RACI matrix: better overview and better communication
In usual project plans, tasks are assigned to "processors". The RACI matrix extends this role by three more, so that an employee can have other relationships to a task than the direct responsibility for it. This makes sense, since the processors are often not the only ones involved in an operation. For example, others may want to know when a task is finished, or information from other project participants is needed for someone to complete a task.
For project management, the RACI method defines four task-specific roles that project participants can use to relate to a task. Roles are typically assigned to a project, but not to a task, meaning that there is a project manager or a Scrum Master for the whole project, but no one else within a team is assigned responsibilities for the tasks within the project. RACI gives us significantly more flexibility with the ability to assign roles in a task-specific manner.
The RACI method does not replace other techniques such as project structure plans, Gantt diagrams, or network plans, but supplements them. The RACI matrix is also called the “Responsibility Assignment Matrix” (RAM).
With this method, the responsibilities and duties in a project or company can be presented clearly, distinctly, and specifically. Many report that this technology has made their project management more efficient. Overall, the processes became less frictional and there were fewer misunderstandings, since everyone's role and responsibilities in the project were clear. There were less lengthy and fruitless discussions in project meetings. Decisions were made faster and the workload was distributed more fairly.
Better management with the RACI diagram
In the RACI table, the processes or tasks are listed in rows and the project participants in columns. The respective role that connects the team member with this process is entered in the intersection field of task and processor. There are four types of relationships or roles in the RACI system:
- The Responsible - Who does the job?
- The Accountable (Manager) - Who makes decisions and takes measures for the task(s)?
- The Consulted - Who is involved in decisions and tasks and is informed about them?
- The Informed - Who will be informed about decisions and actions during the project?
Enter an R, A, C or I in the intersection fields, or leave it blank. There should only be one R for each task, i.e. there should be no more than one R per line.
We use the table above to explain the RACI principle for project management. The process described thereby provides that Karl is the decision-maker (he is Accountable) for questions about the "project planning" process. Madeleine is Responsible as the processor for the completion of the project planning. Babette can be Consulted because she knows about the dependencies between this project and her own decision and Madeleine can draw attention to potential conflicts.
Furthermore, the process provides that Stephen always receives copies of the meeting minutes (he is Informed) because he needs this information to control his own work.
What advantages does the RACI diagram offer you?
When used correctly, the RACI method offers you a whole range of advantages:
- Transparency: The RACI chart clearly shows who is responsible for what. This avoids unnecessary discussions and clears up misunderstandings.
- Fair distribution of tasks: It becomes visible when individual employees have been assigned too many or too few tasks.
- No bottlenecks: It becomes clear when employees appear in the process as consultants in too many places and may therefore slow down the progress of the project.
- Targeted communication: If an employee is registered as a person to be informed in almost every process, you have to ask whether this is really necessary. The RACI method helps to build up an efficient communication scheme in projects and in companies. This makes sure that information systematically reaches exactly where it is useful. Unnecessary communication based on the watering can principle is avoided.
Set up the scheme
How to set up a corresponding scheme for your project:
- Make a list of project tasks
- Identify the project participants
- Name an agent and a manager for each task or process
- Make sure that there is only one agent per issue
- Talk to all agents and managers and make sure everyone understands their tasks and roles
- If necessary, add advisors and information providers
Tips for the RACI matrix
- The RACI matrix must not be misused as a control instrument. No disfunctional team can be put in order with the help of the RACI matrix. The team spirit has to be right and there has to be trust.
- The tasks must be formulated clearly and understandably. The scope of a task must be clear.
- Make it clear for example in a project manual who is responsible for creating and maintaining the RACI chart.
- Determine whether a consultant can and must take action himself or only on request.
- Make it clear that it is not the manager who is responsible for a task, but the processor. It is of course also possible that both roles are represented by the same person.
- Make sure that there is exactly one responsible person (R) in each line. It is rarely a good thing if several people are responsible. If in doubt, split a task into two subtasks.
- Avoid bottlenecks with too many C's in a row.
- Make sure that the RACI method is integrated into the regular project planning. It doesn't help if you keep the RACI matrix in an Excel spreadsheet and do the project planning and tracking in another tool.
RACI and Agile
There are Scrum experts who think that RACI does not fit Scrum without adjustments. Although there are many variations of RACI, some practitioners feel the urge to create new Scrum-specific roles (such as “F = facilitator / coach”), new Scrum-specific activities and responsibilities (such as “Ensuring the consistency of Scrum practices across teams or removing obstacles "), or add new positions and roles (like “Scrum Team”) to the matrix.
In the simplest case, according to the Scrum manual, the product owner is the only person responsible for managing the product backlog. Even if the product owner commissions the development team, he remains accountable.
According to Scrum, stakeholders are also accountable and must be involved in the overall process. They are therefore to be treated like managers in the RACI matrix.
Let RACI work for you
The RACI method is very effective when it is involved in task management. For example, it automatically ensures that there is always exactly one processor for an operation.
A corresponding automail scheme in project management can be used to precisely determine who is informed when and how. An authorization schema can be used to determine who has access to a task and who does not based on the RACI roles.
There are a number of variants of the RACI method for project management to clearly define responsibilities. You can find a relatively extensive list on Wikipedia.
DRASCI: The roles "Driver" and "Support" are added here. The "driver" supports the processor in management, while the "support" assists him in the execution level.
RASCI: The standard RACI matrix is supplemented by "support", i.e. the people who support the "responsible" person in the process in carrying out a task.
RACI-VS: There are two other areas: If a role is assigned as "Verify", this should check whether the defined product properties have been implemented as desired. “Signatory” means that a person approves the “Verify” result. Compared to the standard RACI, further test steps are built in here.
CAIRO: Almost the standard RACI, only supplemented by "submitted". If this value is assigned, participants are deliberately excluded from a task.
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