Working collaboratively with a team tends to improve results - but effectively delegating tasks and clarifying who is responsible for what is a common sticking point that can throw the whole thing off track. When responsibilities are unclear, efficiently completing an assignment or process is near impossible. While there are many different methods for assigning responsibilities, a RACI responsibility assignment matrix is a project management tool that can work wonders for any size team or cross-functional working group looking to increase organizational effectiveness.
RACI stands for Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, Informed. It is a tool used to formally assign responsibilities for any project, process or organizational change EFFORT. The primary benefits to using a RACI chart are: increased clarity for each member of the team, faster project completion time, proper delegation, better communication and more efficient uses of resources.
At the very beginning of a project, the team leader or project manager should lead the group through a RACI exercise. To build a RACI chart, first list each known task in the first column, and list each known role across the top row. Then, walk through each activity or task and determine each person's role with respect to that task, entering the letter R, A, C, or I in the cell, indicating the following:
Responsible: The person tasked with doing the work; also responsible for researching options and risks and making recommendations.
Accountable: The person who makes the final decision and has ultimate ownership of the task. They are the decision maker and the one with the most authority. It is this person’s job to assign tasks to those who are responsible. For each task, there can only be one person that is accountable.
Consulted: The person who must be consulted before a decision or action is taken. This role is given to the person who is sought out for advice on a task. This person is typically someone with knowledge or expertise on a specific subject matter, or may be a representative of the client, responsible for reviewing work before finalizing any tasks.
Informed: The person who must be informed that a decision or action has been taken. This role is assigned to anyone who must be provided with updates on the progress of a task.
It is important to note that in some cases, one individual may perform multiple roles. The two roles most often combined are accountable and responsible. While it is possible for one person to be assigned to more than one role, each role must be assigned to someone. RACI can be used for any size or scope of project. Creating a RACI must be a collaborative process in order for all team members to understand their own and each other's roles within the project. These charts are fluid and once tasks are assigned, it’s okay to reassign them if needed, as long as the reassignment is well communicated.
The RACI chart above shows an example of an engineering firm delegating tasks to different employees. The vertical axis is used to put the name of the task to be completed and the horizontal axis is used for the job roles and assignments.
For the first task, the people who are responsible for completing the task and performing the necessary work are both the field technician and the IT professional. The person accountable for the project is the project manager. It is this person who assumes the job of assigning who is responsible for which task. The QC supervisor is the one who is consulted for this project and is only asked for advice or to perform a very specific part of the task. Finally, the person informed on the status and completion of the task is the executive.
While this example is relatively simple, it can be used for much more complex tasks. Depending on the need, there can be more employees or tasks added to the matrix. A visual representation of responsibilities helps ensure that no single person is assigned too much or too little. It also increases visibility and transparency in regards to work being done.