How to Use the Responsibility Assignment Matrix―The RACI Matrix Definition

Apr 25, 2022 2 min read
How to Use the Responsibility Assignment Matrix―The RACI Matrix Definition

The responsibility assignment matrix or RACI matrix is a useful project planning tool. Yet, we often see it used incorrectly.

Let’s keep things simple and offer a concise RACI matrix definition… that makes it clear who does what.

How to Use the Responsibility Assignment Matrix

This is really straightforward! Take a minute, and you’ll get it right every time.
And, people will be certain what role they fulfil in the project or business change endeavour.

The RACI Matrix Definition

We use the responsibility assignment matrix or RACI matrix when we need to make clear the roles in projects or processes. There are four key roles defined in the RACI matrix. These are:

  1. Responsible: the person who does something as part of their job or role to do a specific task or activity.
  2. Accountable: the person who is expected to justify actions taken or decisions made to deliver the completed task or activity.
  3. Consulted: the person responsible for the task or activity seeks the opinions of various stakeholder groups or people.
  4. Informed: those groups or people that should be kept up-to-date on progress with the task or activity.

Correct Use of the RACI Matrix

When we prepare a responsibility assignment matrix, we need to remember the following rules… every time:

  • the roles that are responsible and accountable are only ever assigned to one person,
  • occasionally the role that is accountable for a task is also responsible for achieving it―in such circumstances we omit the responsible role since this is implied,
  • withstanding the previous exception, all roles are mutually exclusive―for instance, you cannot have roles that are both responsible and consulted, or consulted and informed,
  • the responsible role seeks advice from the consultedthis involves two-way communication,
  • the responsible role updates the informedthis is a one-way communication, and
  • responsible roles may delegate tasks to others in their team.

If you break these simple rules, you create uncertainty and confusion. And, when someone is responsible for something, be sure they have the necessary authority to make it happen.

To illustrate how a poorly constructed RACI matrix can lead to conflict, use this image search from DuckDuckGo. These demonstrate both proper and improper use of the responsibility assignment matrix or RACI matrix.

Can you spot the incorrect use of the RACI matrix?

When do you use the responsibility assignment matrix or RACI matrix?

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