Updated: Jan 17
Modern organizations are complex and few tasks happen in isolation. In the execution of a project or business process, there could be overlapping responsibilities that cause confusion, conflict, and waste. Alternatively, there could be a complete gap that causes delays or deficiencies if no one is identified to be responsible for a required task. A RACI matrix, also known as the responsibility assignment matrix (RAM), is a simple yet useful tool to organize and assign participation levels for various roles demanded from a task or deliverable.
RACI is an acronym with the following parts that indicate participation levels for identified roles or persons:
Responsible – The person(s) responsible for executing the deliverable or task
Accountable – The person that provides ultimate sign-off for the completion of the deliverable or task. There should only be one accountable person for each deliverable or task
Consulted – The people, usually subject matter experts, who provide input for the deliverable or task. They have two-way communication with the team.
Informed – Those who are provided information/updates about the deliverable or task as their role may be impacted by the task. There is only one-way communication with this group.
A RACI matrix is a simple table on two axes. Task is usually on the vertical axis and roles on the horizontal axis. Participation levels are assigned for each role and task. A task will always have a responsible and accountable person (possibly the same person); however, a task may sometimes not have a consulted or informed role.
Here is a simple example of the RACI matrix with 5 tasks and 5 roles. In a more complex scenario, you may have tasks that are further divided into sub-tasks and/or have roles arranged under teams/departments. As you can see, the involvement required from each role for each task can easily be identified on the table. For example, the person in Role 1 is responsible for task 1, accountable for task 2, consulting for task 4, and informed for task 5.
The RACI matrix is obviously not a fix-all tool for team organization. There has been criticism that says it may be too rigid for agile projects/processes and too much effort for smaller projects. There are also variations to this matrix with additional identifiers. Nonetheless, you should make a decision if this tool is right for your situation.