Whenever you undertake a major project, there’s the risk of misunderstandings, miscommunications, and other misdemeanors throwing you off course.

To navigate the obstacles that inevitably arise with most projects, it’s best to have a reliable system to lean on that clearly outlines roles, responsibilities, and processes. The RACI chart does exactly that.

So, what is RACI? 

The RACI definition is an acronym that stands for responsible, accountable, consulted, and informed. The RACI chart is a way of proactively combating potential project issues before they arise. 

This guide will act as a primer to the RACI diagram, covering everything from the basics of the system to how you can make your own. We’ll provide a template and examples to help you down the way. We’ve even included alternatives if the RACI diagram doesn’t suit your project needs.

Try our RACI template

What is RACI? A definition 

As mentioned, the acronym RACI stands for responsible, accountable, consulted, and informed.

  • Responsible: Who is responsible for a task or decision
  • Accountable: Who is accountable for the overall project
  • Consulted: Who must be consulted for their input on tasks or the overall project
  • Informed: Who should be informed of the ongoing status of the project

With a RACI chart, you can define all the roles and related responsibilities pertaining to a project. It’s a common tool for project managers who want to start off on the right foot with each project and ensure there’s little to no space for confusion from the outset.

What are the benefits of a RACI matrix?

A RACI matrix is used to determine every detail of a project before it’s underway, but it also helps keep communication lines open during the work process. 

If you’re about to start a complex project, the RACI matrix can be your north star. The RACI chart can guide your progress as a robust blueprint — something you can reference throughout the project to get clarity on roles and responsibilities.

Here are the top three reasons to use a RACI chart:

1. Clearly define roles and expectations

At the start of any new project, there are a lot of moving pieces up in the air.

Common questions you might ask yourself could include:

  • Who will be in charge of executing each task in the work breakdown structure?
  • How much work should each team member get done in a day?
  • What will the deadline be and are there milestones to reach along the way?

A RACI chart will help clear up all these questions. The chart makes the project management process easier by promoting full transparency from day one.

With a RACI matrix, also known as a responsibility assignment matrix (RAM), every team member will know exactly what they should be doing at all times. 

Plus, stakeholders can be kept in the loop and add their input. Without a system for regularly informing stakeholders of the project status and inviting input, you could end up falling short of their expectations.

2. Streamline communication

For project harmony, you need effective communication lines between team members.

There’s nothing worse than lengthy email threads where you lose sight of relevant project information. Likewise, instant messages can be equally ineffective as you can get caught up in endless back and forth with your coworkers.

So what’s the solution to haphazard communication?

A RACI chart can help you plan out project details with streamlined approval systems, context-specific communication, and clearly outlined roles.

task approval

If you use a RACI chart with a project management platform such as Wrike, you can set up custom approval requests to make sure relevant team members are notified upon taking certain actions. You can also tag coworkers with comments and update the project status.

3. Distribute workloads evenly

In addition to setting up the conditions for project success, RACI charts can also help leadership reduce the risk of individual employee burnout

Seeing every team member’s responsibilities in a RACI chart can provide workload information at a glance. It can show just how much work each team member has on their plate, which makes it easier to balance the workload. That way, you won’t end up in a situation where silos develop and a few individuals bear the burden of most of the work.

In light of the recent quiet quitting movement, a form of labor protest where employees “work their worth,” it’s important to make sure each individual has a manageable workload. If stress levels soar due to rising workloads, the risk of disengagement increases, which can lead to burnout.

workload allocated effort

Try our RACI template

What are the disadvantages of a RACI matrix?

One of the primary limitations of the RACI matrix is that it can create more problems than it solves in some cases.

Assigning all stakeholders with a tag such as “responsible” or “consulted” can lead to a situation where you have input coming from all directions on the smallest of decisions. Too many voices can slow down the decision making process and ultimately delay your progress with the project.

Plus, if you’re about to take on a complex project, you also need to consider how often you’ll want to solicit input from key stakeholders. Will it be for every minor decision along the way or just the major ones? And if it’s the latter, how do you determine which are the most important decisions?

Spending too much time thinking about these questions can prevent you from getting a quick start on your project and leave you bogged down in the planning process.

Finally, when using a RACI matrix, you run the risk of creating a convoluted approval process whereby every stakeholder has to give up a lot of their time to leave feedback and push the project along.

How to make a RACI chart

At this point, you now know why you might need a RACI chart, so you’re probably wondering how to make your own. If you’re looking for a head start, try the Wrike RACI template to set up your matrix in record time.

Creating your own RACI chart is a straightforward process too, and you can do so with the following five steps:

1. Identify all project roles

The first step is to compile a list of everyone involved in the project.

This can include:

  • Team members
  • Managers
  • Department heads
  • Stakeholders

When you come up with this list, think about every stage of the project so that you don’t leave any roles out. It isn’t limited to internal team members either so if you plan on working with subcontractors, it’s worth including them for full transparency.

When it comes to project roles, there are various ways of labeling them depending on what the specific project requires. 

For example, you may have “project manager” listed as a role, which suggests that whoever holds that position will execute the project manager’s responsibilities. Alternatively, you could make a list of the names of the people involved in the project if their responsibilities are more nuanced.

When you use individuals’ names instead of job titles, you can help them feel a greater sense of ownership of their work. It also makes it easier for every team member to instantly identify their roles whenever they glance at the RACI chart.

Once you have all the roles, you’ll plot each one out along the horizontal axis of your RACI chart.

2. Identify all project tasks

Now that you have all the roles (or the individuals responsible for various tasks) it’s time to list the tasks themselves.

Tasks can be broken down into any of the following:

  • Activities
  • Deliverables
  • Milestones
  • Important decisions

All tasks you identify will go down the vertical axis of your RACI chart so that you can easily connect them to the various roles you’ve laid out. 

It can be tempting to create a lengthy list covering every single task imaginable but sometimes, less is more with a RACI chart. Try to think of the broad strategic objectives and milestones so as not to get too bogged down in the minutiae, which can make your chart hard to digest quickly.

Again, it’s important to be as thorough as possible, so nothing falls through the cracks.

3. Create a chart with a column for each role and a row for each task

Now, put the structure of your chart together using the vertical and horizontal axes to visualize all roles, responsibilities, and tasks.

One way to plot out your RACI chart is with Microsoft Excel since it will provide you with all the rows and columns you could ever need. Yet it can be more beneficial to set one up with a work management tool, and we’ll explain why later.

Once it’s all set up, you can edit it to fit your expectations. For example, you might like to color-code roles and responsibilities, add additional information, or leave a space at the bottom for relevant notes and comments.

4. Assign RACI to each role and task

When the RACI chart looks exactly how you want it, the next step is to assign the RACI to each role and task.

That means identifying who is:

  • Responsible 
  • Accountable
  • To be consulted
  • To be informed

For every:

In practical terms, this means adding the letters R, A, C, and I into your chart where it makes sense to do so. 

For example, if your head of marketing has to be informed when you publish a blog post, find the head of marketing’s name on the top row and the task “publish blog post” on the left-hand column, then add the letter I in the corresponding box between them.

Bear in mind that not every task will require every letter. For instance, some may only require you to specify who’s responsible and accountable.

Typically, you should only have one person accountable for each task. If others are involved, then they should be consulted or informed.

5. Review with your team and all involved stakeholders

Finally, check in with your team and any involved stakeholders to go over your RACI chart. Review all the roles and tasks and make sure everything is on the same page.

This is a great opportunity to call a meeting and make sure you haven’t accidentally missed anything — or anyone. Ask your team and each member individually if they’re satisfied that the information is correct and that they know exactly what is expected of them.

As for any external stakeholders, meet with them and see if they have any input on how you’ve planned the project before you get underway. It’s best to get any feedback they have on board before you start the work since you can implement any suggestions they have without disrupting anything.

Make a point to set up a cadence for checking in with the RACI chart. It could be that you ask each team member to review the chart at least once a week if it’s a major project that will take several months.

The last thing to do will be to share access to the RACI chart so that everyone can view it. If you all work in the same office, you could even print out a copy and put it up on the wall for quick referencing.

Try our RACI template

RACI matrix rules and best practices 

If you want to make sure you create the best RACI matrix possible for the upcoming project and your team, there are some best practices you can follow:

  • Establish project scope: When creating a RACI matrix, it’s important that you outline the scope of the project. With a clearly defined project scope, you can avoid scope creep and easily identify what the key tasks and activities will be.
  • Use clear descriptions: If you want your RACI matrix to limit the potential for confusion and miscommunications, it starts with your descriptions. Leave no room for misinterpretation with your task and role outlines, so everyone is on the same page.
  • Assign roles based on team experience: When assigning roles within a RACI matrix, factor in team expertise, skills, and overall experience. This will help ensure everything goes to plan.

RACI responsible vs. accountable 

Since responsible and accountable imply a similar role, it’s important to distinguish the two and have it clear in your mind what each term means within the context of your RACI matrix.

Here’s a brief overview of each:

  • Responsible: Apply the responsible tag to team members who have to achieve a specific outcome such as completing a task
  • Accountable: Apply the accountable tag to a single team member whose job it is to report to stakeholders with an update about a specific task

To summarize, you’re responsible if you have a task to complete, and you’re accountable if you have to check in with stakeholders with a progress update.  

RACI chart example

If you’re still a little unclear on what a RACI chart should look like, here’s a visual:

RACI Chart Example

The RACI chart in this example is color-coded, which makes it easy for everyone to see what’s expected of them. This helps project managers visualize workload balance, so they can see if any team member has too much — or too little — on their plate.

RACI charts are just one tool project managers and PMOs can use to streamline project planning. If you’re curious about what other resources are out there for simplifying task management and execution, you can start your two-week free trial of Wrike’s project management solution today!

RACI chart real-life examples 

To give you a clear idea of what the RACI chart looks like in action, let’s take a look at two RACI examples.

Writing a white paper 

Let’s say the project in question is writing a white paper to outline your product’s features and how it can be used to solve a particular problem your customers may have.

With a RACI chart, you can plot out the whole process, from outlining to publishing the white paper. 

The main roles for this project would be:

  • Writer
  • Editor
  • SEO specialist/agency
  • CMO

And the responsibilities would most likely include:

  • Carrying out research and putting together an initial white paper draft
  • Editing the draft to make sure it’s in line with your editorial standards
  • Learning which keywords can help boost the white paper in search engine rankings
  • Publishing the white paper

Now let’s see how the RACI chart would come together:

  • R: The writer is responsible for writing the white paper
  • A: The editor is accountable for making sure the white paper is fact-checked, error-free, and ready to publish
  • C: The SEO specialist or agency is consulted to target particular keywords and boost the search engine ranking as much as possible
  • I: The CMO is informed as to the status of the white paper and when it’s ready for publishing

Developing a software application

In our second example, we’re going to explore a more complex project: developing a new software application.

Let’s examine how you might use a RACI chart to develop a new software application.

Here are some likely roles:

  •  Project manager
  •  UI/UX designer
  •  Developers
  •  Testers
  •  DevOps engineer
  •  Technical writer

And responsibilities within the project:

  •  Establishing app requirements
  •  Designing the user interface
  •  Executing both frontend and backend software development
  •  Carrying out testing and quality assurance
  •  Deploying the software
  •  Writing up technical documentation

Your RACI chart would look something like this:

  • R: The project manager and their team outline the core requirements for the app, so that the development process goes smoothly
  • A: The developers are accountable for the frontend and backend app development
  • C: Quality assurance experts and testers are consulted to ascertain how the software could be better
  • I: The project manager and any stakeholders are informed once the app is ready to launch and the technical documentation has been drafted
Try our RACI template

RACI template: Streamline your project management

Creating a RACI chart or one of the several alternatives is one thing, but putting all the moving pieces together and setting up a reliable system for ongoing project success is another.

If you want to take your company-wide project planning and execution to the next level, it’s worth seeking out support in the form of a powerful project management solution. 

Introducing Wrike: a versatile and robust project management tool that can help you find clarity in your projects and ensure every team member is on the same page at all times.

So how exactly can you use Wrike’s features to implement and get the most out of RACI charts in your projects?

raci template

Assign and delegate roles

With a RACI chart in a spreadsheet or a sheet of grid paper, you have a snapshot of everyone involved in the project, their roles, and the tasks they’re responsible for.

What you don’t get is a system of assigning tasks that you can pull up along with notes and comments whenever you need, notifications that let you know when deadlines are approaching, and communication tools that allow team members to support each other and solicit information.

Wrike provides all of these features and much more.

From the moment you set up your RACI chart, you can assign the roles and responsibilities in Wrike and delegate tasks so that each team member knows what they should be working on at every moment.

Sync RACI with task management

Once your project is underway, project management can give way to task management. The process of managing individual tasks can be incredibly challenging if you don’t have a system in place to support you.

With Wrike, you can set up individual tasks that correspond with the activities your team identified when you made your RACI chart.

Wrike’s task management features break down your project into digestible tasks and notify you as they move through the custom statuses you assign. This also makes Wrike an excellent option for the RACI alternatives that include an approver role since they’ll have a straightforward way of approving and moving tasks along.

Plus, with Wrike’s 360-degree visibility, your project will be completely transparent, meaning external stakeholders can stay up to date.

Use the RACI model template

Finally, Wrike makes it effortless to set up a RACI chart, even if you have no experience with them.

The Wrike RACI model template allows you to kick-start your project the right way and prepare accordingly. 

Here’s what you can do with the Wrike RACI model template:

Identify roles and relationships

The Wrike RACI model template allows you to clearly outline all roles and responsibilities so that you can meet your project and timeline expectations every time. 

To further clarify the project details, you can use the template to:

  • Set up dashboards to promote full project visibility from the outset
  • View reports to summarize tasks and their statuses 
  • Speed up the approval process with built-in automation

Ensure even workload distribution

One of the most significant challenges with any major project is ensuring an even workload across the board. The last thing you want is to pile undue pressure on a few individuals as they pick up the slack of others.

With the Wrike RACI model template, you can quickly and easily determine whether any team member has more than their fair share of work to complete and address the inequality accordingly.

Communicate and collaborate effectively

Finally, you can use Wrike’s RACI model template to streamline communication, as every project detail is clearly visualized for all team members. This helps create a coherent structure for each project you take on — one in which everyone understands the part they play.

Try our RACI template
Using RACI in project management and Agile processes

The RACI chart is a popular tool in project management, as it helps project managers clarify roles and responsibilities. Yet it’s arguably even more useful in Agile processes, where there’s a need for cross-functional collaboration and it can be easy to get confused about who should be doing what.

Considering that Agile processes such as sprints require a lot of effort in a short space of time, you want to make sure everyone is moving in the same direction from the start. That’s where the RACI chart comes in.

Some teams will benefit more from the RACI project management chart than others, though, since it’s an extra element in the process that can slow down progress and potentially create more confusion. One of the disadvantages of the RACI matrix is that project progress can halt after every small milestone reached — for example, to check in with accountable parties — which might prove counterproductive.

What is the difference between a project plan and RACI? 

In short, a project plan is the roadmap for completing a project, whereas a RACI chart simply clarifies what each team member should do at every step of the way.

With a project plan template, you would consider factors such as:

  •  Strategic alignment 
  •  Tasks to complete
  •  Team member involvement

Then, with a project schedule template, you would map out the timeline for your project and consider due dates, milestones, and other important factors.

With a RACI chart, you’re thinking more about how each team member fits into your project plan and schedule. Consider who will be responsible for the completion of individual tasks, who will be held to account, who you need to consult, and who needs to be informed along the way. 

Try our RACI template

RACI chart alternatives

Not every team or project type is well suited to the RACI chart and, as such, it’s a good idea to have a few alternatives at the ready.

Here are three RACI chart alternatives that serve a similar purpose but suit different needs:


The CARS model stands for:

  • Communicate: Anyone who should be consulted or informed
  • Approve: Anyone who approves requests and makes key decisions
  • Responsible: Anyone who carries out the work
  • Support: Anyone who supports the responsible individual in completing the tasks

The CARS model is different from the RACI chart in that it breaks everything down further, making it easier to differentiate and identify the nuance in various roles and responsibilities. The inclusion of the support category allows you to identify mentor-type roles or highlight small teams or individuals that will work closely together. 

With CARS, you could also argue that you forego any redundancy that the RACI chart model potentially creates. For example, it wraps the Consulted and Informed categories into one, assuming they convey a similar meaning.

Best for: Highlighting close working relationships where one party supports another

DACI chart

The DACI chart stands for:

  • Driver: Anyone who does the work
  • Approver: Anyone who approves requests
  • Contributor: Anyone who contributes to or is consulted on a task
  • Informed: Anyone who should be informed about the project’s ongoing status

If you’re looking for a more action-based model that outlines the main drivers of progress and the decision makers in the form of approvers, then the DACI chart might be a better fit than the RACI model.

Best for: Projects where someone will take the lead and guide the action forward, deliberately supported by approvers and contributors

RASCI matrix

The RASCI matrix stands for:

  • Responsible: Anyone responsible for completing tasks
  • Accountable: Anyone who is accountable for the project
  • Supportive: Anyone who can lend a hand to the responsible team members
  • Consulted: Anyone who should be consulted
  • Informed: Anyone who should be informed about project progress

Similar to the CARS model, the RASCI model takes a similar approach to RACI but adds space for supportive roles. For some projects, it’s important that someone is waiting in the wings, ready to jump in and support a responsible team member when they’re required. 

The supportive role could be anything from a proofreader or editor who can co-author an article alongside the responsible writer, to an external agency that will provide resources or materials to assist the responsible team member.

This model accommodates that supportive role, thus going a step further than the standard RACI chart.

Best for: Standard projects that involve additional internal or external support

Wrike has all the features you need

Still undecided? Here are a few more ways you can use Wrike to create an effective RACI chart:

  • Cross-tagging: With cross-tagging, you can avoid confusion between team members as everyone can see how their tasks align with your overall strategic objectives. This allows all team members to visualize the process, and who to report to at every stage.
  • Dashboards: Real-time dashboards allow project managers and stakeholders to track project progress and check that the RACI matrix is being used as planned.
  • Automation: Task automation and triggers allow for a frictionless project management experience. Team members can pass completed tasks onto the accountable, consulted, or informed parties with the simple click of a button.

With the aforementioned RACI chart template and the above powerful work management features, Wrike has everything you need to simplify the process of creating your own matrix. And the best news? You can try Wrike for free for 2 weeks!

Try our RACI template