When it comes to project management and team collaboration, the RACI matrix (or chart) has long been a staple. Most commonly known for clarifying roles and responsibilities within a project, the RACI matrix has proven to be an effective means of clarifying who is Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, and Informed for each task or decision. Charts that define roles and responsibilities come in many variations—there are 17 versions discussed on this Wikipedia page alone—but they are almost always considered the sole purview of the project manager.
However, the versatility of a RACI matrix extends beyond traditional applications and the work of project managers. A recent study by McKinsey showed that organizations that “…make good decisions fast, [and] execute them quickly… see higher growth rates and/or overall returns from their decisions.”
Here are three uses for a RACI matrix that you may not have considered, and all of them will ultimately help you execute faster:
Roles and responsibilities for a new hire
When hiring a new team member, particularly for a new role, clarity on responsibilities is essential. A RACI matrix can be used as a framework to map out the tasks, decisions, and areas of influence associated with the new role. And by involving relevant team members in the creation of the RACI, you can gather valuable input to ensure a comprehensive representation of the responsibilities of the job. This not only helps the hiring process, including writing a strong job description, but also aids in onboarding new team members, providing them with a guide to navigate their new responsibilities, better collaborate with their peers, and, you guessed it: get up to speed quickly.
Designing a process
Designing a process—such as the approval workflow to publish a new blog post—is much easier if each step is documented, including the related roles and responsibilities. A fast way to do this is first to make a flow chart describing the process, assign numbers to each step, and then create a RACI based on each numbered step and the related roles. This approach allows you to quickly define requirements, such as prerequisites for approvals, stakeholder notifications, and the content of the notifications. And after the process is implemented, the RACI serves as an easy way to understand how the system works when stakeholders are added or removed.
Creating a RACI matrix at the proposal stage of a project helps to understand the scope of work by identifying the assumed key stakeholders and their roles and responsibilities as they are understood at the time. Sure, at this stage, you risk getting more wrong than right, but a RACI allows everyone to see how you are thinking about roles and responsibilities and how that influences the scope of work while it's still being written. After approval, key stakeholders can collaborate on refining the RACI and quickly get the project up and running because they already have a shared point of reference for roles and responsibilities.
A RACI matrix—or any of its many variations—is one of the most valuable project management tools. Its simplicity and versatility make it useful in many contexts beyond those discussed here. Ultimately the time you invest in creating a RACI pays big dividends, because clarity around roles and responsibilities translates directly to better and faster execution.