Bringing Light into the "Responsibility Jungle" with the RACI Matrix

Monday, 11. August 2014

One of the most common mistakes when it comes to strategy implementation is that responsibilities are not clearly defined. Employees are not sure what is expected of them or simply assume that someone else will do the job. Often with the result that goals are not achieved fully, not at all, or not within the desired time frame. Trouble and frustration are inevitable. Yet, this mistake can easily be avoided. Responsibility matrices, such as the RACI matrix, help organizations to clearly define, communicate, and document roles and responsibilities.

Four Types of Responsibilities

The RACI matrix distinguishes between four types of responsibilities:

  • Responsible - Person who actually performs the particular task.
  • Accountable – Person who approves work provided by the person responsible and is answerable to top management for the correct and thorough completion of the task. He/she may also be responsible in a legal sense.
  • Consulted - A subject specialist who gives advice and needs to be consulted by the person responsible.
  • Informed - Person receiving information on the progress and result of a task or having the authorizations required to receive information.

The RACI matrix typically lists the tasks as row headers in the left hand column and the roles as column headers. In the cells, responsibilities are indicated with the corresponding letter. This way, responsibilities can be assigned and visualized very accurately.  

RACI-matrix EN
Fig. 1 – RACI Matrix

Tips for Creating an RACI Matrix

  • While “C” and “I” roles are not mandatory for every task, make sure that every tasks has a role responsible (“R”) and accountable (“A”) for it.
  • To avoid confusion and conflicts, there should be only one person being responsible (“R”) and one person being accountable (“A”).
  • The person accountable („A“) should hold approval authority.
  • In order to keep the process timeless, don’t enter names but role tiles into the column headers (e.g., “Head of Marketing” instead of “Mrs. Jones”).
  • Keep the number of people to be consulted and informed at a minimum.
  • While the communication with the person to be consulted should run in both directions, the communication with the person to be informed is unidirectional and should be automated as far as possible.
  • If a person has too many „Rs,“ consider whether his/her workload needs to be reduced.
  • List the tasks in order of completion.
  • Communicate and discuss the RACI matrix with everyone involved and agree on a final version before starting to implement the project.

Variants of the RACI matrix include RASCI (S=„supportive“), RACI-VS or VARISC (V=„verify”/person who checks whether agreed standards have been met), and CAIRO or RACIO (O=„omitted“/person who is specifically not part of the task). However, the RACI matrix is most commonly used. In the strategic intelligence software SOYLP3, all kinds of responsibility matrixes can be visualized.

The RACI matrix is a simple, yet effective tool to define the roles and responsibilities of a team of people responsible for implementing a project or process. It improves team communication and coordination leading to increased efficiency and effectiveness.