A RACI matrix is a simple, clear, efficient way to structure enterprise-level projects. When used correctly, it should help eliminate micromanagement, indecision, confusion and delays. A RACI matrix defines who should be Responsible, Accountable, Consulted or Informed on a given project. Problems arise in two areas. The first is when roles are not clearly defined/understood. The second is when people insist on playing a part in the Consulted or Accountable roles though the project its outside the scope of their expertise. So, let’s talk about how to qualify who belongs in the matrix and where to assign them.
These are the people who are tasked with doing the work. Examples could include your designers, programmers, writers, legal counsel, vendors, etc. There can be numerous people across numerous departments who are deemed Responsible.
These are the people who are the “owners” of the work being produced. They assure it meets all specifications, approve the work, and deem it complete. Examples could include Project Managers, Marketing Managers, CIOs, etc. They gather specifications, consult Subject Matter Experts, keep stakeholders informed, and coordinate work that needs to be done. Only ONE person should be Accountable for the finished project. However, when a project involves numerous departments, there should be one person in each business area Accountable for the quality of their portion.
- The buck should stop with the person who is Accountable and NOT with those either Consulted or Informed.
- A CEO or President should never be in a project’s Accountable or Responsible role. They are Consulted or Informed.
These are the people whose specialized input will positively impact the quality of the deliverable. Examples could include a company owner, legal counsel, salesperson, customer service representative, web designer, etc. Their input should focus on the business needs and goals of the project in relation to their expertise and not their wants or needs.
A role that is Consulted is essentially an “adviser”. Advisers should be considered carefully as too many people in this role can be inefficient and hurt the project. It is also common for someone in a Consulted role to overstep and try to exert too much control over the project’s direction. The person in the Accountable role should have the freedom to qualify all Consulted feedback into three categories.
These are the people whose business needs are driving the project. They are the stakeholders and should be kept “in the loop” at key milestones throughout the project. They should be outsiders. It is not their role to “get involved”, micromanage, or cause “scope creep”.
Defining your matrix
A RACI matrix should be defined in a way that fits your business. Typically, individual roles are assigned to each RACI category. For example, Project Manager, Team Lead, Graphic Designer, Legal etc. However, in rare instances, a group of individuals (such as a committee) could be appropriate.
When you have someone who could be in more than one group. For example, someone could be a Subject Matter Expert and also performing work. In this case, the individual should be labeled Responsible. They may be consulted by the person Accountable. But, their primary role in the project is to perform the work they are assigned. When in doubt, consider their primary role in the project.