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What is a RACI Matrix?
The RACI matrix is a type of responsibility assignment matrix (RAM) which is used to delegate tasks, activities, milestones, or decisions to project team members in order to clarify expectations on their level of participation. Each team member is designated a role in the RACI hierarchy which is an acronym that stands for (Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, Informed).
Responsible members are persons whose contributions and efforts result in a tangible deliverable or completed task. Responsible participants work "in the trenches" and have a broad knowledge base of the task at hand. For each task or activity, only one team member should be assigned the responsible role.
Accountable members (also referred to as Approvers or Approving Authorities) are individuals whose approval of the work is required before the task or activity is considered completed. Accountables are the people in the spotlight -- the first ones called if something goes wrong and the first ones showered with praise for the successes.
Consulted members are persons who play an indirect or advisory role and whose contributions are in the form of special knowledge or expertise. There can be multiple consultants, but their input is essential to moving the task forward to successful completion.
Informed members are persons who should be kept in the loop even though they have no direct or indirect role in the activity. These people need to be notified of important decisions and included on the list to receive regular status reports.
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Creating the Classic RACI Matrix
The basic RACI matrix can be created in a table format in Word or Excel with the vertical columns representing the human resource (by name or job position) and the horizontal rows representing the activities, tasks, or deliverables.
This classic RACI matrix example shows how responsibilities could be designated among a small team developing and managing a website that will target visitors for follow-up sales. Notice in this example that the roles of accountable and responsible can be held by the same person especially when the team is small. The matrix includes color coding for the roles to enable the project manager to quickly assess the balance in assignments across multiple tasks. A simple variation of the RACI matrix known as the DACI matrix substitutes the role of driver for the responsible role and focuses on delegating responsibilities across the decision-making continuum. An illustration of a DACI matrix used to assign decisions relating to the logistics of setting up a meeting of a board of directors is contained in this article explaining the DACI Model.
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Examples of RACI Variations
This popular variation expands the above-mentioned RACI matrix to include a (RASCI) supportive member whose role is a subset of the responsible member and one step above the consulted member. In this example, the addition of a supportive role (content proofer) eliminates the need for one team member (content manager) to double up on the roles of a responsible and an accountable. Using color designation for each role enables the project manager to assess which tasks are labor intensive and which members may be overextended by too many R assignments.
This expanded variation substitutes roles for positions in the columns in the matrix. The advantage of this view derives from allowing the project manager to quickly eyeball the role allocation to ensure that every activity has a responsible and an accountable. A variation of this version is the ARSCI matrix which switches the R and A positions in the matrix so that the project manager has a true hierarchical display with the accountables listed first.
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Analyzing the Matrix
Once the RACI matrix has been chosen and filled in, the project manager can conduct vertical and horizontal analyzes to see if the matrix is balanced. The project manager should at the minimum ask:
1. Are there too many Rs or As which could ignite a turf war?
2. Is a task missing a R or an A, sending up a red flag that something may fall through the cracks?
2. Are there too many Cs which could put the project schedule into extra innings with the time required to solicit everybody's input?
4. Are there enough Is so that the people involved in the next phase of the project can begin working without having to crash the project schedule?
If you're looking for sample forms and downloadable templates, check out Bright Hub's resource guide Over 50 Free Project Management Templates and Sample Forms.
Screenshots created by Ginny Edwards