We’ve all been in this situation… A project or program has gone off the rails. Some tasks have too many cooks in the kitchen causing infighting and inertia. In other instances, critical activities and deliverables are falling through the cracks because there’s a lack of ownership. Overall, no one is quite sure who has final say and sign-off as several stakeholders, with differing opinions, continually provide conflicting direction. Frustration abounds.
When we diagnose what’s gone wrong, almost all of the problems lead back to one larger issue — a lack of clarity on who is doing what. The good news is you can prevent this from happening in the future by utilizing a simple process called RASCI that define roles and responsibilities for projects, programs and processes.
What is RASCI?
RASCI is an acronym that stands for:
RASCI is a well-established management technique used by both large corporations (Disney, Microsoft, etc.) and small companies. It’s an easy way to delineate stakeholder roles and responsibilities on any initiative. The PMI (Project Management Institute) publishes a project management guide entitled, PMBOK. In this manual, it defines RASCI as a “Responsibility Assignment Matrix,” and describes people’s participation (i.e., various roles) in completing tasks or deliverables for a project, program or process.
I’ve Heard It Called RACI. Are you Sure It’s RASCI?
Most project management organizations use the term RACI, however, I prefer RASCI. The two are very similar but RASCI includes an extra option to mark people as ‘Supportive’. This is someone who provides resources, information or will support the team in getting the work done. More on this in a moment…
How RASCI Helps
A RASCI should be included in each brief to communicate roles and responsibilities on key initiatives. It confers numerous benefits, including:
- Increases the speed with which decisions can be made so work can be accomplished.
- Gives teams an ‘at a glance’ confirmation of who is doing what.
- Makes managing a team’s work more efficient.
- Ensures tasks have the right roles assigned, and spots inconsistencies between tasks.
- Allows all team members to know who owns the project.
- Avoids the blame game, as everyone is clear on their responsibility level for tasks.
- Defines communication plans for stakeholders.
- Balances workloads by making overloaded team members more apparent.
- Eliminates duplication of effort.
- Accommodates onboarding and team member changes.
The RASCI analysis describes the tasks and roles that stakeholders take in delivering a project, program or operating a process as follows:
Responsible [R] – “I get it done”
The R is the person or group responsible for managing the work of others or performing the task. To avoid confusion and duplicating effort, it’s important to identify only ONE stakeholder as responsible for a given task, or the overall initiative. Many organizations are tempted to assign multiple R’s but confusion will ensue if you do this.
Accountable [A] – “The buck stops here”
The A is the person who is held accountable for the task or overall initiative being completed. Ideally, only one person should be accountable. It’s important to note that the same person cannot be both an R and an A. If they are, this results in a consolidation of duties issue where the stakeholder controls too much and there are no checks and balances.
Supportive (aka. Supplier) [S] – “I will execute the work”
The S is the person who does the work of the task. In some cases, the R and the S may be the same person. Ensure you make it clear if any other 3rd party companies, partners or suppliers will be involved in the process.
Consulted [C] – “I want to be part of the decisions”
The C is a stakeholder or set of stakeholders who are consulted prior to a task being performed or completed. These people are typically subject matter experts who must be consulted prior to a final decision or action. Please note that this is often two-way communication. As a result, you should attempt to limit the total number of C’s as it can add significant time to your project process.
Informed [I] – “I want to know about it”
The I is a stakeholder or set of stakeholders who are informed about decisions and outcomes after a task is completed or a decision has been made. These people typically do not have a vote in a decision or action, and this is mostly one-way communication. It’s important to clarify whether someone is a C or an I as there is a big difference.
Creating a RASCI
A RASCI should be included in each project or program brief, or in a process document, to communicate roles and responsibilities. Getting started using RASCI is quite easy. Here are the steps:
- Identify the main stakeholders.
- Using a spreadsheet, list the high-level tasks.
(Tip: use milestones from your workback schedule.)
- First, assign R’s and A’s for the overarching initiative.
- Next, assign R’s and A’s for the tasks.
(Tip: push authority down the organization by not always assigning A’s to the most senior people.)
- Check if a particular person is overloaded with too many R’s, and address accordingly by redistributing responsibility for some of the tasks.
- Check if there are too many C’s as this is often unrealistic and will slow progress.
- Review the completed RASCI with the team, make adjustments as needed and get sign-off.)
(Tip: never assign someone as an A or R if they are unaware of the obligation — she or he must be informed and agree to the responsibility.
- Once the RASCI is completed, ensure it’s located in a place where all team members can access it.
(Tip: use Google sheets to create your RASCIs.)
- Follow the RASCI as the team embarks on the work and adjust as needed.
Pro Tip: You don’t necessarily need S’s, C’s and I’s for every task. However, if you have numerous gaps, it could be a sign that you’ve missed some stakeholders.
- The A should be an individual who is relevant to the project and accessible.
- There is only one A per activity.
- Authority accompanies A status.
- The number of people assigned to C and I should be kept to a minimum.
Keep in Mind…
RASCI is a simple tool to manage projects and collaboration, but it’s not a silver bullet. Project tasks are sometimes unclear at the start of a project which means you’ll need to update your RASCI as you go. RASCI also isn’t a substitute for strong project leadership as a responsibility assignment matrix can’t define all of the actions that everyone must take.
Also, it can be unclear whether the C should only get involved when asked or if they should engage throughout the project. Your team will need to make this call, but they should do so at the onset.
Lastly, don’t get bogged down defining every possible task at the onset of a project. There is a fine line between the right amount and too much detail.
A Quick RASCI Training Exercise
If you believe you’re ready to try RASCI on your next project, it’s time to do a team dry run to ensure everyone understands the approach.
Here’s a quick 20-30 minute training exercise:
- Form groups of 3 people.
- Ask each group to plan a dinner party in approximately 10 minutes. As part of this task, they should create a RASCI for the dinner party that encompasses the activities each person will need to perform (e.g., planning the guest list, designing invitations, sending the invitations, assigning seats, planning the menu, etc.).
- Discuss the results as a team having each team do a quick presentation.