define the roles for a cluster of tasks in a project.
Also, if you’re responsible for a portfolio of projects, you can assign high-level roles and responsibilities at the project level.
When should you use a RACI chart?
A RACI chart isn’t essential for every project you work on. Well established small teams instinctively understand roles and responsibilities.
Small teams move faster and can play to individual strengths, so a RACI matrix in this situation may throttle performance.
The RACI matrix is best for complex projects involving several company departments, or even when external companies are working alongside you on the same initiative.
The best time to compose your RACI chart is at the start of a new project. Beginning the whole project with RACI gets everyone on the same page and lays the groundwork for smoother progression. But, if your project is already underway, you can use a RACI chart to rescue a failing project.
Situations arise where one interpretation of a person’s role differs from others. So, hitting the reset button for all roles and responsibilities and formalizing it can help to iron out misconceptions.
What problems can arise with RACI charts?
Of course, nothing is perfect, and you may find a few teething troubles when you start using a RACI chart for your next project. Team members unfamiliar with the model can find some of the definitions cause role confusion. At first glance, the difference between Accountable and Responsible isn’t immediately clear and requires further explanation. Understandably, the Responsible person may feel that they’re entirely responsible for a task, despite the Accountable role.
You may also experience a little tension between those who are a Consulted stakeholder and those who are only an Informed one. In this situation, it’s best to explain that the Informed role is a one-way street, designed for project efficiency ― its purpose is to keep people updated out of courtesy.
If you experience some tension over the Consulted and Informed role allocation, you can explain that it can delay task completion if too many stakeholders have a consulting role. And you want to hit your deadlines, right? Similarly, try to avoid the pitfall of allocating several people to be Responsible or Accountable for a project task.
Doing so lays the groundwork for potential roadblocks, as tasks need processing by multiple people, causing inevitable delay. When you write the names of your tasks on the RACI chart, try and use task names that are unambiguous and inspire action. A task called ‘evaluate timesheets for inefficiency’ tells you more about the job to do than merely ‘process timesheets.’
Using clear language will make the RACI chart easier to understand for all stakeholders. If you can get all stakeholders to sign off on the assigned roles and responsibilities before your project starts, it should cut down any chart reworking when the project is up and running too.
What are the alternatives to the RACI chart?
As the RACI chart is a simple project plan at its heart, it’s flexible enough for you to optimize it to fit your particular need. Especially when you’re using a fully customizable template like the one from monday.com.
There are many variants of the RACI matrix that have tried to address the ambiguities with role names, or added in new roles entirely. Here are a few alternatives you could use instead.
The DACI chart uses the following role definitions to reduce the confusion caused by Responsible and Accountable in RACI.
Driver: the person who ‘drives’ the task forward (Responsible in RACI).
Approver: the person who signs off the task (Accountable in RACI).
Contributor: the Consulted role in RACI
Informed: same as RACI
The RASCI chart uses the RACI format but adds in the additional role of Support.
This role is a person who assists the Responsible person in completing an allocated task. They won’t provide advice like the Consulted role or be the main driver for task completion.
The CARS model attempts to define the roles of RACI in a more precise manner and adds in a supporting role like the RASCI model.
Communicate: combines the Consulted and Informed roles in RACI.
Approve: uses more explicit language for the Accountable role in RACI.
Responsible: same as RACI role.
Support: uses the same support role as the RASCI model.
The CAIRO model expands RACI by adding in the letter O (and jumbles up the letters).
The letter O is for Out-of-the-loop and is for situations where you need to designate an individual or team as not involved in a task at all.
Why you should implement your RACI chart using monday.com
You can set up a RACI chart using a simple spreadsheet, but it’s much better to create one using monday.com. Here’s why:
monday.com has a RACI chart template for you to get up and running with your RACI chart quickly.
As you can see, the RACI roles are already entered for you, though if you prefer to use a similar model like DACI or CARS, you can easily amend the column headers with a few mouse clicks.
You can detail all the deliverables for your project on the left of the matrix and group them up into appropriate phases. Then add in your team members into the relevant role against each deliverable.
Not only is it quick to set up a RACI chart on monday.com, once you have it, there are also further benefits ― you can use all the great organization and collaboration features of monday.com to put your RACI chart to work.
- Sort and filter your RACI chart by column, role, task, or person.
- Quickly set new tasks or automate repetitive ones.
- When priorities shift or personnel change, you can reflect the changes with a few swift edits.
- Easily shareable to all stakeholders, even external ones with a sharable link.
- Tag people, create notifications and leave comments and other alerts ― all without leaving the board.
Using monday.com, you can turbo-charge your RACI chart and make it a powerful project management planning tool.
Take control of your projects with monday.com
Poor upfront planning of your next project could result in problems. Multiple team members might independently work on the same task, wasting resources. Other well-meaning stakeholders can insert themselves into a deliverable, even if their input isn’t needed.
You can mitigate these problems and others by defining stakeholder roles and responsibilities upfront with a RACI chart. The RACI chart sets out what each team member should do every step of the way. If you use monday.com to formulate your RACI chart, you can take advantage of all the extra features in monday.com to make your RACI chart a powerful project management resource.
Make a start on your first RACI chart using monday.com by heading over to our practical template.