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Natalia Rossingol

Breaking Down Roles & Responsibilities: A RACI Chart Primer

Looking for a clear, visual way to get project stakeholders on the same page with roles and responsibilities? A RACI chart might just be the tool you need.

Lack of clarity about roles and responsibilities in a team inevitably results in problems. At worst, it can really damage team cohesion.

When a solid understanding of role expectations is lacking, expect to see delays, missed deadlines, poorer performance, and resentment. Some people will get overwhelmed, while others will not feel involved enough. Some tasks might simply get omitted altogether.

However, there is a solution – a RACI chart. It’s a project management tool that is designed to clarify team members’ roles and, this way, ensure better communication and a smooth work process.

In this article, we will explore the concept of the RACI model and show you how to implement it. And we'll even explain some alternative models that you might prefer to use instead.   

What is a RACI chart?

A RACI chart (also called a RACI matrix) is a table that identifies the roles and responsibilities of all project stakeholders, classifying them into four categories: responsible, accountable, consulted, and informed (hence the acronym).

The purpose of the RACI chart is to analyze workload and reduce or avoid confusion within a team by clarifying the expectations around people's roles. The chart provides a visual representation of who does what, functioning as a reference that makes it simpler for all the stakeholders to see what role they personally play in the project.  

Let’s briefly describe the roles in the RACI matrix:


The responsible party is the person who actually does the work and completes the task. For each task, at least one responsible person should be assigned, but you could assign more.

Examples: software developer, UI/UX designer


This is the person who delegates and reviews the work, making sure the project is completed on time. What’s important, there should be no more than one person accountable per task, otherwise there might be some misunderstanding about whom to report to.

Examples: team lead, project manager, department head


These are people who provide both input based on their expertise and feedback, since the task outcome will directly affect their current and future role. For this reason, they have the decision-making power. These could be both people on the same team who are not working on a specific task (yet, get affected by it) or colleagues from other departments.

Examples: software architect, content editor


The informed parties should be updated on the overall project process, without getting too deep into details. Since they do not directly contribute to any task, they do not make any decisions. But as they are still interested in the outcome, they need to be kept in the communication loop.

Examples: executive leadership, external clients, administrative staff.

RACI chart example

What does a RACI chart look like in practice?

Let's take a look at a simple example for reference. Imagine if a project team was assembled to execute the creation of a new homepage for a website: the steps that need to be completed are listed in the column on the left.

By considering each member of the project team and deciding whether they are the person "Responsible" or "Accountable", or whether they just need to be "Consulted" or "Informed", we can get an idea of who will need to undertake which tasks in order for the project to be successful.

When is a RACI chart useful?

Overall, a RACI chart can be of great help in any project, bringing in more clarity. However, it’s especially useful when a team is involved in a complex project, working on many tasks simultaneously or on tasks that closely depend on each other.

Here’s a list of situations when creating a RACI chart might be a good idea:

Defining project roles and responsibilities

Of course, it’s best to clarify expectations before the work on the project starts. However, it’s never late – if you see that your team struggles, you can always create a RACI chart so that everyone knows what they’re responsible for, even at the later stages of the project.

A chart is a great reference that would give answers to many questions at a glance.

Helping with stakeholder management

A RACI chart helps keep everyone who is involved on a project on the same page in terms of what is expected of them. All the tasks are included in the chart, together with the people assigned, so there is no chance the tasks will get overlooked – and no chance people would expect their colleagues to do their part of the work. Naturally, this makes it more likely that the project will have a successful outcome, by facilitating workload management and preventing delays.     

A RACI chart works on the basis that every stakeholder has an influence on the project and is interested in the result, since every person is involved. This way, a chart works on two levels: it both helps improve performance and motivates people to do their best.

Overcoming communication difficulties and conflicts

When you know whom you need to report to, and whom you need to ask for advice, communication becomes less stressful and more productive. No intrigues or politicking, no hard feelings – everyone knows their current role and place. This has a very positive impact on team dynamics.

Regulating workload for individual workers 

Since roles on a RACI chart are marked with different colors, it takes one glance to see if someone has been assigned too many project tasks. This way, a chart makes workload distribution fairer and doesn’t let leaders overwhelm their employees, facilitating stakeholder management

Aiding in turnover management

While avoiding employee turnover in the middle of the project is not always possible, it can be successfully managed, and a RACI matrix is a great tool to help with that. When a new person arrives, a chart can guide them through their responsibilities, so the work can start right away. You can kill two birds with one stone – a newcomer will feel more confident, and the workflow, already thoroughly organized, will not be interrupted.   

The pros and cons of the RACI matrix

The RACI matrix adds much organizational clarity and ensures better communication in a team. However, this tool is not perfect – the roles it suggests are rather rigid, and that might create difficulties in the process of work. So before you decide if the matrix is worth trying in your particular case, take a look at its pros and cons:    


Clarifies roles and responsibilities

An unarguable advantage of a RACI chart is improving team collaboration and cohesion, especially when paired with a thorough role design. Everyone knows what they’re in charge of, so tricky situations when two people suddenly find out they’re both working on the same thing will probably not happen. Besides, project team members always know whom to talk to when they need information or approval – communication is open.

Builds a culture of accountability

When the roles are clear, it’s hard to avoid accountability. Once a task is assigned to you, you are the one responsible to submit it on time and meet the goals. At the same time, you cannot be blamed for something you haven’t been assigned – and, likewise, you cannot take credit for it.

It’s simple to create

You don’t need anything else but a sheet in Microsoft Excel or even Microsoft Word to create this matrix. However, you can complement it with more advanced devices, like workload management tools.


Might be unnecessary

For very simple projects, making a RACI chart might not be needed.

Confusing terminology 

The RACI roles might create confusion among team members who will need some clarification of the terms. To some people, “responsible” and “accountable” might sound synonymous,  just like “consulted" and "informed.” This might lead to more meetings and long discussions. If you are using a RACI chart, make sure people are clear on what the language means and refers to in day-to-day work.

Ambiguous decision-making

Even with clearly defined roles, it might be hard to understand who makes a decision. Logically, the decision-making power should be given to the accountable person who reviews the final work.

However, the responsible person, who is often a front-line worker, may have better knowledge and experience – and it would make perfect sense to ask for their opinion (even though it’s not always practiced). Besides, the consulted parties should also have a say since they will be affected by the work.

In other words, the RACI model doesn’t regulate decision-making. This slows the work process down and will inevitably cause conflicts.

Lacks coordination   

Even thought the use of a RACI chart involves information exchange, it does not specify what kind of information it should be and when that information needs to be provided. At what point should the consulted party be involved? How detailed should the information be? These parameters will need to be defined further in order for them to be useful in your individual case.

How to make a RACI chart

The process for creating a RACI framework is very simple. Basically, it includes only three steps:

  1. Break your projects down into phases and smaller tasks. List them on the left side of the chart.
  2. Identify all the project stakeholders. List them on the top of the chart. You could use either the names of team members or their job roles.
  3. For each task, identify who will be the responsible, accountable, consulted, and informed party.

However, this is only half the work. For a RACI chart to make sense, you should pay attention to the following:

  • Involve your team in creating a RACI chart, if possible. This way, it will be easier to get stakeholder buy-in.
  • Make sure everyone understands the meaning of their role.
  • Do not include minor tasks on the chart, to not overcomplicate it. For example, remove activities like weekly meetings.  
  • Assign the roles based on the person’s experience and qualifications. 
  • Analyze your chart, to see if the same person has not been assigned too much responsibility. If yes, you could change their role in some tasks from “consulted” to “informed.”
  • At the same time, be careful not to assign the same role to too many people (like “consulted.”) This will cause delays.
  • Figure out the decision-making process for each task. Who makes the decision and when?
  • Leaders should be the ones to make critical and final decisions. It’s important to empower other team members, letting them participate in the process – yet, remember that the more people have a right to vote, the longer it takes to make a decision – so it might not work for situations that require a quick response.
  • The most optimal solution here would be to give more people a right to voice, but limit the number of people who can vote.
  • Build a clear communication plan. Who is supposed to provide information, necessary to make the decision, to whom, and when? Through which channels will this information be shared? 
  • Make sure people refer to the matrix and use it. 
  • Update the chart, if necessary. Plans may change, and so can the chart, to reflect the actual situation.

Alternatives to the RACI model

To some people, the RACI model may seem too complicated and outdated, taking into account its disadvantages. However, if you still like the idea of organizing roles and responsibilities in a chart for clear and easy reference, there are some RACI alternatives that you could use: 


Drivers: those who do the work

Approvers: decision-makers

Contributors: those who provide consultations

Informed: those who receive updates

If you think that this model is pretty similar to the RACI model, you’re not entirely wrong. The main difference is the terminology – the terms in the DACI chart are more specific, action-based, and, in this way, more understandable. Some teams may prefer this. 


Deciders: decision-makers; they make decisions about roles, interactions among stakeholders, and meetings.

Advisors: they influence the decision but cannot delay it by asking for more information or a discussion.

Recommenders: they analyze the project, identify strengths and weaknesses, and look for alternatives.

Execution stakeholders: they do the work, implementing decisions.


Contribute: people who do the work and provide consultations.

Lead: those who delegate and manage work.

Approve: decision-makers.

Monitor: those who monitor the project.


A RACI chart is a simple work management tool that, however, can prove to be effective. The clarity it brings in might considerably improve communication in your team, making the job of project managers much easier at the same time.

By creating a RACI chart, you can help provide your team with focus, making it possible for them to contribute to the project with more confidence. But the best way to find out if the RACI matrix is a good fit for your projects and your team is to try it out, and see if it helps you achieve valuable clarity.

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