RACI Matrix

I was working on a RACI matrix recently. A RACI matrix is also called a responsibility assignment matrix. It describes the participation by various roles in completing tasks or deliverables for a project.

Typically, a project plan is used to define the tasks and resources in a project.

Project Task

Ideally, tasks should come from the work breakdown structure document. A task defines work to be performed by one or more roles on a team with a start date/time and end date/time. The work may be dependent on other tasks, too. Each role assigned to the task may have different responsibilities to complete the task. You cannot show these differences clearly on a work breakdown structure document or a project plan. Thus, a RACI matrix is used to define the responsibilities.

RACI Matrix Legend

I use a legend to define the RACI Matrix codes. I add a description because I believe that the one word name is insufficient to understand the code.

Code Name Description
R Responsible person who performs an activity or does the work
A Accountable person who is ultimately accountable and has Yes/No/Veto
C Consulted person that needs to feedback and contribute to the activity
I Informed person that needs to know of the decision or action

The primary problem that I have with the RACI Matrix is the confusion over Responsible and Accountable. Most people believe that the role tagged with Responsible is responsible for ensuring that the task work is completed. This understanding is incorrect. I think part of the problem is that Responsible appears before Accountable in RACI. So people think that the first role is the most important.

The role tagged with Accountable is ultimately accountable and has ownership of the work. Some people define Accountable as the decision-maker. The Accountable role has the highest authority for a task. This role can determine whether or not the task should be performed and who is responsible for performing it.

The Responsible role performs the work (and they are accountable for their own work).

Can one person have both the Accountable and the Responsible roles assigned? Yes. However, delegating the responsibility for performing the work assigns the Responsible role to someone else. The delegator remains as Accountable.

The Consulted role is a key stakeholder who should be included in decision or work activity. They must be consulted prior to a decision being made. They are not necessarily assigned responsibility to perform work on the task.

The Informed role needs to know of the decision or action of the work. They may have a dependency on the task to perform tasks that they have responsibility for. Thus, they must be informed of the decision or work activity afterwards.

Why is this Important?

Sometimes several workers are responsible for completing work on a project. How do we determine who is ultimately accountable for completing the work? Either someone performing the work or someone that they report to is going to be held accountable. Someone must be the project leader or work leader. It cannot be all of them if a decision must be made that impacts all of workers on the team. Thus, one person on the team is made accountable while the other team members are made responsible.

So keep in mind the difference between Accountable and Responsible.

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