Can you identify exactly who’s doing what by when for each task, milestone, and deliverable in your project? If not, you might need a RACI chart.
RACI is an acronym to help teams clarify project roles and figure out who the responsible party is for any given task. Whether you've never heard of RACI before or you’re considering creating a RACI chart for your next project, here’s everything you need to know about how to create and use these charts.
A RACI chart (sometimes called a Responsibility Assignment Matrix) is a way to identify your project teams’ roles and responsibilities for any task, milestone, or project deliverable. By following the RACI acronym, you can clarify responsibility and reduce confusion. RACI stands for:
Responsible. This person is directly in charge of the work. There should only ever be one Responsible role per task so you know who to go to with questions or updates. If a task has more than one Responsible person, you can lose clarity and cause confusion. Instead, aim to add additional collaborators as some of the other RACI roles, which can have more than one person.
Accountable. The Accountable person is responsible for overseeing overall task completion, though they may not be the person actually doing the work. There are two ways to assign an Accountable role. Sometimes, the Accountable is the project manager (or even the Responsible, though in that case the person is taking on two different roles during the task workflow). In these cases, the Accountable is responsible for making sure all of the work gets done. In other cases, the Accountable is a senior leader or executive who is responsible for approving the work before it’s considered complete. Like the Responsible role, there should only ever be one Accountable.
Consulted. This will be the person or people who should review and sign off on the work before it’s delivered. There may be multiple Consulted roles for each task, project milestone, or deliverable.
Informed. This is the person or group of people who are informed about the progress and completion of work. They probably are not involved in any other aspect of the deliverable.
RACI charts are a helpful way to track each stakeholder’s role for a task, milestone, or deliverable—especially if you’re managing a complex project with many decision makers and subject matter experts. With a RACI chart, you can prevent poor decision making and avoid roadblocks in the approvals process that could impact overall project success.
These charts are especially useful if your stakeholders may be taking on different roles throughout the project. For example, there could be a stakeholder who is Responsible on one deliverable but Informed on another. With a RACI chart, you can clearly outline these details and make sure everyone knows who’s responsible for what.
To build a RACI chart, list every task, milestone, or deliverable for your project. Then, identify who the Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, and Informed team members are for each one.
Let’s say you’re updating the homepage on your website. Project stakeholders include:
You want to create a RACI chart for five tasks and deliverables:
Here’s what the RACI chart would look like:
Update homepage CTAs
Update customer story on homepage
Revamp video on homepage
Improve homepage loading speed
Update homepage design
Ultimately, the question is: should you create a RACI chart? While RACI charts are a useful tool to identify project responsibilities, they can get a little cumbersome over the lifecycle of a project. Here are the pros and cons of creating a RACI chart for your team’s work:
Clear project roles and responsibilities can help your team move fast and reduce confusion about who’s working on what. With a RACI chart, you can ensure you don’t have two team members working on the same thing. As a result, you’ll have an easier time collaborating with your team.
RACI charts are also particularly helpful when the decision-making process is split between tasks. There might be scenarios where the Informed on one task or milestone is the Responsible or Consulted on another—in order to have that clearly defined, it’s helpful to track this work in a RACI chart.
RACI models focus on the granular, instead of capturing work at the project level. You might know who the Consulted is on a particular task—which is helpful—but knowing that doesn’t help you understand how various stakeholders interact with the broader project work.
Additionally, if you attempt to write out each task and each role, your RACI chart can get bulky. Worse, if your project changes in some way, your RACI chart would immediately become outdated. That can make it hard for you to gain real-time clarity about where each task is in your project workflow.
RACI charts are limited because they aren’t able to adapt to your project needs in real time. In order to establish clear expectations and eliminate confusion on the project level, you need a project management tool.
With project management software, every task has an assignee—that’s the Responsible. You can see work on the project level, so the Accountable and Informed don’t have to check in via email or status meetings. And, for any approvals you need from your Consulted, you can track reviews and approvals in one place. That way, your entire RACI team has a central source of truth for all of the work being done.
Instead of having your RACI chart separate from where the work is happening, project management tools capture the topic, assignee, and other important information like the task due date or relative importance. That way, your entire project team has visibility into who’s doing what by when—and you’re not relying on a single person to manage and update your RACI chart. Project management tools update in real time, so you can see exactly where you are in the approval process.
Clear team roles and responsibilities help you hit your deliverables on time. Tracking different and complex stakeholder responsibilities in a RACI chart can help you do that—but RACI charts are just the beginning. Learn more about work management, and how your team can benefit.
An introduction to work management
See how a work management tool helps teams easily connect and collaborate, enabling everyone to achieve more, together—even in an increasingly distributed world.