Communication is one of the most important aspects of project management, if not the most important. However, the discussion of communication's importance is for another day. Today's topic deals with communicating who is doing what and one of the tools Project Managers have at their disposal, the RACI Chart.

Lets start with a brief explanation - RACI stands for Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, Informed. These are the 4 different roles people take on a project. Creating a matrix of team members and stakeholders along with their role - R or A or C or I - helps clarify who is doing what on a project or in a specific area of a project such as a work package.

RACI charts define the responsibilities and accountabilities for project work.

A person is Responsible if they are assigned tasks to do. Then they have specific responsibility to complete those tasks to the required specifications.

Sample RACI chart
RACI Chart Example

Accountable means that when things don't go right, this person is the one who has to answer for work not being completed as expected, within cost or on-time. To truly be accountable, they should be the one worrying if they will be demoted or fired when something goes wrong. As a general rule of thumb, only 1 person should be identified as Accountable.

A person with a C designation is Consulted for a particular area. That means they are given the opportunity to provide input on how things should be accomplished or what should be done. This person isn't responsible to complete the work and won't have their job or position at risk if things don't go correctly.

The last part of RACI is the I. This is the person who is Informed of status, activities, risks, problems, successes, etc. They are to be kept in the loop of what is going on in a particular area, therefore falling in the area of Informed. Communication flows to them, not from them for the particular area.

The RACI chart can be done at various levels of detail on a project. Starting with work packages from a work breakdown structure (WBS) works well for many projects. At times, going into more detail or less detail may be appropriate for a given project or team. The project manager or a PMO can help guide what the right level is for a particular project.

Complex projects, projects with large teams, or teams with members who don't value project management provide excellent opportunities to use a RACI chart.

A spreadsheet can be used to create a simple RACI Chart. Here is a link to a sample RACI-Template.

Do you use RACI charts? We've posted this topic on our blog Projects in a Simple Way - share your comments with us there.

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