Keeping up with all the roles and responsibilities involved in a project can be a tall order, particularly on complex projects with multiple moving parts. But, the bigger the project, the more critical it is to know exactly who’s responsible for executing, who needs to sign off, and who needs to be kept informed along the way. That’s precisely where RACI charts shine.
In this article, we’re breaking down everything you need to know about RACI charts. What is a RACI chart, how do you make one, and how can you use a RACI chart in your next project to help ensure smooth sailing and a successful outcome.
What does RACI stand for in a RACI chart?
First, let’s address the most glaring question: What is a RACI chart? The answer lies within its name, which is an acronym for responsible, accountable, consulted, and informed.
- Who is responsible for completing the task or making the decision
- Who is accountable for the project overall or must review and sign off on deliverables and decisions
- Who needs to be consulted to provide input on a particular item or task
- Who needs to be kept informed on project progress and completion
What is a RACI chart used for?
RACI charts are used to clarify the relationships between the people and tasks involved in a project. While simple in concept, RACI charts are an invaluable project tool for a few key reasons.
1. Clearly defining roles and expectations
Have you ever worked on a project that was tied up or delayed simply because a team member didn’t realize they were responsible for a task or didn’t know which stakeholder to seek approval from? If so, then you can see how a RACI chart helps solve this problem.
By listing out every single task, decision, and milestone and identifying exactly who’s responsible for them at the outset of the project, you can set clear expectations and help eliminate confusion. This is just as critical for senior executives and stakeholders as it is for team members. With a RACI chart, stakeholders know what kind of updates they can expect during the project’s life cycle and when their input will be needed.
2. Streamlining communication
Without a RACI chart, team members are left scrambling to get approvals and decisions from managers and stakeholders at every turn. This is both inefficient and disruptive. By taking the time to create a RACI chart in the planning phase, you’ll streamline communication and improve efficiencies by ensuring the right people are notified at the right time.
3. Distributing workloads evenly
Another great benefit of RACI charts is that they allow you to easily see how project workloads are distributed. Team members who are overburdened are at higher risk of burnout, which will only reduce future project capacity. Additionally, a RACI chart can help you identify any silos in the project plan — that is, areas in which all the tasks or responsibilities lie with a single person. Eliminating silos is critical to ensure oversight and help avoid project failure.
How to make a RACI chart
Now let’s look at the nuts and bolts of making a RACI chart to help you organize and streamline your next project. You can create a RACI chart by following these steps:
1. Identify all project roles
First, make a list of everyone involved in the project, including every team member, manager, and stakeholder.
2. Identify all project tasks
Next, write down every task, deliverable, milestone, and decision associated with the project.
3. Create a chart with a column for each role and a row for each task
Using a simple spreadsheet, create your RACI chart by assigning each role to a column and each task to a row. When creating the chart, aim to use individual names rather than titles — for instance, “Jack” instead of “lead designer,” or “Jill” rather than “project manager.” This helps instill a greater sense of ownership. It also makes it easier for people to see exactly what’s required of them.
4. Assign RACI to each role and task
Now comes the critical step: identifying who’s responsible, who’s accountable, who needs to be consulted, and who needs to be informed for every task, deliverable, and decision associated with the project. Simply place the appropriate letter in the corresponding field on the chart.
5. Review with your team and all involved stakeholders
Finally, you’ll want to review the completed RACI chart with everyone involved in the project and make sure everyone is on the same page before kicking things off.
RACI chart example
Here’s an example RACI chart to illustrate the concept:
As you can see, color coding each RACI role makes it easier to see the balance and work distribution across the project.
Of course, RACI charts are just one of the useful tools that project managers and PMOs can use to help streamline operations. If you’d like to see more tools that can help you simplify tasks and maximize project outcomes, fill out the form below to start a two-week trial with Wrike — it’s absolutely free!