The project responsibility matrix is a fundamental mainstay not only for the Project Manager but for the entire Project Team.
Regardless of the size of the project, in order to prevent problems, task descriptions and role divisions need to be clearly set out.
Whether it’s a small team or an international collaboration, everyone must understand their role and know what they have to work on.
One method of defining the role of each team member is to use a project responsibility matrix also called the RACI matrix.
What is a project responsibility matrix?
In short, it is a charting system that depicts the objective of the activity and the action required for each individual.
This helps to reduce confusion about expectations, thus increasing the efficiency of the project.
In this way, decisions can be taken more quickly, the responsibility is clear and the workload can be distributed evenly.
What does the acronym RACI mean? :
The RACI matrix maps the activities and final results in relation to the roles in the project and responsibilities are assigned to each using the above terms.
“Responsible”: who should carry out the activity
This person carries out the activity at issue and is responsible for the work done. Sometimes it may be more than one person, but it is advisable to try to minimize the number of people involved.
“Accountable”: who owns the business
This person is in charge of the overall accomplishment of the activity. They don’t necessarily have to carry out the activity, but they are responsible for it being finalized. Ideally, this role should be assigned to one person rather than a group to avoid confusion about who actually owns the activity.
“Consulted”: who is consulted for the benefit of the activity.
This person, role or group will provide useful information to complete the activity.
“Informed”: who has to be informed about the activity
This person or group will be kept updated and informed about the activity and its delivery. These people are not asked to give feedback or reviews, but may be influenced by the outcome of the activity and the final result.
Benefits of a project responsibility matrix
A RACI matrix offers several advantages including:
1. Simplified communication
A RACI matrix in place can be useful to have a well defined reference during the life cycle of a project. Instead of involving every single person in every single decision, it is possible to simplify communication and reach the right people at the right time, thus accelerating the process.
2. Prevent overload of perspectives
When one gets opinions from any person, the situation can become complicated. This is how the distinction between those who are “consulted” and those who are “informed”, those who are involved in feedback and those who are not, becomes important.
3. Prevent work overload
The RACI matrix can be a useful tool to help delegate and prevent people burn-out.
4. Clear expectations setting
When creating a RACI at the outset of a project, a crucial element is to set expectations for those who are managing or responsible for the work to be done in the future, so that there are no nasty surprises afterwards.
When to use a project responsibility matrix
Is a project responsibility matrix useful in all projects? The answer is no.
Having too much complexity in relatively small and fast-moving projects can only slow things down and create obstacles.
So if the project team is small, roles are already well defined and/or a similar structure has been used successfully before, all you need to do is assign tasks to people without wasting time building a matrix.
However, for more complex projects with multiple stakeholders, not using a RACI matrix can lead to difficulties during the life cycle of a project.
The use of a responsibility matrix is a great way to avoid unexpected surprises and excessive involvement of stakeholders during the project which can then lead to delays in decisions and the project as a whole.
How to create a RACI matrix
The process for creating a RACI model includes these six steps:
- Identify all the activities involved in the project delivery and then list them on the left side of the chart in order of completion.
- Identify all project stakeholders and list them at the top of the chart.
- Fill in the model cells by identifying the role of each person according to the RACI concept – who is responsible, who is the owner, who is to be consulted and who is informed.
- Ensure that each activity has at least one responsible stakeholder.
- No activity should have more than one responsible stakeholder. Resolve any conflicts where there is more than one for a particular activity.
- Share, discuss and agree the RACI matrix with stakeholders at the beginning of the project and resolve any conflicts or ambiguities.
Ultimately, investing time to prepare a customized RACI matrix for each project is an opportunity to design the management process for the success of the project.
Surely a well-organized team is essential to successfully complete a project, but a matrix assignment of responsibilities is beneficial, if not vital, to achieve this goal.