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Project Management

RACI Charts Explained: Definitions, Example, & Template

Brett Harned
September 20, 2021
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RACI chart template

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.

VIDEO - RACI Matrix Basics Explained

RACI definitions and uses

Let’s start with the basics and break down what a RACI chart is, what the RACI acronym means, and how a RACI matrix is used in project management.

What is a RACI chart?

A RACI chart—also known as a responsibility assignment matrix—is a simple roles and responsibilities diagram 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.

Using a RACI chart to map roles and responsibilities for a project helps you eliminate confusion and answer the age-old project question, Who’s doing what?

See how TeamGantt's built-in RACI chart feature works.

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.

Let’s take a moment to define what each role in the RACI acronym means.

RACI roles

  • 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.
RACI chart definitions: Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, and Informed

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.

An easy way to build better accountability

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What is the RACI model used for?

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.

See the difference a well-thought-out plan can make.

How to make a RACI chart in Excel: Example and template

Lots of people use Excel to make a RACI chart for their projects. To build a RACI matrix in Excel, simply follow these 3 steps, using the RACI chart example below as your guide:

  1. Enter all project roles or team member names across the top row.
  2. List all tasks, milestones, and decisions down the left column.
  3. For each task, assign a RACI value to each role or person on the team.

RACI chart example

This sample RACI matrix gives you a quick glimpse at how all the pieces and parts come together.

RACi matrix example

RACI template Excel download

Want to build an Excel RACI chart of your own? Download this blank RACI chart template for free!

Free Excel RACI matrix template screenshot

How to build a RACI chart 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. 

Here’s how to use TeamGantt’s RACI feature for your next project.

Assigning RACI roles and responsibilities to TeamGantt tasks

  1. 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. 
  2. 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.
How to assign RACI chart roles to tasks in TeamGantt

Viewing RACI chart assignments for your project

There are 2 simple ways to view RACI assignments in TeamGantt:

  1. 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.
How to view RACI assignments in your gantt chart in TeamGantt
  1. 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.
RACI tab example for a project in TeamGantt

Best practices for using a RACI matrix 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 matrix directly to your gantt chart!
  • Keep RACI definitions close by because they can be tough to remember sometimes!
  • Be sure to assign 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.

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.

Try TeamGantt for free today!

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