raci chart

Today we will discuss the RACI chart. It is one of the important documents in project management and a good communication tool for project managers.

RACI chart is a graphical tool that provides the answer to many questions you may have on your project.

Let us dive in.

What is a RACI Chart?

If you are into project management, you might have the following questions during the project life cycle:

  • Why is the issue not being resolved?
  • Who should I reach out to to get this job done?
  • Who should approve this request?
  • Should the offshore or onsite team look into the issue?
  • Who is responsible for the project risks?
  • Who has final authority on the production release?
  • Will it be okay if I copy XYZ stakeholder in on the email?
  • Why was I not informed of this change?

The RACI chart can help you answer these questions. 

A RACI chart is a matrix chart that shows the roles and responsibilities of team members for activities or decision-making processes. It maps the roles and responsibilities of team members for a project. 

Definition of RACI Chart

RACI stands for Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, and Informed.

Responsible: A person who is responsible for accomplishing a given task or work package.

Accountable: A person who is accountable for the delivery of a task or work package. Authority and final say are vested with such individuals.

Consulted: A person to be consulted for clarifications/feedback for an activity/work package.

Informed: A person to be informed about the progress of a task or decision.

The RACI chart is also known as RAM (Responsibility Assignment Matrix).

In an organization, a team member can have different roles. For instance, a person can have multiple roles such as Project Manager, Scrum Master, Business Analyst, Business Tester, etc. To have a clear distinction of the roles played by an individual or team, proper role assignment is needed.

Structure of a RACI Chart

The work packages or activities are listed on the vertical axis and the team member names or job titles (Project Manager, Scrum Master, Product Owner, etc) are listed on the horizontal axis. 

raci chart example

Best Practices For Creating Your RACI Chart

The following are the rules and best practices you should follow while developing a RACI chart:

  • Limit the number of “Responsible” and “Accountable” assignments to one of each for a single activity or work package. This will help avoid confusion on the responsibility or accountability for a task or work package.
  • Assign “Responsible” and “Accountable” roles in every row. This means every activity must have a “Responsible” and an “Accountable.”
  • Share the RACI chart with the team members and ensure they understand it to avoid any issue at later stages. Always keep the RACI chart updated.
  • Limit the number of “Consulted” roles. More consultation roles mean consultation will take time and it will affect the project progress.

How to Construct a RACI Chart

Step 1: Identify a work package or set of activities for the project. Work breakdown structure will help you identify the activities.

Step 2: Identify the project roles and other stakeholders who need to be updated or consulted.

Step 3: Assign RACI to the identified work package or activities. Refer to the general rules and best practices listed above to come up with the desired chart.

Step 4: Share the RACI chart with the team and stakeholders and get their agreement. If any changes are required, discuss, agree, and update the chart. Ensure that all relevant stakeholders agree on their roles and responsibilities described in the RACI chart. It is important for the project’s success.

Example of a RACI Chart

Based on the above steps, let us construct a RACI chart for a project that involves an Agile Scrum Team.

Step 1 is to Identify a work package or activities. The activities are as below:

  • Scope Definition
  • Maintaining Product Backlog
  • Sprint Planning
  • Backlog Refinement
  • Daily stand-up meeting
  • Sprint Review
  • Sprint Retrospective
  • User Story Development & Testing
  • Code Deployment
  • Sprint Metrics

The next step is to identify the team members or teams or job titles. The job titles are:

  • Scrum Master
  • Product Owner
  • Development Team
  • Project Manager
  • Program Manager
  • Project Sponsor

With this information, the RACI chart could be constructed initially, as below:

raci chart example

After the RACI chart is prepared, perform Horizontal and Vertical analysis. This will remove ambiguities in the assignment of roles for work package or activities. 

Scanning horizontally and vertically, we find that there is no “R” assigned to the Daily Stand-up meeting. The development team is responsible for the daily stand-up meeting and sharing updates such as the completed work, planned work for the next day, etc. They should be assigned “R” and not “C”.

Likewise, Sprint Metrics has “R” assigned to both the Product Owner and Development Team and no assignment of “C”. This confuses who is responsible for this activity. Since it is the Development team that works on the Sprint tasks to help arrive at the metrics, the Product Owner could be consulted. Hence, “R” for the Product Owner could be changed to “C”.

Making these changes, the updated RACI chart looks as below:

raci chart template

It is important to review the RACI chart regularly and keep it updated. You must communicate any changes to the RACI chart to stakeholders so they are aware of team members’ roles and responsibilities.

Advantages of a RACI Chart

  • The Clarity in Work Assignment: Once the roles are defined and shared, there is no chance that team members will be stepping on each other’s toes. Work goes within the defined boundaries, and project delivery is seamless and less challenging.
  • Help Understand Workload: The chart can show if a team member is overloaded, or could be assigned more tasks. For instance, a person who is made RESPONSIBLE for several tasks may not complete the tasks efficiently, as he/she might have to juggle between various activities. The chart would then give the project manager the needed details to make changes. The chart should also convey if any of the team members are overloaded beyond their available capacity. In such cases, the project manager can change the RACI chart.
  • Team Organization: The team is more organized when everyone understands their roles and responsibilities. Working towards a common goal becomes more achievable as work gets distributed to the right individuals in the team. Since the RACI chart is prepared in agreement with the team, there are no misgivings later.
  • Smooth Transition: Employee turnover is a concern in any organization and when it happens, project managers look for a smooth transition of employees going out and coming into a project. In such instances, having a well-defined RACI chart can help in seamless handoffs between the employees. 
  • Alignment with Organization’s Objectives: The RACI chart can help in conveying the overall objectives of the organization to the employees at all levels. Each team member understands their roles in achieving the company goals and objectives.
  • Improved Stakeholder Engagement: With a clear definition of roles and responsibilities, the team is aware of which stakeholder needs to be consulted or informed and share progress accordingly. Stakeholder engagement improves as a result of this. 
  • Promotes Self-Organization: Once the matrix is shared with the team, self-organization becomes easy as the roles are clearly defined and delineated.

Disadvantages of a RACI Chart

While a RACI chart is useful in providing clarity on the assignment of roles, it has some limitations:

  • In larger projects, the RACI matrix might add complexity.
  • While RACI helps in defining roles, it does not demarcate the relations among project team members.
  • If a particular task has more than one “R” (Responsible), confusion may arise that who is responsible for the task or action.
  • Not every single task can be captured in the RACI matrix and can have an owner identified. 
  • It is a time-consuming exercise trying to break down tasks granularly and assigning owners accordingly.

The RACI chart has many variants that an organization can adapt based on its requirements. Some variants are:

RASCI: Responsible, Accountable, Supportive, Consulted, Informed

ARCI: Accountable, Responsible, Consulted, Informed

PACSI: Perform, Accountable, Control, Suggest, Informed

RACIQ: Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, Informed, Quality Review

RACI-VS: Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, Informed, Verifier, Signatory

CAIRO: Consulted, Accountable, Informed, Responsible, Omitted

DACI: Driver, Approver, Contributors, Informed

RATSI: Responsibility, Authority, Task, Support, Informed

Conclusion: RACI Chart

A project manager should be able to tailor the tools and techniques as per the needs of the project and use them at his/her disposal. Resource management is an important area of management and data representation techniques such as RACI charts present a clear view for the manager while engaging the stakeholders. 

The project manager should monitor the RACI chart regularly to prevent work overloads in the team which could lead to a dissatisfied workforce and brings down the overall quality of the delivery. Correct use of the RACI matrix would bring in transparency and accountability among the team members and encourage self-organization within the team.

Do you find RACI charts useful in your organization? Please share your opinions through the comments section.

Please note that, this topic is important from a PMP exam point of view.