Project Communications Part 10 – The RACI Chart, or the Responsibility Assignment Matrix
Updated: Apr 17, 2019
“Leaders must earn the trust of their teams, their organizations, and their stakeholders before attempting to engage their support.” Warren G. Bennis
“If you work for and eventually lead a company, understand that companies have multiple stakeholders including employees, customers, business partners and the communities within which they operate.” Don Tapscott
The RACI Matrix is a simple and powerful roles based tool that helps the project manager determine what type of information is needed by different stakeholders or stakeholder groups. The type of information (and what the stakeholders will do with it) also assists with determining the cadence of information flow (triggered by an event or on a schedule), type of interaction (interactive, push or pull) and if there is any need for a response.
The matrix does this by making the following distinctions in project stakeholder roles:
Responsible – These are people who do work to complete the task.
Accountable – This is the person that the responsible people report to for a given group of tasks. This is where the expression “you can delegate responsibility, not accountability” comes from.
Consult - These are usually subject matter experts (either real or appointed to a governance role) and by definition require two way communication.
Informed – Those who are kept up to date on the work of the project. The level of information and the trigger for communication is determined by the role of the stakeholder.
The idea behind the RACI Matrix (not a perfect technical term, but one I hear used all the time) is that you take your list of stakeholders and divide them into the 4 categories listed above. Note that it is perfectly acceptable to apply one of these designations to groups of people. For example, you may have a group of website developers, and for planning purposes you would treat them as a single “person” when you place them under the Responsible category. Using that logic, you would then have their manager as being Accountable.
Once you have categorized your stakeholders under the RACI Matrix, you decide the best way to meet their communication needs as defined by the matrix role. You determine the best way to interact with them (push, pull, interactive or combo), the cadence of the interaction and the methodology.
This is all then documented in your Communication Plan, and when approved that plan becomes an artifact and subject to Change Control processes.
Next week I’ll touch on ethics and communication.
Process matters. Process matters. Process matters. As project managers, we understand that basic truth and put in place processes that are followed to ensure the promises we made are kept. That applies to almost everything in our lives. Would you want to stand in front of a judge and worry that your fate would be decided not on the law, but based on something else? Or when you apply to college, do you want to know that others can “buy” their way in and take you place? Or if it looks like your candidate will win an election, do you want to think that bad actors operating in the shadows can throw the election to someone else? If you don’t like the process, change it through persuasion and hard work. Don’t ignore it. That is bad for everyone.