When Morpheus gave Neo the option of the red or blue pill, it was a decisive moment in him choosing to live in a shared dream state or wake up and find out what the world was really like. That matrix was bad; however in business analysis, a matrix can be really helpful.
When you have a bunch of people with a bunch of stuff to do, and you want to be able to determine and communicate exactly who has to do what, then the RACI matrix is the perfect tool.
More formally known as the responsibility assignment matrix, the RACI matrix describes the level of participation by various roles in completing tasks or deliverables for a project or business process.
RACI (pronounced ray-see) is an acronym derived from initials of the four levels of participation most typically seen: Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, and Informed (more below).
To develop the RACI matrix, there are three simple questions to answer:
Building a RACI matrix is intended to clarify responsibilities and levels of participation for a process or project, and normally focuses on either a breakdown of the work to be done or the products to be delivered.
Whether its work- or product-based will depend on the management style in an organisation. Those focused on planning individual workload will want to understand participation on tasks, whereas those focused on delivery will focus on who does what to achieve that.
Agile development shops and PRINCE project managers (for example) will typically favour the deliverables/product approach, and traditional control-focused teams will favour the task approach.
The tasks or deliverables are added to the left-hand column of the matrix (see diagram below).
Once you know what is being done, you need to identify who is involved.
The RACI matrix uses generic roles rather than individually identified people, because a role describes a collection of associated responsibilities and may be performed by many people; and one person can perform many roles.
For example, an organisation may have ten people who can perform the role of project manager, while a project only has one project manager at any one time; similarly a person who is able to perform the role of project manager may also perform the role of business analyst and tester.
The roles are added to the top row of the matrix (see diagram below).
Once you have completed both lists and added them to the matrix, you then determine for each task/deliverable which role is responsible, accountable, consulted, or just kept informed — plotting in an R, A, C, or I as appropriate.
Responsible: those who do the work to complete the task or deliverable.
Accountable: the one answerable for the completion of the deliverable or task achieving its goals and who should sign off (approve) that the deliverable or task is done.
Consulted: those whose opinions are sought, typically business or technical subject matter / domain experts; and with whom there is active and ongoing two-way communication.
Informed: those who are kept up-to-date on progress, often only on completion of the task or deliverable; and with whom there is just one-way communication.
As you work through developing your RACI matrix, it’s useful to keep the following rules in mind:
Also, you should check out the alternative participation models (e.g. RASCI) on the Wikipedia article for responsibility assignment matrix (for which I contributed significant content).