A project responsibility matrix is a project tracking tool that maps people against specific profiles and tasks in a project. The point is to ensure that as the project progresses, everyone understands who is doing what – and who should be consulted or kept in the loop.

The most common project responsibility matrix that you’re likely to use is the RACI matrix, which maps people and tasks against four profiles in a project.

RACI Matrix

CTODevsQAArchitectSales
Design featureAIRC
Build featureARIC
Test featureIARC
Market featureAIICR
Table: Simple example of a RACI matrix

The RACI matrix uses four levels of involvement in a task:

  • Responsible: Performing the task.
  • Accountable: Ensuring the task is completed to an acceptable standard.
  • Consulted: Available for help and advice on the task.
  • Informed: Wants or needs information about the progress of the task.

You may well find that your Informed category often contains more than one person. This is realistic – after all, sharing information throughout your organization is generally a good thing. Don’t overdo it, though – the category is meant to show who needs to know.

RAC Matrix

CTODevsQAArchitectSales
Design featureRCA
Build featureRCA
Test featureRCA
Market featureRAC
Table: Simple example of a RAC matrix

A RAC matrix is a variant of the responsibility matrix. It has only three levels of involvement:

  • Responsible: Performing the task, and/or ensuring that the task is completed successfully.
  • Contributes: Assisting in the task.
  • Advises: Offering expertise where needed.

Note that we’ve used the same example project for each. This is so that you can compare the different roles used in each.

RACI vs RAC Matrix

As you can see by contrasting the two matrix styles, the roles used look slightly different. In fact, the RAC matrix completely omits the ‘Informed’ category.

However, the differences between the RACI and RAC models are larger than they initially seem. While it’s tempting to think of a RAC matrix as a RACI matrix without the Informed role, that’s not accurate at all. Every role is a bit different, and the letters certainly don’t match the same type of roles.

The table below shows you the very basic equivalencies between the two models. You’ll note that ‘responsible’ is a very different role in each. The equivalencies aren’t exact – in the RAC matrix, we tend to treat the ‘contributes’ role as a junior one, whereas the ‘responsible’ role in RACI could be a senior position.

RACI matrix roleRAC matrix role
Doing the grunt workResponsibleContributes
Overseeing the workAccountableResponsible
Offering guidance and subject matter knowledgeConsultedAdvises
Needs to be kept in the loop on what’s happeningInformed
Table: Rough equivalencies between RACI and RAC matrix roles

RASCI Matrix

The RASCI matrix is yet another variation, based on the RACI matrix. This model uses the same roles as the RACI matrix, but adds the Supporting role. So you end up with five roles:

  • Responsible: Performing the task.
  • Supporting: Assisting the Responsible role to complete the task. Typically a junior level role.
  • Accountable: Ensuring the task is completed to an acceptable standard.
  • Consulted: Available for help and advice on the task.
  • Informed: Wants or needs information about the progress of the task.

Note that the Responsible and Supporting roles are both hands-on with the task.

RAPID Matrix

CTODevsArchitectSalesProject ownerProject lead
Develop feature backlogDAIPR
Prioritize featuresRIADP
Project scheduleIADPR
Table: Simple example of a RAPID matrix

The RAPID matrix is another project responsibility matrix, with a slightly different focus. Whereas RACI and similar models look at high-level responsibilities throughout a project, the RAPID model focuses more on lower-level project planning responsibilities.

As you’ve probably figured out, this matrix has five roles:

  • Recommend: Researches options and offers suggestions on how the work should be completed.
  • Agree: Helps the recommender to collate options and develop a proposal.
  • Perform: Implements the decision once it’s made.
  • Input: Offers advice and subject matter expertise.
  • Decide: Makes the final decision on how the project will be worked on.

How to Construct a Project Responsibility Matrix

While there are a number of online tools available, a spreadsheet – for example, Excel – tends to work as well or better for responsibility matrices.

  1. Break your project down into tasks.
  2. For each task, designate at least one person for each of the roles in the model you’ve chosen. For example:
    • Responsible.
    • Accountable.
    • Consulted.
    • Informed.
  3. List your tasks down the side of a spreadsheet.
  4. List your stakeholders across the top.
  5. Mark at least one person for each category in each task.

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