RACI Matrix a Tool for Project Managers

Amit N Trivedi

RACI Matrix a Tool for Project Managers

Do any of these statements describe you?

*’Even though primary stakeholders have confirmed the requirement of understanding the project sponsor is not happy with the feature implemented.’
* ‘All the requirements have been gathered from many different stakeholders but no one is getting ownership and giving final sign off.’
* ‘At the last moment development team said that one feature is not technically possible to deliver. The architect said the developer does not know about this before.’
* ‘We have deadline approaching next week and still regression test cases have not been written and reviewed. Tester says that they were not informed prior regarding the deadline set. ’
* ‘Client has asked me for one change and now he is denying to pay for that change request.’
* ‘Project delayed because we didn’t get the API on time which was supposed to be made available by the client as per agreement. Now he is asking penalty for late delivery of the project.’
* ‘Client is asking to use the latest version of the tool but architects says that it will not work as we need to completely re-write the code again.’

YOU ARE NOT ALONE!

These are all very common concerns that Project Manager faces every day. And that’s where RACI matrix can help.

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Why does this happen?

First, let’s understand why this kind of situation happens.

Each project manager has to deal with many stakeholders when managing a project. Each project stakeholder brings in some unique expertise and power to the project. Project consists of many activities and task and different stakeholders participate at a different level as a particular role in making a decision and completing activities. To drive the project to success it is very important to communicate regarding their roles and expectation in the project execution well in advance.

A typical software development project has many stakeholders like Customer, Delivery Manager, Program Manager, Product owners, Scrum Master, Project Manager, and Project Team. The project team is made of one or more Designers, programmers, Quality Assurance Executives, Engineers, Technical Lead and Technical Architects. Each of those people plays a different role in Project.

However, ensuring everyone knows their precise responsibility is paramount to project success. Involving a right person in right activity at the right is crucial for project success. A tool called RACI matrix can help the project manager to clearly document and communicate each stakeholder’s role in decision-making process well in advance.

What is RACI Matrix?

RACI matrix describes the participation by various roles in completing tasks or deliverable for a project or business process. It is especially useful in clarifying roles and responsibilities in cross-functional/departmental projects and processes.

RACI matrix is simply a cross-reference of the roles vs. the work, with the RACI definitions at the intersection points.

raci

It also helps to provide live feedback to the particular person after root cause analysis to take preventive and corrective actions. It is very important to identify the person who is accountable for particular task or activity and who is responsible for the same using RACI matrix. It is important to differentiate between a person who is accountable and a person who is responsible for the particular activity. Project Manager also needs to identify which stakeholders need to be consulted before making a final decision and which are the stakeholders that can be affected by particular activity or task and need to be informed regarding any updates or decision regarding that activity.

Let’s get more clarity about this basic four terms namely: Responsible, Accountable, Inform and Consult.

Here is what it exactly means.

Responsible (also Recommender)

Those who do the work to achieve the task. There is at least one role with a participation type of responsible, although others can be delegated to assist in the work required (see also RASCI below for separately identifying those who participate in a supporting role).

Accountable (also Approver or final approving authority)

The one ultimately answerable for the correct and thorough completion of the deliverable or task, and the one who delegates the work to those responsible. In other words, an accountable must sign off (approve) work that responsibly provides. There must be only one accountable specified for each task or deliverable.

Consulted (sometimes Consultant or counsel)

Those whose opinions are sought, typically subject matter experts; and with whom there is two-way communication.

Informed (also Informee)

Those who are kept up-to-date on progress, often only on completion of the task or deliverable; and with whom there is just one-way communication.

RACI is nothing but the acronyms of these four terms: Responsible, Accountable, Consulted and Informed.

RACI

And RACI matrix associates these terms with particular project activity or process which particular stakeholders.

Example of RACI Matrix

Let’s understand RACI using one real life example.

In typical software development project at TechJini say we are working on Dynamic Website Development Project. In this project say we have below team member

* Project Manager (Mr. X)
* Technical Architect (Mrs. Y)
* QA (tester)
* Business Analyst
* Technical Lead
* Engineers

We have stake holders like

* Delivery Manager,
* BEARD team,
* PMO,
* Client
* Subject Matter Expert
* End User
* Finance Manager

In the project, we do many activities and follow many processes as mentioned below.

* Writing a Product Requirement Document (PRD)
* Getting approval on PRD
* Designing an Architecture for the Project
* Creating Technical Design Document
* Setup Environments namely Production, Development, QA
* Getting required Software licenses
* Getting a required hardware resources
* Creating a Test Cases
* Elaborating User Stories
* Writing and creating Pre-Implementation Documents for each product features
* Scrum Ceremonies
* Testing activities
* Code review
* Change Requests approval
* Updating a status to the project steering committee and client
* Goal setting for the project team
* Resource allocation
* User Acceptance Testing
* Change in baseline

All these activities require decision making at right and need to be done with right people by utilizing their power and expertise.

So we can list the roles as the head of column and activities on the row of the table. This is how we can create a RACI matrix.

In our case, RACI matrix will looks as displayed in the below image.

spreadsheet

This is a simple matrix and easier to understand how particular role is expected to be involved in a particular activity. We have used a color code for each particular word in the matrix namely R, A, C, and I. This gives better visualization and make it even easier.

Usage and Benefits

Once your RACI matrix is ready and analyzed properly, you can resolve any issues and conflict in roles and involvement. This way you can set the right expectations for team and stake holders. You can make it very clear upfront regarding each important task and person involved in it at various level. Say, for example, matrix clearly identified that code review has to be done and it is the responsibility of the team leader. However, an architect can be consulted but this activity needs to be performed by technical lead. Similarly, requirement gathering is the primary responsibility of the Business Analyst as per this matrix. However, Project manager can be consulted but this activity will be done by Business Analyst. This way you should be able to reduce the confusion and risk upfront and make it clear for the team. If a person already knows what is expected of his chances of getting a thing done earlier or on time increases significantly.

Thus, RACI matrix can help you to

* None of the important activity is overlooked.
* Each process is allocated with sufficient staff.
* Everybody in the team clearly knows his responsibility and role specifically in particular project.
* Confirm that work load is equally divided into the team and not only a single member is overloaded.
* In case anybody leaves the project, resource replaced by him can quickly understand his role in particular task and responsibility.
* RACI can also be used while doing root cause analysis. Once we identify the root cause of the problem we can inform, educate the right person to avoid such mistake in future by giving him proper feedback.
* Encourages teamwork by clarifying roles and responsibilities.
* Eliminate duplication of effort.
* Reduce misunderstanding.
* Improve communication – make sure people are not ‘left out’.
* Determine ownership.
* Clarify activities and tasks in a process.
* Reduce bad decisions by ensuring the correct people are involved.
* Clarify hand-offs and boundaries.
* Improve cross-functional view for all employees.

More Details

RACI matrix is also known as a Responsibility Assignment Matrix (RAM), or Linear Responsibility Chart(LRC).

This practice is recommended by PMI PMBOK Guide.

about the author

Amit N Trivedi

Amit N Trivedi is working in capacity of Senior Project Manager at Techjini. Amit holds Master degree in Computer Application and he is PMP certified. He is responsible for end to end delivery of the project at Techjini.