The RACI Matrix

Structuring Accountabilities For Maximum Efficiency and Results

Related variants: ARCI, RASCI, RASIC, RACI-V and CAIRO

The RACI Matrix - Structuring Accountabilities For Maximum Efficiency and Results

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Clarify team members' responsibilities so that people know where they stand.

Teamwork is often seen as an effective way to accomplish work goals. And there is no doubt that when teams work well together the results can be impressive. Unfortunately, the opposite is true and all too common: teams that fail to work well can also fail to deliver the desired results.

When several people work on a project it is easy to assume that someone else is taking care of a particular detail or assignment. It is also easy to point fingers and assign blame when one of those jobs is done poorly or not done at all.

Many factors can contribute to the underperformance of a team, but unless responsibilities and accountabilities are clear, there can be a significant risk that problems will arise. With complex, time-sensitive or mission-critical projects, or in situations where people are ducking responsibility, it's often worth taking the time to think through the roles that you and your team members must play in every task that your team undertakes.

Without this clarity, you will most-likely find gaps, duplication and confusion. Teamwork will be frustrating, inefficient and you are less likely to deliver good results. In these situations, the delegation of tasks and other responsibilities can be too important to leave to chance.

The RACI Matrix is a system that brings structure and clarity to assigning the roles people play within a team. It is a simple grid system that you can use to clarify people's responsibilities and ensure that everything the team needs to do is taken care of.

RACI explained

The acronym RACI stands for:

  • R = Responsible.
  • A = Accountable.
  • C = Consulted.
  • I = Informed.

Using the RACI system, you list every task, milestone and decision, then clarify who is responsible, who is accountable, and where appropriate, who needs to be consulted or informed.

Responsible – these people are the "doers" of the work. They must complete the task or objective or make the decision. Several people can be jointly responsible.

Accountable – this person is the "owner" of the work. He or she must sign off or approve when the task, objective or decision is complete. This person must make sure that responsibilities are assigned in the matrix for all related activities. There is only one person accountable, which means that "the buck stops there."

Consulted – these are the people who need to give input before the work can be done and signed-off on. These people are "in the loop" and active participants.

Informed – these people need to be kept "in the picture." They need updates on progress or decision, but they do not need to be formally consulted, nor do they contribute directly to the task or decisions.

Project Management Institute, "A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK Guide)" - Fifth Edition, (2013). Copyright and all rights reserved. Material from this publication has been reproduced with the permission of PMI.

Other Variants

Some people prefer to use the acronym ARCI, reflecting the importance of the "Accountability" role.

A fifth element, "Supportive," is sometimes interjected to make the acronym RASCI. Supportive refers to people who provide resources and assistance to the people responsible for the work.

In some situations, another role is included: "Verifies." This role provides the checks needed to make sure the work is done according to predetermined criteria.

This includes a fifth category: "Omitted" or "Out of the loop". this would be used to designate people whom you consciously decide not to involve in project communications.

Using the Tool

To complete a RACI Matrix:

  1. List all the tasks, activities and decisions that your team works on. It's often good to involve the whole team in doing this, helping you drill down to the core tasks that must be completed if the project to be a success.
  2. List all the functions of people in the team. Sometimes this means you need to list each individual team member. But if a function is performed by several people, you should list the function rather than each individual.
  3. Then create a matrix (see figure 1) from the two lists you have made. List tasks, activities and decisions as row headers in the left-hand column, and place the functions/roles as column headers.

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Figure 1: Example RACI Matrix

Tasks, milestones and decisions Function A
(e.g. Line
Function B
(e.g. Manager)
Function C Function D
Task 1
Task 2
Task 3  
Task 4
  1. Now plot the RACI for each task etc. listed. Indicate who is responsible, who is accountable, who needs to be consulted, and who needs to be informed.
  2. And now check the RACI for each task: check this carefully, as this is the step that ensures everything gets done!

    For every task (row):

    • There must be one (and only one) person accountable
    • There must be at least one responsible
    • "Consulted" and "informed" are optional on each row.

    Also, make sure that everyone involved really needs to be. There is a saying that "too many cooks spoil the broth." Too many people involved, even if they are only "consulted" and "informed" can make work inefficient and more difficult than is necessary.

  3. Having already checked that everything gets done, the next step of analyzing the RACI matrix helps ensure things get done right!

    You do this by analyzing the roles that each function will perform. This means looking vertically at the Rs, As, Cs, and Is assigned and asking the following questions:

    • Does one person or function have too many responsibilities? If so, there is a risk that he may perform poorly or not be able to complete the work.
    • Does anyone have too many or all the As? If so it's well worth looking again at the design of people's jobs. Can she really monitor and oversee all these tasks fully and well? Or is it better to delegate some of the accountability (and hence the checking and balancing) to other people in the team?
    • Is any one person or function involved in every task? This is probably not necessary and you should look again at how tasks are delegated and prioritized.
  4. Once you have checked completed steps 5 and 6, you have checked the completeness and integrity of the roles and functions in your team. The final step is to communicate the RACI matrix to all team members and keep it updated as things change.

Key Points

One of the biggest challenges of team working (particularly in areas where there's little margin for error) is to make sure everything is done completely and well. By taking a structured approach to role assignment using the RACI Matrix, you can plot and check who is responsible and accountable for each team task, and also check the integrity of each person's roles. In so doing, you can minimize the risk of gaps, overlaps and confusions and so have a greater chance of running a highly effective and efficient team.

Once you understand people's roles, responsibilities and accountabilities, the next step is often to think through the scheduling of people's time so that projects can be completed as quickly and efficiently as possible.