R to the A to the C to the I
What is a RACI chart?
Simply put. It is a matrix or spreadsheet outlining a project's deliverables or tasks and assigning relevant roles to project team members. PMs suggest that RACI charts help reduce role confusion, ensures a task isn't ignored or lost, and if the project team changes it makes it easy for turnover. A RACI chart is also called a responsibility assignment matrix.
The first time I used a RACI chart was in my project management class at college.
Honestly I haven't used it since then because I figured there were already so many documents to pay attention to, what is the point of creating another document that project team members won't look at?
Some project managers use RACI charts because we are consistently reminded that:
57 percent of projects fail due to breakdown in communications
[source: IT Cortex]
Here is an example of an extensive RACI chart by Smartsheet:
No PM wants to lead a failed project. So to each their own when using a RACI chart. For those who are new to this concept, below is a breakdown of what RACI stands for.
Before we start, let's use a sample task that I encounter in many projects: Book a venue.
"Book a venue" is a rather broad task for some people but subtasks may include: confirm contract with venue partner, finalize event insurance for venue, obtain permits, determine additional AV equipment needs, confirm if off-site catering is allowed, secure an on-site staff during event, etc.
The responsible person does the actual work/labour in order to complete the main task, including the subtasks.
This person gets the job done.
The accountable person is the cheerleader and supporter.
The accountable person must also be prepared to jump in to help if need be.
The accountable person tends to have the authority to approve when the task is complete.
I like to think of accountability team members as people who will light a fire under their friend's butt to get things done. For example, my friend Tumaini and I are accountability partners. T tends to nudge me to exercise - mentioning that we haven't gone swimming in a while. I'll send random messages about having work dates and check in with T about entrepreneur life.
Got questions related to the task?
The consultant should have answers.
They aren't always on your project team, but you know they can be accessible if need be.
In the community arts sector, I always have someone on the team that's the plug (they have access to a lot of resources, people, opportunities, and other useful links that could benefit your project). Sometimes the consultant is a mentor, project sponsor, senior team member, subject matter expert, or other people in my network whom I can ask for help.
The informed person is usually kept in the loop about the task. I see it as checkpoints:
- Tell them the task is happening (beginning)
- Tell them if there's a problem or major change (middle)
- Tell them when the task is done (end)
I usually don't tell them more than that because no one wants a ton of emails that don't concern them.
Using the example of "Book a venue", a few people that I would keep in the loop about the task include: caterers, talent, DJ, staff, volunteers, photographers, videographers, and other event team members. I share venue information relevant to them such as address, room number, access information, A/V capabilities, food and liquor limits, square footage, sound restrictions, etc.