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  • Isobel McEwan

What is RACI and how can it help your organisation?

Managing a large-scale project is rarely a walk in the park, with high stakes, multiple team members and potential challenges waiting around every corner. Yet despite the challenges inherent in project management, with planning and a clear division of labour and responsibility from the start, organisations can increase their efficiency, productivity, and capacity for innovation.


WHAT IS RACI?



RACI is one of many Responsibility Assignment Matrixes that outlines the specific roles and responsibilities to be undertaken by members of a project delivery team. The size, scale and very nature of the project can vary widely, but the technique allows organisations to plan, execute and deliver the intended outcomes on time and in budget.


RACI is a form of matrix, and is an acronym for the four roles it outlines: Responsible, Accountable, Consulted and Informed. These roles can be broadly understood as follows:


Responsible: This is the person who undertakes the work necessary to complete the task at hand. This can be subdivided into a number of supporting roles and the workload can be delegated, but the person Responsible still has to ensure this role is fulfilled.


Accountable: This is the individual who gives work to the Responsible, and ultimately signs off on the project or task once it is completed. This person is the one answerable for the successes and any potential mistakes a project can bring, and as such requires a certain commitment and obligation.


Consulted: This person, or often several people, can be consulted when an opinion is needed. These people are often specialists in their field or subject and can offer valuable input and communication on a given topic.


Informed: This person stays up to date with progress and receives regular updates on such matters. They rarely input on the finer details of the project, but their value lies in acting as an outside observer and time keeper for the delivery of the necessary results.


WHY USE RACI FOR PROJECT MANAGEMENT?


The question of why you should go to such trouble to assign roles for a project is a valid one, and one which is essential to consider if the full value of using the RACI model is to be understood.

Online knowledge bank Project Smart argues that ‘it is important that you set the expectations of people involved in your project from the outset.’ Team work can often lead to many personalities and ideas struggling against each other for influence and input, or conversely, to no one willing to take responsibility and ownership when tough decisions need to be made. Many of these problems are alleviated by using the RACI model from the outset, as everyone involved is aware from the start what role is required of them.

US business development director Matthew Inman explained this point further using a Star Wars analogy in his February LinkedIn article. Identifying the four key actors in the film and the three key objectives of the mission, Inman argued that a RACI matrix would have successfully created a division of responsibility and a more efficient path to the end goal of ‘destroying the Jedi.’


Star Wars aside, Inman’s underlying point that ‘the RACI Model ensures each task is assigned to the appropriate department. You shouldn’t ask human resources to do IT’s job’ is an important one. Different team members often have different skill sets and strengths and so applying this logic to the start of a project makes good sense.


RACI WORKSHOP


If all of this seems like a little daunting or you have never used a RACI matrix before, fear not, there is no cause for despair. One of the many workshops offered by think is a session called ‘A Bit RACI,’ which aims to ensure that your team is ready at the start of a project and each has a designated role to play. Rather than getting your head around a new business technique and the needs of your project, leave the technique to us and work with us to assign your team roles. I believe that success in innovation – as in all things – begins with perfect planning, and the RACI model is a great way to get started.

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