“This is not my responsibility” is unfortunately a sentence which is heard more than it ever should be in businesses.

One of the common factors I find when working with underperforming teams or organisations is a lack of clarity around roles and responsibilities. As a result, tasks are completed to a lower standard, or people aren’t sure who is doing what, which costs time and money. 

No matter how detailed and complete a plan may be, confusion or omission of roles and responsibilities is the main contributor to poor performance, cultural disharmony, bad behaviour and poor results.

For example, in football nobody would argue that a striker needs to defend AND score goals. Can you imagine a situation where in a defensive play a striker stops at halfway and states; “Defending is not my responsibility”? I seriously doubt they will be in the team for long, or that the team culture will be one that anyone wants to play in. 

For a team, project or organisation to be successful, all team-members need to know their individual responsibilities, plus who is accountable for the success or failure of the team (I’m looking at you, Ian Foster). The simplest and most effective approach I’ve seen and used to define and document roles and responsibilities is the RACI model.

The RACI Matrix

I first came across the RACI matrix via a tech sector client (hat tip to the team at Inde) who were using it to design position descriptions. The RACI Matrix asks, who is:

R – Responsible: The individuals actually doing the work. Depending on the team or project, a number of people can be responsible.

A – Accountable: Who signs off to say that a project is completed and up to scratch? Usually, the buck stops with this one person.

C – Consulted: Who needs to give their input before work starts, or can be signed off?

I – Informed: Who are the people who need to be kept in the loop, but not necessarily formally consulted around tasks or decision-making?

A RACI matrix example

For example, imagine you’re the owner of ABC Civil who is contracted to dig a 200 metre trench to lay some fresh water pipes. Roles and equipment need to be allocated to people, and decisions need to be made around where and how deep the trench needs to be.

Who is Responsible? The onsite ABC Civil employees who will actually dig the trench are RESPONSIBLE for digging the trench.

Who is Accountable? In the first instance, the Site Foreman is the ACCOUNTABLE for the work. He is ACCOUNTABLE for the trench to be dug according to the design specifications. Although, if something serious goes wrong, the final buck will rest with the owner of ABC Civil.

Who is Consulted? The design engineer will be CONSULTED around technical aspects of the project. For example, they will mark out where the existing pipes and cables are buried, and be CONSULTED if unspecified pipes or cables are found. 

Who is Informed? The owner of ABC Civil, followed by the client will be INFORMED. They’ll want to be updated on the progress, but they don’t need to be consulted on every single decision.

How to create a RACI matrix

The simple process for creating a RACI model includes the following five steps:

  1. Tasks – Identify all the tasks involved in delivering the project and list them on the left-hand side of the spreadsheet in completion order.
  2. People/roles – Identify all the people/roles involved in the project and list them along the top of the spreadsheet.
  3. RACI – Complete the cells of the spreadsheet identifying who has responsibility, accountability and who will be consulted and informed for each task.
  4. Stress test – Ensure every task has at least one person Responsible for it. No tasks should have more than one person Accountable. Resolve any conflicts where there is more than one for a particular task.
  5. Share & Agree – Share, discuss and agree the RACI model with your team stakeholders at the start of the Project. Think of it as your own war-room briefing. This includes resolving any conflicts or ambiguities.

Using the RACI method for each project clears up lines of communication and reporting, as well as providing clarity around decision making so everyone knows their job is.

The RACI method is especially useful for analysing and understanding processes. For example, who is accountable for scheduling work versus who is responsible? Does it make sense for the Operations Manager to be Consulted at this stage of the process, or are they better off staying Informed?

A RACI matrix can free up your time

While RACI can be useful at the coalface for showing who is responsible for each task, and who they are accountable to, RACI can also be helpful for clearing up your time. Over enthusiastic business owners who like to be involved in everything can take a step back. Do you really need to be responsible and consulted? Probably not. That’s why you have a wider team around you to provide support for those roles. Allowing yourself to remain informed, while staying out of the minutiae of the day-to-day tasks frees up time and headspace for you to focus on what really matters.

Are you struggling with managing employees who seem unsure about what they should be doing? Or, do you find yourself jumping into each and every project to consult on decisions that could probably be delegated to someone else? Contact your local Prime Strategies advisor to make your business more RACI.