When you have a major project to complete at work that involves several tasks and people, using a RASCI matrix helps to keep things on track
If you work in an environment where project management is a key component of your job, you've likely heard the term RASCI or RACI. It's possible the phrase is new to you. The quick and easy way to explain RASCI is to say that it's a chart that shows who does what. There are several benefits to using a RASCI chart and quite a number of disadvantages to skipping the use of one.
So, what is a RASCI matrix, and how do you use it?
What is a RASCI matrix?
According to the Project Management Institute (PMI), it's a “ responsibility assignment matrix.” Basically, it's a tool for managing the tasks that make up a project. It is laid out on a spreadsheet with columns and rows. It doesn't replace the project plan - the thing that details every task, the timelines, and how the project should be managed - RASCI is simply a visual representation of each team member's role.
What does RASCI stand for?
Somewhere on your spreadsheet, you'll need to put a legend that explains the acronyms.
This is the get-it-done person. It is best to try to assign only one person; however, if you have a complex project with a lot of moving parts, you may have more than one person responsible for a task. If you do use multiple people for a task, be sure to define which person does which part clearly.
This is the decision person, usually the Project Manager. There should never be more than one team member held accountable, and the person who's responsible for the task shouldn't be the same person to be held accountable. In other words, the same person should not be both R and A. You also want to avoid building a RASCI with no one in the accountable position.
These are the I-will-help-you people. They provide assistance to the responsible person to get something done. In some cases, your RASCI chart may not have an “S.” In that case, the “R” person is the “S” person too. Support can come from third parties, suppliers, partners, and vendors.
Oftentimes, there will be someone who needs to be part of the decision-making process. They may have access to information that the Project Manager or team members don't know about, or they are subject matter experts on a particular topic. Try to limit the number of “Cs” to as few people as possible, because having to consult with someone for every decision can cause major slowdowns.
These are the need-to-know people. Everyone has a boss who needs to know what's going on – project progression, problems, resolutions, and updates. However, they're not directly in charge of getting the tasks done.
How do you build a RASCI chart?
You'll want to use some sort of software program that allows you to create a spreadsheet. Use the rows on the chart to define tasks and the columns for team member assignments. The cells of your spreadsheet will contain the letter of the acronym each team member handles as part of their assigned task.
It's okay to have some blank cells. It's also okay to have one person assigned to different tasks. One of the RASCI chart's best practices is to use each person's name rather than a job title. It avoids any confusion that may pop up in the future and ensures that everyone knows their part.
How to use RASCI
After you build the outline of tasks and identify the team players, it's time to assign the letters. Decide which of your team members will be responsible for tasks, who is accountable for making sure each thing gets done, which people will provide support or need to be consulted, and finally indicate who needs to be informed of task status.
Place the Rs, As, Ss, Cs, and Is within the cells that correspond to the name of the person and task. Remember that adjustments can be made along the way if there are staffing changes or some new tasks pop up that will help to get your project completed.
Once you've filled in the boxes, review for horizontal and vertical balance. You don't want too many As in a column or too many Rs in a row. The idea of a RASCI is to divide work so that no one is overwhelmed. When the review is complete, distribute it to all team members so that they have a visual representation of what they need to do.
Advantages and disadvantages of using RASCI
As with anything in life, there are pros and cons to RASCI. While it's true that RASCI can help to keep a project from getting in the weeds with forgotten tasks and missed deadlines, it does lack a clearly defined hierarchy.
Some of the ways a RASCI chart helps include:
Clear definition of tasks
Easily identifiable role assignments
Reduction of interpersonal conflicts
Appropriate vertical and horizontal task management
Fair distribution of workload
Keeping in mind that every tool available isn't always appropriate to use, here are some of the ways RASCI can put you and your team at a disadvantage:
It can make things more complicated if your project is simple
It can be tedious to create a RASCI matrix
It can cause certain team members to be overburdened while others sit around with little to do
Alternatives to RASCI
Some people believe that RASCI is outdated and that ARPA or DARE are good replacements.
ARPA stands for Accountable, Responsible, Participant, and Advisor.
DARE stands for Deciders, Advisors, Recommenders, and Execution.
These do the same thing as RASCI by helping team members to know their roles and the decisions they're able to make. However, ARPA and DARE both allow for more decision-making authority at the lower levels. The idea is that these alternatives to RASCI speed up processes while encouraging more participation.
RASCI can help during your search for a new job
Project management is one of the key skills that employers may look for in a new candidate. It's one thing to say that you know how to manage projects; it's another thing to demonstrate your ability. Talking about using RASCI in your interview will help you to stand out among other candidates. This is especially true for those behavioral (i.e., Tell me about a time when…) questions.
Talk about a time you used RASCI to organize projects and define each team member's responsibilities to prevent project lags and to control chaos. It could even be helpful to discuss how you turned around a failing project or got a project out of the weeds using RASCI.
Before you can land an interview for a new Project Manager job, you have to ensure that your resume is up to par with the right skills and achievements. TopResume has a team of professional resume writers that can help you to define your career accomplishments in a way that will have your email filled up with interview offers. Make sure yours makes the cut by submitting it for a free resume review today!
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