What Is a RACI Chart? How to Use RACI to Define Project Roles
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.
- What is a RACI chart?
- What does RACI stand for?
- How a RACI model is used in project management
- How to create an Excel RACI matrix with template
- How to build a RACI chart online in TeamGantt
RACI matrix basics explained
Looking for a quick breakdown of the basics? Watch this video for a brief explainer of RACI definitions, uses, and examples.
What is a RACI chart?
A RACI chart—also known as a responsibility assignment matrix—is a simple diagram used in project management to map task roles and responsibilities.
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.
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.
RACI chart example
This sample RACI matrix gives you a quick glimpse at how roles and responsibilities come together for different project tasks.
What does RACI stand for?
RACI is an acronym that stands for Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, Informed. Each letter in RACI represents a level of task responsibility on a project.
RACI chart definition guide
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.
Now let’s define what each role in the RACI acronym means in a little more detail.
- 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?
- 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.
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.
- RASCI matrix: 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 chart: 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 responsibility matrix: 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.
How a RACI model is used in project management
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 chart for your project
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.
Best practices for using a RACI chart in project management
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:
- 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. (TeamGantt does this work for you by tying your RACI chart directly to your plan!)
- Keep RACI definitions close by because they can be tough to remember sometimes!
- Be sure to assign the Responsible team members to tasks in TeamGantt.
RACI matrix rules
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:
- 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.
How to create an Excel RACI matrix with template
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.
- List project tasks and deliverables in column A
- Add team members or project roles across row 1
- Insert a new worksheet for RACI roles and definitions
- Add a drop-down list of roles to your RACI matrix
- Assign a RACI value to everyone on every task
Step 1: List project tasks and deliverables in column A
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.
Step 2: Add team members or project roles across row 1
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.
Step 3: Insert a new worksheet for RACI roles and definitions
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.
Step 4: Add a drop-down list of roles to your RACI matrix
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.
Step 5: Assign a RACI value to everyone on every task
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.
RACI template Excel download
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!
How to build a RACI chart online in TeamGantt
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.
Assigning RACI roles and responsibilities to TeamGantt tasks
- Open your project, and toggle to the RACI tab. This will display all your project tasks in a list format (rows). On the right side of the chart, you’ll see a column for each person currently invited to the project with cells for each task in the project.
- Click the cell below each person who needs to be assigned a role on a task, and choose one of the RACI options from the drop-down.
Viewing RACI chart assignments for your project
There are 2 simple ways to view RACI assignments in TeamGantt:
- From the Gantt tab: If someone is assigned to a task and has a RACI role on that task, the RACI value will appear in parentheses next to that person’s name on the gantt chart. Just be aware that you won’t see RACI assignments for people who haven’t been assigned to a specific task in Gantt view.
- From the RACI tab: To access your project’s full RACI chart, simply toggle to the RACI tab for that project. You’ll find RACI assignments for every person playing a role—whether or not they’re the one responsible for doing the work.
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.