It’s a fact: Complex projects make it easy for teams to lose track of tasks.
You might have an air-tight project plan and a stellar team to back it up. But if you’re not crystal clear about assignments—or even involvement—on a task level, confusion, crankiness, and even demotivation will creep into your project team.
Lucky for you, avoiding those issues is as simple as creating a RACI chart.
In this article, we’ll explain what a RACI matrix is and how it’s used in project management. You’ll also learn how to make a RACI chart using our free Excel template or, even better, build RACI roles directly into your project plan using TeamGantt.
Looking for a quick breakdown of the basics? Watch this video for a brief explainer of RACI definitions, uses, and examples.
A RACI chart—also known as a RACI matrix or responsibility assignment matrix—is a simple diagram used in project management to map task roles and responsibilities.
RACI stands for:
Each letter in the RACI acronym defines the level of responsibility each person involved in a project will have on an individual task, milestone, or decision.
Using a RACI matrix for a project helps you eliminate confusion by identifying who’s doing what at a more granular level than simple task assignments.
Now let’s define what each role in the RACI acronym means in a little more detail.
This team member does the work to complete the task. Every task needs at least one Responsible party, but it’s okay to assign more.
This person delegates work and is the last one to review the task or deliverable before it’s deemed complete. On some tasks, the Responsible party may also serve as the Accountable one. Just be sure you only have one Accountable person assigned to each task or deliverable. (Note: It might not be your PM!)
Every deliverable is strengthened by review and consultation from more than one team member. Consulted parties are typically the people who provide input based on either how it will impact their future project work or their domain of expertise on the deliverable itself.
These team members simply need to be kept in the loop on project progress, rather than roped into the details of every deliverable.
This simple chart gives you an at-a-glance view of RACI meanings and how many people to assign to each role in your RACI matrix.
While the same person can be both Responsible and Accountable for a task in a RACI matrix, they’re not one and the same. So what’s the difference?
RACI isn’t the only responsibility assignment matrix out there. These RACI model alternatives provide a small sample of other approaches you might come across in project management.
Also sometimes called a RASIC chart, this RACI alternative adds one extra role into the responsibility assignment mix. In the RASCI model, the S stands for Supportive. While this role covers anyone who will lend the Responsible person a hand with the work, a Supportive team member isn’t responsible for the outcome.
DACI stands for Driver, Approver, Contributor, Informed and is used to outline decision-making roles and responsibilities for projects. In this framework, the project manager or leader typically serves as the Driver guiding the team to a decision.
RAPID stands for Recommend, Agree, Perform, Input, Decide and is another decision-making framework used to define authority vs accountability. The Recommend role kicks things off by suggesting an action, while the Decide role has the ultimate say in how things move forward.
At its core, a RACI matrix helps you set clear expectations about project roles and responsibilities. That way you don’t have multiple people working on the same task or against one another because tasks weren’t clearly defined on the front end.
A RACI matrix also encourages team members to take responsibility for their work—or defer to someone else when needed. Essentially, you’ll remove personal judgment and politics from your process and focus on your team’s ability to act responsibly within a framework you’ve created. Sounds pretty sweet, huh?
A RACI chart serves just about every project well. But it’s especially helpful when tasks require multiple resources, run concurrently, or depend on other tasks.
Here are a few scenarios when the RACI model is useful:
Of course, not all teams and projects are created equally. You might work with a team who just happens to communicate really well and stays on top of their own work. (Lucky you!) Or maybe your project is small enough that it would be silly to take the time to go through this exercise.
In cases like these, don’t worry about taking the extra step of creating a RACI matrix. Just be sure you have a clear plan in place to guide your team and project.
In a best-case scenario, you’d sit down with your team to walk through the role assignments on each task. But let’s be real: That’s not always possible.
Just be sure everyone represented on your RACI chart has acknowledged and agreed to the roles and responsibilities you’ve laid out. More importantly, you want to check that your matrix eliminates any further project confusion.
These best practices can help you get the most out of your RACI chart:
Using a RACI chart is a whole lot easier when you follow a few simple rules. Once your RACI chart is complete, review it to be sure it meets these criteria:
If you have a lot of Consulted and Informed roles on your matrix, make sure you have an easy and lightweight way to keep them informed. It could be as simple as making sure everyone has access to your project plan so they can follow progress along the way. Sharing a view-only link to your project in TeamGantt is a great option for looping in folks outside your organization.
Let’s take a closer look at how you might put the RACI model to practical use on a project.
Here’s a sample RACI chart for a project that involves delivering a slide deck for an upcoming presentation the marketing manager is giving. In this RACI matrix example, we’ve assigned RACI roles to 7 key team members.
Let’s zoom in on the RACI roles we mapped out for the Create content task example so you understand the why behind these assignments.
Task: Create content
Lots of people use Excel to make a RACI chart for their projects. To build a RACI matrix in Excel, simply follow these 5 steps, using the examples below as your guide.
First, make a list of all the work that needs to be done for your project down the left side of your RACI chart. Enter each project task, milestone, or decision in column A of your Excel worksheet.
Feel free to group tasks by project phase like we’ve done in the RACI chart example below. That way, your RACI matrix is easy to scan and read.
Starting with column B, label each column header with the name of a team member and/or project role.
Include the people who will execute and review work for the project, as well as any subject matter experts or stakeholders you may need to consult or keep in the loop along the way.
Click Insert >Insert Sheet from the Home ribbon at the top of your Excel workbook.
Go to your new worksheet, and list each letter of the RACI acronym in column A. Then enter the corresponding role for each letter in column B and their definitions in column C, like we’ve done in the example below.
This worksheet provides a handy reference in case you or your teammates need a refresher on RACI roles and definitions. We’ll also use it to populate a drop-down list on your main worksheet to make it easier to assign RACI roles quickly.
Now, go back to your main worksheet, and click into the first open cell in your RACI chart.
On the ribbon, click Data >Data validation to insert a drop-down list with RACI roles.
On the Settings tab, choose List under the Allow menu.
Click into the Source field, then highlight the data range with your RACI options from the RACI Roles & Definitions worksheet you set up in Step 3. We highlighted cells A2-A5 in our example.
Verify your Data validation settings are correct, then hit Enter to add the drop-down list to your selected cell.
Copy and paste that cell to apply the drop-down list to other cells in your RACI matrix worksheet.
You’re finally ready to fill out your RACI chart!
Go down the list of tasks on your RACI matrix, and assign a role to every person who will be involved in that project step or deliverable.
Want to build an Excel RACI chart of your own, but don't want to start from scratch? Download this blank RACI chart template for free!
TeamGantt makes mapping task roles and responsibilities simple by building a RACI chart right into your project plan. Not only does that save you time and paperwork, but it also ensures everyone always has easy access to your RACI matrix online.
Here’s how to use TeamGantt’s RACI feature for your next project.
There are 2 simple ways to view RACI assignments in TeamGantt:
A RACI chart is a simple tool that makes projects easier to manage by creating less confusion and more accountability. But you’ve got more than roles and responsibilities to keep straight.
TeamGantt makes it easy to build a project plan your whole team can contribute to and collaborate on, with RACI assignments built right in. And because everything happens online, you can stay on top of deadlines and keep up with project progress in real time.