In the field of software development, RASCI is an important project management tool. If you are one of those people who have never heard of the term ‘RASCI’ or ‘RACI’, here’s a hypothetical situation for you.
Imagine you are part of a group of people who have been assigned to complete a huge project. You are the leader of the group and you have 9 people working under you. You assign one of them to be your assistant. The other 8 members will carry out the fieldwork and handle tasks that are not managerial in nature.
Now, how do you decide who does what? You will need a proper mechanism to determine what each person will be doing, and how much authority they have to make important decisions. Otherwise, the whole project might turn into a complete mess.
This is where a RASCI matrix comes in. It is a tool which facilitates project management. With the help of a RACI model, you can do the following:
- Divide your work into pieces.
- Identify all the people who will be participating in the project.
- Assign proper roles and responsibilities to the workers according to what part of the project they will be working on.
It is now time to dig a little deeper into exactly what is RASCI and what is its purpose.
What Is RASCI/RACI: Meaning and Usage
First, let’s look into the basic definition of RASCI charts and what they are used for.
This simple illustration below shows what RASCI stands for.
But what exactly is a RASCI chart?
It is a matrix which is used to identify the roles and responsibilities of each stakeholder working on a project. It helps to clearly state who is working on what particular subtask of the project.
We will take a closer look at the terms, Responsible, Accountable, Supportive, Consulted and Informed, in a moment. But first, we need to talk about where this model comes in handy.
Do you remember any group project that you were assigned to do back in school or college? If yes, then you might remember these:
- “You weren’t supposed to do the research! That was XYZ’s job!”
- “We’re late, who’s going to print out the report at the last minute?”
- “I never agreed to conduct the interviews. I was busy with secondary research.”
RASCI charts help avoid such situations. They are used for various purposes, including:
- Resolving conflicts within a group
- Managing projects efficiently
- Clearly assigning work to each group member, eliminating all confusion
- Documenting responsibility distribution
- Making sure no individual is overburdened with work
- Clearly defining the organizational hierarchy
Now, let us get back to what each individual letter in the term means so that you know how to use this chart properly.
R – Responsible
The person who is ‘Responsible’ can be thought of as the project owner. It is solely their job to make sure that the project is completed. Multiple people could be Responsible for one task. However, if they need extra help, they may ask one of the Supportive members.
A – Accountable
The person who has ultimate control over a task and the resources allocated for its completion is called ‘Accountable’. They are the ones who assign and delegate work responsibilities. One task can never have more than one person accountable.
S – Supportive
‘Supportive’ members may provide help by providing resources to the Responsible members. They actively work with the Responsible in order to carry the project to completion. Both Supportive and Responsible members have the same goals.
C – Consulted
The ‘Consulted’ are there to help the Responsible finish their tasks successfully. They are the experts who you can go to for relevant advice, help, or opinion. They offer valuable subject matter expertise.
I – Informed
The ‘Informed’ category includes the people who are to be kept in the loop over the course of the project. They need to be informed about the progress of the project every step of the way, up until it reaches completion.
Now that we know what the RACI model is, let’s move on to the structure of the matrix. On the left side of the matrix is a list of all the tasks that are to be done for a particular project or process. At the top, each column represents a stakeholder of the project.
Tip: If it is a small project, perhaps you could list down the name of each member in each column. Otherwise, for more standardized charts, it is generally preferred that the roles of the members be used as column labels. For example, it would be better to write ‘Line Manager’ instead of ‘Ms. Wazowski’. This way, if a member’s role changes (due to promotion or demotion, for example), they will still be able to recognize their responsibilities by having a look at their new role column in the existing matrix.
In order to help you understand the model in a more comprehensive manner, we will use an example.
Let’s suppose that a dedicated software development team needs to deliver an extensive, costly web-based application to a client. How do they go about the task?
First, they will list down all the people who will be involved in the process. These will include the Analyst, Project Manager, Subject Matter Expert, Web Developer, Tester, System Administrator, and maybe also the User.
Next, the process will be divided into smaller tasks, such as:
- Planning and Analysis
- Designing and Prototyping
- Review and Testing
Now, they need to draw up a matrix, with roles as column labels, and a list of subtasks on the left side. For each process, that is, going row-by-row, they will fill in the matrix.
For the first task, for example, the Responsibility will be assigned to the Analyst. The SME and User could be Consulted, while the Project Manager would be Accountable since they have the highest authority. In the same manner, each row of the matrix will be filled with the appropriate letters.
This is what the completed matrix would look like:
RASCI VS RACI – What Is the Difference?
There are many RASCI and RACI chart definitions that fail to differentiate between them both. So let’s talk about whether or not they are one and the same.
The two terms are often used interchangeably. In essence, they do mean the same thing. There is only one minor difference, that is, the extra ‘S’ in ‘RASCI’, which stands for ‘Support’.
Some organizations prefer to use the RACI version. Here, only the Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, and Informed parties are involved. Other organizations prefer RASCI. This particular version also includes the parties which are to offer Support. They could do this by offering information, resources, or any other help required.
Can You Have More Than One Responsible in a RACI?
When the tasks and responsibilities are being distributed among group members, it is often preferred that there be only one ‘A’ and ‘R’ for each task. That means, for every task, only one of the team members must be held accountable. However, the possibility of more than one ‘R’ depends on the task and the organization itself.
Some organizations prefer only a single party responsible for task completion. They believe that dividing responsibility results in improper completion of the task. Others, however, may argue. They think it necessary to hold more than one stakeholder responsible if the task is such that it requires the combined effort of people belonging to more than one area of expertise.
Sometimes, the Accountable and Responsible party for a task is the same. It is automatically assumed to be so. Therefore, in such cases, you need not mention an ‘R’ separately. But if two different people are to be assigned Accountability and Responsibility, there must be at least one ‘A’ and one ‘R’ per task.
It is also worth noting that sometimes there may be no ‘S’, ‘C’ or ‘I’ for a task. There is nothing wrong with having gaps in your chart. You do not have to fill in each and every cell of the matrix.
How to Check a RASCI Matrix
After you have drawn up a RACI matrix, you need to check a few things. There are two ways to do that:
- Vertical analysis
- Horizontal analysis
During vertical analysis (role-wise), that is, checking column-by-column, you must keep in mind the following points:
|Problem||What It Means||Effect(s)||Solution(s)|
|No ‘R’||A group member has no responsibility whatsoever||Group member wastes time and resources, doing minor tasks, or nothing at all||Distribute responsibilities more evenly|
|Multiple ‘R’s||A group member is overburdened||Lowers productivity and motivation levels|
|Multiple ‘A’s||One person controls major decisions for multiple subtasks||Slows down overall project progress|
|All boxes filled||A group member has too much on their plate|
|Multiple empty boxes||A group member has a lot of free time||Causes wastage of resources and time|
When checking horizontally (task-wise), you examine one row at a time. Keep the following things in mind here:
|Problem||What It Means||Effect(s)||Solution(s)|
|No ‘R’||The responsibility of delivering a particular subtask rests upon no one||The task will be left incomplete||Distribute responsibilities more evenly|
|Multiple ‘R’s||The responsibility for one task has been divided among too many people||Too many cooks may spoil the broth|
|No ‘A’||There is no one who the ‘R’s can seek permission from or report to||Causes chaos, confusion, and unnecessary hold-ups|
|Multiple ‘A’s||Multiple people control the major decisions for the same subtask||Causes conflict|
|Too many ‘C’s and ‘I’s||Too many people have been asked to help with/consult on the same task||Too much communication back and forth;||Keep communication channel(s) simple and quick|
What Are the Consequences of Not Following RASCI?
If your project is complex involving a number of team members and a number of tasks, and you are thinking about skipping out on using this model, we have one important word of advice: DON’T. Not using a RASCI matrix for your team activities could leave a very negative impact on your team and project outcomes in numerous ways.
Firstly, there is NO way your team will be able to work in peace. The team members will end up passing a lot of blame onto each other. Whenever something goes wrong, A will blame it on B, B will blame it on C, and so on. You must assign a particular task and role to each individual so that everything is crystal clear.
Furthermore, assigning duties to each member keeps everyone busy. If your group members are not explicitly told what to do, they will merely end up slacking off, and eventually, no work will be done by anyone!
Similarly, if you don’t analyze exactly how much work each member is supposed to do, you might end up assigning them much more work than they can handle. This will overburden them and ruin their productivity levels. A demotivated team will NEVER deliver on time!
Most importantly, there always needs to be one person who will have the final word regarding any and all team decisions. In the absence of a ‘leader’, it will take ages to make even the smallest decisions.
We hope this has made you realize exactly how vital these matrices are for team-based collaborations.
This brings us to the end of our discussion on RASCI charts. Let’s give you a recap of the key learning points of our article.
You must keep in mind the two main advantages of using these helpful matrices:
- Highly efficient task distribution
- Minimal ambiguity
How do you build these charts? It’s simple: just line up your roles along the top and your tasks on the left. Then, fill the table up!
And don’t forget that gaps are okay.
We hope that you will implement these learnings in real life to make your project management process efficient. What will happen if you don’t, you ask? One word: CHAOS.