RACI Charts Explained [Definition, Template, & Example]
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.
What is a RACI chart?
A RACI chart—also known as a responsibility assignment matrix—is a simple roles and responsibilities matrix used in project management. A RACI chart defines whether the people involved in a project activity will be Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, or Informed for the corresponding task, milestone, or decision.
By using a RACI chart to map roles and responsibilities for a project, you can eliminate confusion and answer the age-old project question, Who’s doing what?
What does RACI stand for?
RACI stands for Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, Informed. Each letter in the RACI acronym represents a level of task responsibility on a project.
Let’s take a moment to define the 4 roles used to assign responsibilities in a RACI matrix.
- Responsible: 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.
- Accountable: 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!)
- Consulted: 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.
- Informed: These team members simply need to be kept in the loop on project progress, rather than roped into the details of every deliverable.
Understanding Responsible vs Accountable in the RACI model
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?
In the RACI model, Responsible is a task-oriented designation that applies to the person (or people) actually completing the work. A whole team can be responsible for the execution of one task.
Accountable is an outcome-oriented designation that applies to a single person who reports on the work, whether in status updates or upon delivery. Being Accountable means you must answer for and/or sign off on the deliverable and deal with the consequences if it falls short of goals.
Benefits of a RACI chart
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?
When to use a RACI matrix
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 a RACI roles and responsibilities matrix is useful:
- The decision-making or approval process could hold up the project.
- There’s conflict about task ownership or decision-making.
- The project workload feels like it’s not distributed evenly.
- You experience turnover on a team and need to onboard someone quickly to a new role.
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.
How to create a RACI matrix: Example & template
You can make a RACI matrix quickly and easily in your favorite spreadsheet app. Simply follow these 3 steps, using the RACI chart example below as your guide:
- Step 1: Enter all project roles or team member names across the top row.
- Step 2: List all tasks, milestones, and decisions down the left column.
- Step 3: For each task, assign a responsibility value to each role or person on the team.
RACI chart example
This sample RACI chart gives you a quick glimpse at how all the pieces and parts come together.
Download a free Excel RACI matrix template
Ready to make a RACI chart of your own? We built a totally free RACI template in Excel to help you save time and effort on setup.
Quick tips for optimizing your RACI chart
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 tips can help you get the most out of your RACI chart:
- Focus on project tasks, milestones, and decisions in the RACI matrix. Avoid generic or administrative to-dos like team meetings or status reports.
- Align the tasks in your RACI chart with your project plan so there’s no confusion about details and due dates. (Save time by exporting a CSV file of your project from TeamGantt and copying the task list over to your RACI chart.)
- Keep RACI definitions close by—or even in your doc—because they can be tough to remember sometimes!
- Be sure to assign the proper team members to tasks in TeamGantt. We also recommend adding RACI assignments to the task notes so everyone’s clear about roles and responsibilities.
RACI matrix rules
Once your RACI chart is complete, review it to be sure it follows these simple rules:
- Every task has at least one Responsible person.
- There’s one (and only one!) Accountable party assigned to each task to allow for clear decision-making.
- No team members are overloaded with too many Responsible tasks.
- Every team member has a role on each task. (It’s not uncommon for some folks to be Informed on most tasks.)
- 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.
Keep your team in sync with 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. And because everything happens online, you can stay on top of deadlines and keep up with project progress in real time.