Looking back at a time where I had far too much on, trying to manage too many things that all had to be delivered yesterday, I wasn’t a huge fan of a RACI. They take ages to set up, they can be a faff, sometimes they don’t get filled out at all and sometimes they’re forgotten altogether after a week.
Almost like returning to a childhood hometown, I’ve grown to love RACI the further away from it I was. Now that RACI is back again (sort of) in my life, I’ve realised it is a tool I like to use for a lot of reasons. Although simple in nature, they can have a number of uses. They’re great for internal use and they’re great when you’re working with a client.
It’s one of the easiest ways to have transparency and clarity on who’s responsible for what tasks, who should be consulted or informed, and who finally signs it off. If you are, say, running a true agile project you may not need this, but it can be a useful conversation starter and a tool you can refer back to throughout the project. Even if you fill it out and leave it, or it’s only partially filled out OR filled out wrongly it can still serve some purpose (and lots of learning for next time).
Saying that though, you should try to fill it out to the best of your knowledge. One of the key aspects is understanding the roles within the RACI. Essentially you have 4 types:
- Responsible: This is the person(s) or stakeholder(s) who will complete the task or objective. This role can be assigned to several people, but if this is the case you should be clear on who’s leading or how you will work together.
- Accountable: The sign off person or stakeholder who’s also the owner of the work. This should just be one person. If you have several you may want to ask yourself why.
- Consulted: Person(s) or stakeholder(s) who we need input from before the work is completed and signed off. This would be an active consultation, so imagine consulting with subject matter experts before you design a research plan. This can also be a good indicator to understand who people want to be involved in your project too. Make sure you don’t confuse this with Accountable.
- Informed: Person(s) or stakeholder(s) that don’t directly contribute, but needs to be kept in the loop and informed. Maybe this is through a sprint board or weekly updates you send out.
There’s also a lot of other versions of RACI out there. DuckDuckGoGo it and see for yourself.
In order to get started with a RACI you can use a template (like this one!) and you’ll need to determine the following:
- Write down all the people involved in the project and their roles.
- Break down the tasks of your project. In the beginning this may be vague but it’ll do for now. Add more detail and tasks later on as these gets identified.
- Assign each task with at least a R and A. Ideally C and I if you can.
- Check with your team (or even better, do this collaboratively if you have the time) if they agree with the roles.
The beauty of a RACI is that you can start to analyse this and distill it, and even spot some potential red flags. Things you may want to consider:
- Is the same person assigned to a lot of ‘R’s?
- Is there someone from your client put down as Consulted when you didn’t even know they were involved in the project?
- Is there multiple people put down as Accountable for one task? Who has the final say?
- Are there too many Consulted? Can they just be informed on some tasks?
- Do we actually have all the stakeholders that are involved in this? Or are there others not on the map?
- No one assigned as ‘Accountable’ is a risk – who has ownership and who’s responsible for final sign off?
- And most importantly, do people actually agree with the role they’re assigned?
You can keep it as simple or as complicated as you like (but maybe don’t give that complexity over to your teammates if they aren’t fans of staring at spreadsheets for hours). The RACI is, of course, only a tiny part of a project initiation, and like many documents it should be a living thing (ideally with version history or version control). To read more about how we recently conducted some project initiation head on over to the Catalyst Blog.