I have been working in customer service for more than 20 years and have been responsible for a large number of projects. Again and again I had to realize that the overview of the multitude of necessary activities and their responsibilities is quickly lost within the months-long project phase and one often forgets one or the other.
To prevent this, it is advisable to create a RACI matrix at the very beginning of the project phase in order to provide more transparency about responsibilities as well as constant information for all parties involved.
First of all, what is a RACI matrix?
Simply put, it is a tool that identifies tasks and responsibilities versus tasks within a project. RACI maps tasks and project steps to roles and people in your project. Decision making and responsibilities are assigned to each role and person, ensuring early involvement and information. RACI stands for:
R – Responsible (responsibility for the implementation).
Here, the person who develops the task or result should be named. This person is responsible for getting the job done or making the decision. There can sometimes be more than one person, but you should try to limit the number of people involved.
A – Accountable (Responsibility for the task).
This person or position is responsible for the overall completion of the task or deliverable, thus controls all other staff and individuals responsible for its execution. This responsibility is best held by a single person, thus providing clarity of accountability. This is often a department manager or a system manager. This person must also check the correct execution and the result.
C – Consulted (technical consulting support)
This often refers to the groups of people who can be called in for consultation. These are usually system experts or other specialists.
These persons are always in close contact with the persons responsible for the tasks and thus ensure that the tasks are performed jointly.
I – Informed
If a task is completed or if certain information steps are necessary, the persons with the status „Informed“ are to be informed. The information flow takes place only unilaterally. This can also be groups and departments, which can be informed e.g. by sending a mail to a group/department mailbox. Thus an information flow is ensured, which can be during the progress, or when the task is done or the result is finished.
What advantages do I gain by using a RACI matrix?
Simplification of communication
Providing a RACI can be useful for focusing on the entire lifecycle of a project. Instead of involving every single person in every single decision, you can simplify communication, involve the right people at the right time, and speed up approval and decision-making. Recurring and therefore regular communication is ensured does not lose its importance within the project phase.
Clear assignment of responsibilities and accountability
Since in a RACI matrix all participants are named, whether in the role of the responsible or in the role of the supporting, you do not lose the necessary input of all contributing persons in any phase of the project.
Avoid work overload and silos
We all know how often a project manager has several tasks at the same time, takes on a lot of responsibility and often covers several positions in a project. The RACI- Matrix can be a useful tool to delegate and trigger independent work processes by clearly assigning activities, without the need to always have the project manager trigger every single work share. It also helps avoid a single point of failure, where all knowledge and responsibility for a task rests on a single person, creating silos.
When a RACI matrix is created at the beginning of a project, expectations for stakeholders are clearly defined. People involved in the project should be able to clearly identify where and in what tasks they need to be involved. This matrix will help avoid confusion by clearly showing who is responsible for completing a task. It will allow stakeholders to know what information they will receive and when as part of the project.
Show and ensure resources are available early on
All individuals listed and involved in a RACI matrix are an important part of the project and will be needed over a period. Project support enrollment is thus indicated and secured at the necessary time.
What do I have to pay attention to when creating a RACI matrix?
Step 1: Identify project roles and people involved
Think carefully about who may be involved in which phase. Assigning people by name in the first draft of a RACI matrix makes it easier to get started. Later, roles or groups can be formed on it, for example, if a task is completed by a department.
Step 2: Identify project tasks or deliverables
Tasks and events are to be identified and entered in the RACI matrix. Here, it may be useful to also follow a project plan or project schedule in a bullet-point fashion and take the tasks from each phase.
Often there will be a few more than these but try not to be too detailed or the diagram could become too complex to use effectively later.
Step 3: Assign the RACI to each role and task.
Work through each task and think about the different roles and what they should be responsible for. Each task or deliverable should have at least one person in charge and one person responsible. Make sure there is only one role or name assigned to the responsible party. Think carefully about who should be consulted while the task is in progress and who should be informed when the task is complete.
Step 4: Consult with key project stakeholders.
Coordinate with all project stakeholders and create the RACI matrix collaboratively. Be sure to keep it as compact and clear as possible to avoid time-consuming discussions and to show a clear mapping for all stakeholders.
Step 5: Use throughout the life of the project.
Use throughout the life of the project is recommended, as this is the only way to ensure consistent quality in project execution and communication.
A RACI matrix accompanies you during the entire project phase and always provides a good overview of the distribution of responsibilities and competencies, as well as the necessary flow of information. Even in phases when someone is on vacation and thus gives up tasks or responsibilities, they can keep track of everything. A RACI is a very useful document if there is a concerted effort to use and update it beyond the start of a project. Be sure to assess the needs of your project from the beginning and make the RACI fit for its purpose. Make sure everyone understands the terms you use.
Udo Ociepka – Senior Consultant