Also called: Responsibility Assignment Matrix (RAM), RACI Chart, RACI Table, and Responsibility Matrix
See also: DACI Decision-Making Framework
Relevant metrics: Completeness of mapping, Clarity of roles and responsibilities, Consistency in roles and responsibilities, Participation of stakeholders, and Effectiveness in facilitation
What is the RACI Matrix?
A RACI matrix is a tool used to define roles and responsibilities for a project or process. It stands for Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, and Informed. The Responsible party is the one who does the work, the Accountable party is the one who is ultimately responsible for the outcome, the Consulted party is the one who provides input and advice, and the Informed party is the one who is kept up to date on progress.
Responsible refers to the individual or team that is responsible for completing the task. Accountable refers to the individual or team that is ultimately responsible for the success or failure of the task. Consulted refers to the individual or team that provides input and advice on the task. Informed refers to the individual or team that is kept up to date on the progress of the task.
Where did RACI Matrix come from?
The term RACI Matrix is derived from the acronym RACI, which stands for Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, and Informed. The RACI Matrix is a tool used to define roles and responsibilities in a project or process. It is used to ensure that all stakeholders are aware of their roles and responsibilities in the project or process.
The RACI Matrix was first developed in the 1970s by James R. Robinson, a management consultant. Robinson developed the RACI Matrix as a way to help organizations better define roles and responsibilities in a project or process. The RACI Matrix has since become a widely used tool in project management and process improvement.
Using the RACI Matrix
The RACI Matrix is a powerful tool for pproduct managers to ensure that all stakeholders are aware of their roles and responsibilities in a project. It is a visual representation of the roles and responsibilities of each individual involved in a deliverable, and it can be used to ensure that everyone is on the same page and that tasks are completed in a timely manner. The RACI Matrix is especially useful for large deliverables with multiple stakeholders, as it allows product managers to quickly identify who is responsible for what tasks and who needs to be consulted for decisions.
- Identify potential conflicts between stakeholders. By clearly defining the roles and responsibilities of each individual, product managers can quickly identify any potential conflicts and address them before they become an issue. This helps to ensure that the project is completed on time and within budget.
- Create awareness of roles and responsibilities. By clearly defining the roles and responsibilities of each individual, product managers can ensure that everyone is on the same page and that tasks are completed in a timely manner. This helps to ensure that the deliverable is completed on time and within budget.
How to create a RACI Matrix
Creating a RACI Matrix is a simple process. First, identify all stakeholders involved in the project or process. Then, assign each stakeholder a role of Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, or Informed. Finally, document the roles and responsibilities of each stakeholder in the RACI Matrix.
A RACI Matrix can be used in a variety of situations. For example, it can be used to define roles and responsibilities for a deliverable or process in a product team. It can also be used to ensure that all stakeholders are consulted and informed throughout the project or process.
Defining Role Involvement
The four levels of role involvement in the RACI matrix are as follows:
- Responsible: The person or team member who completes the task. There can be more than one person responsible for any task in product development, depending on the complexity and scope of the task. For example, a user researcher might be responsible for running a quantitative usability test during the iteration and optimization phase of product development.
- Accountable: The person who provides final review and determines whether and when the task is completed. Accountability is essential for an organization and team to function effectively. Without it, it can be challenging to get people to take ownership and get things done. For example, when running a usability test, a UX lead or researcher might be accountable for the overall completion of the study, while also responsible for recruitment, preparing the study protocol, facilitating sessions, and analyzing results.
- Consulted: The people who provide input and expertise on the task. There are typically multiple people from various disciplines and levels who are consulted, depending on the phase of product development and activities involved. For example, in a usability test, a UX manager might be consulted by the UX lead to get feedback on the study protocol and identify other members of the UX team who could benefit from the research findings.
- Informed: The people who are kept aware of progress as the task is worked on. Informed parties could include stakeholders, leadership, and other product teams who may be impacted by the work. In smaller organizations, this could even include the CEO.
By providing a clear picture of each person’s role and responsibility, the matrix can help teams work together more efficiently and achieve better outcomes.
When and why to use a RACI matrix
Failure to openly consider and discuss the intricacies of product development and the individuals involved can lead to chaos, confusion, and overlap in work, resulting in a host of issues including neglecting key roles, involvement at inappropriate stages, and incorrect assumptions. These oversights, while unintentional, can be detrimental, ultimately wasting time as teams must realign at a later stage. To avoid such complications, consider introducing a RACI matrix into the product development process at opportune times.
There are two opportune times to introduce a RACI into the product development process. Firstly, after any retrospectives where roles or individuals have been omitted or included too late. Secondly, at the outset of a new Scrum sprint, product increment, or project. The entire team should participate in the RACI exercise, whether through virtual means or in-person meetings. UX professionals can take the lead in advocating for its use and introducing the RACI as an experiment.
The RACI has proven to be particularly beneficial in the strategic context setting and discovery research planning phases of product development. These are stages in the process where roles are commonly overlooked, and responsibilities are unclear. A RACI matrix can provide answers to common questions such as who is responsible for conducting user and stakeholder interviews, competitive analysis and usability testing, and who should be involved in ideation sessions, among others.
Best practices for applying the RACI matrix
Avoid making the same mistakes as product managers before you. Here are a list of tips from our mentors.
- Ensure that every task includes the roles of Responsible and Accountable, which should be explicitly defined and identified.
- For simple tasks, the same person can be accountable and responsible.
- Accountability should only rest with one person, as assigning multiple people as accountable can lead to confusion.
- Similarly, for the responsible role, avoid assigning more than two people to prevent duplication of work.
- Avoid using groups of people instead of individual roles or named people, as a group cannot be accountable for actionable tasks or activities.
- Communicate effectively with all stakeholders to ensure that everyone understands their role and responsibilities.
- Preemptively address conflicts that may arise to avoid delays and confusion later on.
- Distribute project workload evenly among team members to ensure that no one is overburdened.
- Include major tasks or milestones only in the RACI matrix, as it focuses on key project milestones rather than routine tasks. Streamline the matrix by removing generic activities like weekly meetings.
- Repeat wording from the project plan to maintain consistency and clarity in the RACI chart. Repeating the same names for milestones and tasks allows stakeholders to identify deadlines and gather relevant details efficiently.
- Avoid assigning too many stakeholders, as it may cause delays. In some cases, assigning the same responsibility to multiple people may be necessary to ensure essential feedback is received.
- Analyze patterns to avoid overburdening participants. Ensure that the matrix reflects at least some empty spaces for each role. If some roles are accountable for the majority of tasks, consider whether other departments can take on some of the high-level responsibility.
- Ensure that responsibilities match the qualifications of the participant before assigning them to a task. Avoid assigning multiple senior-level participants to complete a single lower-level task.
- Update the RACI chart as necessary to allow for flexibility as projects and stakeholders evolve. If changes are made, inform all participants and provide an updated matrix immediately.
What are alternatives to using the RACI matrix?
While the RACI matrix is a popular project management tool, it’s not always the best option for every situation. Thankfully, there are several alternatives to the RACI matrix that can be used to help teams manage their projects more effectively. For example, the RASCI chart is a similar tool that includes designated roles for individuals who support those responsible for managing or completing tasks. CARS reduces the amount of information stakeholders need to know by designating specific supportive roles. The RAS model simplifies the CARS model by eliminating the step of gathering information from external parties. DACI replaces the language used in RACI with more specific action-based terms, while the CLAM model aims to clarify some of the terminology used in RACI. By exploring these alternatives, project managers can choose the best tool to help their teams make better decisions and manage their projects more efficiently.
RASCI stands for responsible, accountable, supportive, consulted, and informed. Similar to RACI, this chart designates roles for different team members, but it also includes supportive roles for those who assist the responsible parties. This makes it clearer who is actually performing the work versus who is just providing information.
CARS stands for communicate, approve, responsible, and support. This model designates specific supportive roles and reduces the amount of information that stakeholders need to know. It also clarifies the decision-making process by designating the person who receives the approved designation as the decision-maker.
RAS stands for responsible, approve, and support. This is a simplified version of the CARS model that eliminates the need for information gathering from external parties.
DACI stands for drivers, approvers, contributors, and informed. This model is highly similar to the RACI chart but replaces the language used in RACI with more specific action-based terms.
CLAM stands for contribute, lead, approve, and monitor. This model is similar to RACI but aims to clarify some of its terminology. For example, the “contribute” designation refers to individuals who are both consulted and conduct the work.
Frequently asked questions about the RACI matrix
What is difference between responsible and accountable in RACI?
In RACI, “Responsible” and “Accountable” are two distinct roles. “Responsible” refers to the person or people who are directly responsible for completing a task or activity. They are the ones who are responsible for doing the work and ensuring that it is completed on time and to the required standard.
On the other hand, “Accountable” refers to the person who is ultimately responsible for the task or activity. They are the ones who are responsible for ensuring that the work is completed and that it meets the required standards. This person has the authority to make decisions related to the task or activity and is responsible for the overall success or failure of the project.
To summarize, “Responsible” refers to the person or people who perform the task, while “Accountable” refers to the person who is responsible for ensuring that the task is completed successfully.
Can one person be both accountable and responsible in RACI?
No, in RACI, the accountable and responsible roles are distinct and cannot be held by the same person. The accountable role is responsible for making decisions and ensuring that the task is completed successfully, while the responsible role is responsible for performing the work and ensuring that it is completed on time and within specifications.
These roles are designed to provide checks and balances within a project and ensure that there is clear accountability and responsibility for each task. If one person held both roles, it would create a conflict of interest and could potentially compromise the success of the project.
Does the RACI Matrix allow flexibility?
One of the strengths of the RACI matrix is its flexibility. Organizations can customize the matrix to suit their specific needs, defining their own roles and tasks. By doing so, they can achieve greater clarity and efficiency, which are essential for project success.
What kind of roles can I input into a RACI Matrix?
In order to effectively manage tasks in product development, it is essential to clearly define roles and responsibilities for all team members involved.
- Product Designers. responsible for both UX research and design, product designers create the visual and interactive components of a product.
- UX Researchers. focused on understanding user behavior, attitudes, and motivations, UX researchers help inform design decisions with data-driven insights.
- UX Designers. responsible for designing the overall user experience, including information architecture, wireframing, and interaction design.
- Content and Copy Writers. tasked with creating the content and messaging within a product, content and copy writers ensure that the language is clear, concise, and consistent with the brand.
- Information Architects. responsible for organizing and structuring information within a product, information architects help ensure that users can find what they need quickly and easily.
- Customer-Experience Roles. focused on understanding and improving the end-to-end customer experience, customer-experience roles help ensure that the product meets customer needs and expectations.
- UX Managers. responsible for managing the UX team, UX managers oversee the UX process from research to design to implementation, ensuring that everything runs smoothly and efficiently.
- Product Managers. responsible for defining the product strategy, setting priorities, and ensuring that the product meets business objectives.
- Product Owners. responsible for defining the product backlog, working closely with the development team to ensure that features are implemented correctly and on time.
- Engineers. responsible for building the product, engineers work closely with UX designers and researchers to ensure that the product is technically feasible and meets user needs.
- Scrum Masters. responsible for ensuring that the Scrum process is followed, Scrum masters facilitate communication between the development team, product owner, and stakeholders.
- Business Analysts. responsible for analyzing business requirements and translating them into product requirements, business analysts help ensure that the product meets both user and business needs.
Partner & stakeholder roles
- Customers. Involving customers in the RACI matrix can help ensure that their needs and requirements are being considered throughout the product development process. This can include gathering feedback, conducting user testing, and involving customers in beta testing.
- Sales and Marketing. These teams can help with product positioning, messaging, and go-to-market strategies. They can also provide insights on customer needs and preferences, which can inform product development.
- Support. Including support teams in the RACI matrix can help ensure that they are prepared to provide assistance when the product is released. They can also provide valuable feedback on customer issues and areas for improvement.
- Legal and Compliance. Ensuring that legal and compliance requirements are being met is critical for any SaaS product. Including these teams in the RACI matrix can help ensure that all necessary steps are being taken to comply with regulations and protect the company and its customers.
- Finance. Financial considerations are important in any SaaS product. Involving finance teams in the RACI matrix can help ensure that the product is being developed within budget and that financial goals are being met. They can also provide insights on pricing strategies and revenue projections.
What kind of tasks can I input into a RACI Matrix?
Using a RACI matrix in product development involves identifying the tasks that should be assigned to the appropriate individuals or roles. Here are some examples of tasks that can be included in the RACI matrix, grouped by product-development phase:
Setting strategic context
- Developing a clear vision for the product
- Defining the goals that the product should achieve
- Creating a strategy and roadmap to achieve those goals
- Conducting user interviews to understand their needs and preferences
- Conducting stakeholder interviews to understand their expectations and requirements
- Observing users in their natural contexts to gain insights
- Mapping the user journey to identify pain points and opportunities for improvement
- Brainstorming and ideation to generate creative solutions
- Creating prototypes to test and refine ideas
- Conducting usability testing to gather feedback and make improvements
- Planning and coordinating the release of product features and updates
- Conducting quality assurance testing to ensure product functionality and usability
- Demonstrating the product to stakeholders and end users to gather feedback and ensure satisfaction
Even though RACI matrices are typically used in project management to track task completion, they can also be effective in product management to ensure that the right individuals or roles are involved in each task and contributing effectively. It’s important to note that the use of RACI matrices is not intended to promote a rigid, waterfall-style approach to product development, but rather to support efficient delivery of value to end users.
Benefits and challenges of applying a RACI Matrix
- Improved Accountability. A RACI Matrix helps to clearly define roles and responsibilities, ensuring that everyone is aware of their tasks and who is responsible for them. This helps to ensure that tasks are completed on time and that everyone is held accountable for their actions.
- Improved Communication. A RACI Matrix helps to ensure that everyone is on the same page when it comes to tasks and responsibilities. This helps to reduce confusion and improve communication between team members.
- Improved Collaboration. A RACI Matrix helps to foster collaboration between team members, as everyone is aware of their roles and responsibilities. This helps to ensure that tasks are completed in a timely manner and that everyone is working together towards a common goal.
- Understanding the Roles. A RACI Matrix requires a clear understanding of the roles and responsibilities of each team member. Without this, it can be difficult to assign tasks and responsibilities accurately.
- Communication. A RACI Matrix requires clear communication between team members to ensure that everyone is on the same page. Without this, tasks may be assigned to the wrong people or not completed in a timely manner.
- Time Commitment. Implementing a RACI Matrix requires a significant time commitment from all team members. This can be difficult to manage if team members are already stretched thin.
- Change Management. Appying a RACI Matrix could potentially reveal gaps that would requires a significant change in the way that tasks are assigned and managed, if it was to be mitigated.
What is the purpose of the RACI Matrix?
Hint The purpose of the RACI Matrix is to provide a clear definition of roles and responsibilities for a project.
What tasks or activities will be included in the RACI Matrix?
Hint Tasks or activities included in the RACI Matrix will depend on the project, but typically include decisions, tasks, and activities that need to be completed.
Who are the stakeholders involved in the project?
Hint Stakeholders involved in the project will depend on the project, but typically include the project manager, team members, and other stakeholders who have an interest in the project.
What roles and responsibilities need to be assigned to each stakeholder?
Hint Roles and responsibilities need to be assigned to each stakeholder based on their involvement in the project.
How will the RACI Matrix be used to ensure accountability?
Hint The RACI Matrix can be used to ensure accountability by clearly defining who is responsible for each task or activity.
How will the RACI Matrix be monitored and updated?
Hint The RACI Matrix should be monitored and updated regularly to ensure that roles and responsibilities are being fulfilled.
What are the potential risks associated with using the RACI Matrix?
Hint Potential risks associated with using the RACI Matrix include miscommunication, lack of clarity, and lack of accountability.
You might also be interested in reading up on:
- Performance Consulting: A Practical Guide for HR and Learning Professionals by Dana Gaines Robinson, James C Robinson (2008)
- The RACI Matrix: A Tool for Clarifying Roles and Responsibilities by Henry Stewart (2019)
- RACI Matrix A Complete Guide by Gerardus Blokdyk (2021)
- Technology Strategy Patterns: Architecture as Strategy by Eben Hewitt (2018)
Want to learn more?
Receive a hand picked list of the best reads on building products that matter every week. Curated by Anders Toxboe. Published every Tuesday.
No spam! Unsubscribe with a single click at any time.
Product Loop provides an opportunity for Product professionals and their peers to exchange ideas and experiences about Product Design, Development and Management, Business Modelling, Metrics, User Experience and all the other things that get us excited.Join our community
Made with in Copenhagen, Denmark
Want to learn more about about good product development, then browse our product playbooks.