Lean Six Sigma Project Management

9 minute read

The RACI Matrix (Free Template Included)

Cody Steele

Cody Steele

RACI matrix definition

The RACI matrix is a tool that organizes project activities by the roles that people will play. The acronym RACI is a mnemonic for remembering the roles:

The RACI matrix is commonly used in Lean Six Sigma and project management, and is also called a RACI chart.

Each role is covered in more detail below.

Download your free RACI matrix template

Use this RACI matrix template to save time on your next project

When to use a RACI matrix

Use a RACI matrix at the beginning of a project as a planning tool to help make sure that the right people are ready to work on activities, to contribute to activities, and to be informed about activities.


RACI matrix


When you find omissions, adding positions or people to the RACI matrix can help make sure that the same omission does not occur later. Creating the RACI matrix at the beginning of a project can also help create a culture where you routinely identify and speak in terms of people being Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, and Informed.

Defining the RACI roles routinely is a good way to drive activities and projects towards completion.

RACI matrix

RACI matrix roles

One of the important outcomes of completing a RACI matrix is to make sure that all of the activities have the right coverage. 

  • Typically, each person has only one role for any activity. On occasion, someone will be both Accountable and Responsible or both Consulted and Informed. 
  • A role can have several people for one activity. It’s quite common for many people to need to be informed or consulted to finish an activity. 
  • Some activities will also need several people who are Responsible to do enough work to finish the activity on time.
  • For some activities, a person will not have any role. 
  • Someone who needs to be consulted for a specific activity might not need to be involved for any of the other activities. 

Here is a breakdown of each of the RACI matrix roles:

Responsible

One way to describe the role of a responsible person is that they start and end an activity that needs to be finished for the project to succeed. 

That typically means that the person does all of the work that comes in between, although for a given task you may have several people who are Responsible. Making a record of who’s Responsible for an activity should make it clear whether you have the right skills in place to cover what needs to be done. 

The work of the Responsible person includes consulting people who are in the Consulted role and informing the people who are in the Informed role.

Accountable

For every task, only one person is Accountable. While it might seem strange that the Responsible person is not always the person who is Accountable for the work, the purpose of the Accountable role on the RACI matrix is that someone needs to have ultimate responsibility. 

In many cases, the person who is Accountable will identify the people that they need to be Responsible, selecting a team that can complete the activity. On a small team or for a small enough activity, it’s acceptable for the same person to be both Responsible and Accountable. 

When questions arise about an activity, the Accountable person should be able to provide answers.

Consulted

Consulted individuals typically have knowledge that the Responsible people need to complete their work. Although the Consulted role might make it sound like communication goes one direction, it’s rare that the person in the Consulted role wouldn’t be able to ask questions and pull information from the Responsible people, too.

People in the Consulted role are often subject matter experts who can answer questions that clarify requirements. For example, in a healthcare setting where the activity is to fabricate a tray with molded settings for tools someone would want for a medical procedure. The fabricator could consult with nurses and physicians to verify that the correct tools had been identified and that the layout of the tools made sense.

RACI matrix

Informed

It’s easy to see why different people would need to be informed about particular activities. When activities are dependent on each other, then the Responsible and Accountable people for the subsequent activities need to know when they can begin. 

Other people who need to be aware of the project’s status will need to be informed so that they can work on higher-level plans and know when to expect the benefits of the project. While people who are Responsible and Accountable might both provide information to those in the Informed role, those in the Informed role will usually begin with the Accountable person if they need information about an activity between information sessions.

RACI matrix rules and best practices

The RACI matrix is supposed to be a tool that makes things easy to remember at a glance. As such, the rules that you use with it are intended to be simple so that overall the tool reduces complexity. Consider the following when you make a RACI matrix:

  • Each activity has only one accountable person.
  • Each activity has at least one responsible person.

Because the RACI matrix is a simple visual tool, you’ll often use it in conjunction with other tools. For example, the activities could come from a Gantt chart, and the people who fill the roles could come from a stakeholder chart. 

Different people will disagree on whether or not there should be blank cells in the matrix. However, the trend is generally towards deciding that not everyone needs to be informed about every activity. This means that someone who consults on one activity does not have to be informed about every activity in the project. 

In the event that you prefer every cell to be complete, make sure that you have thought of an easy way to quickly and easily communicate with everyone in an Informed role.

Because the RACI matrix is a visual tool, it should at a glance help you make two determinations: 

  1. Does any single person have too many assignments of R? 

If so, the project could run into bottlenecks or be sensitive to the dependency on one person. If that’s the case, see if there’s a way to distribute the Responsible role among more people.

  1. Does any single activity have too many assignments of C? 

If an activity requires too many consultations to be complete, consider whether the work has been properly defined. It might be that further definition of the activity needs to be completed so that those who will be Responsible and Accountable can do their part. Also consider whether any of the consultations are redundant.

If multiple people will give the same or similar information, the activity can be finished more efficiently by assigning fewer people to the Consulted role. If concerns arise about someone not being consulted, consider whether they can be in an Informed role. That way, they can step in if needed.

RACI matrix example

The following RACI matrix is from a case study about a data migration project from an international retailer. Because the matrix is at a high level, teams replace people, but typical rules still apply. 

The matrix identifies who needs to work on an activity to complete it. Only one team is ultimately responsible for each activity. The matrix creates a record of everyone who needs to be consulted to complete the activity successfully. The matrix also keeps a record of everyone who needs to be informed about the activity.

RACI matrix example

How to create a RACI matrix

At its basic level, a RACI matrix is a table of people and activities. Because the RACI matrix is a simple visual tool, it lends itself to tools where you can create a table, such as Microsoft Excel.

Enter the activities as the row labels and the people who can be in each roll as the column labels and you’re set to go.

RACI matrix template

Download your free RACI matrix template

Use this RACI matrix template to save time on your next project

This RACI matrix template includes both a matrix with sample data and a blank template. You can adapt either sheet for your organization as needed. 

Columns up to Z are preformatted for people. Rows to 100 are preformatted for activities. Row 2 will count the number of times a person is Responsible (values of R or A/R). 

That way, you can determine if someone is responsible too often. If a row does not have only one person who is Accountable, then the row is highlighted yellow to indicate that the Accountable role needs to be identified.

RACI matrix template

Learn more

The RACI matrix is one of many tools that you can use for better planning and accountability in your team projects.

To learn more essential tools and techniques, check out GoSkills’ range of project management and Lean Six Sigma courses today.

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Cody Steele

Cody Steele

Cody is a technical communicator and statistician who wants to help people collect the right data and analyze it to make informed decisions. His specialities include statistics, technical communication, statistical reliability, JMP, SAS, and writing for translation.

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