Use a RACI Matrix for Cross-functional Success

Use a RACI Matrix for Cross-functional Success

Organizational change doesn’t just “happen.” Your stakeholders require a shared understanding of their roles, lest you wind up with a non-cohesive team where no one will take ownership of a project, make a decision, or know how much autonomy and judgment they should exercise.

You need to assign and manage the roles and responsibilities of your cross-functional team in a straightforward way. The RACI (Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, and Informed) model, an easily implemented tool, can help you and your team stay organized. For each point, ask yourself:

Responsible: Who is doing the work? This person is responsible for getting the task done. In general, it should be one to several people.

Accountable: Who is responsible for making sure the task was done right and signs off on it? Who is the owner of the work? The “Responsible” usually reports to this person (a project executive, for example). Only one person should sign off when a decision or task is complete.

Consulted: Who provides necessary information for the project? “Consulteds” are usually more than one person and are active participants in the project.

Informed: Who needs to be informed about the status of the project? These people are affected by the outcome and so need to be kept in the loop, but are usually not directly or formally involved.

So how do you turn the RACI model into something you and your team can use to keep on target? By developing a RACI matrix.

Step 1: Identify the tasks involved in delivering your project. List them in order.

Step 2: Identify all of the project roles.

Step 3: Create a table where the tasks, in order, are on the left column and the roles are on the top row.

Step 4: Fill in each cell with R, A, C, or I. Keep in mind that no tasks should have more than one Accountable and should have at least one Responsible.

Step 5: Discuss your matrix with your cross-functional team to make sure everyone understands what they are responsible for, whom they need to account to, who will provide information for them to complete their tasks, and who needs to be kept apprised of the progress of their tasks.

As an example, a RACI matrix for developing a social media marketing blitz might look like this:

To make sure your RACI matrix is effective, check the following for each row (team member):

  • Does any team member bear too much responsibility (too many Rs)?
  • If a particular team member has NO empty cells, are they overly involved? Can you change Responsible to Consulted or Involved for some tasks?
  • Does each team member agree with what has been established?
  • Have you left out team members or stakeholders?

For each task or step (column), ask the following, and adjust your matrix accordingly.

  • Is someone Responsible for each task so “the buck stops here?”
  • Are there too many Responsibles? If so, maybe you need to separate out sub-tasks and processes so that only one R exists for each.
  • No Accountables? Then who’s in charge? More than one A, though, will slow down decision making.
  • Do all stakeholders need to be involved in every task?
  • Too many Consulted? That also slows down your project.
  • Have you left out any tasks?

Some other points to keep in mind:

  • Place Accountability and Responsibility where the action is.
  • You can’t give someone Accountability for a task but not the authority.
  • Document and communicate all of the roles and responsibilities once the team signs off on them.

Your RACI matrix can be expanded to include more roles, such as “Supportive.” However, aim to keep your RACI matrix consistent, straightforward, and flexible. Doing so can assist your team in clarifying roles and responsibilities and move towards collaborating more efficiently.

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