MANAGING STAKEHOLDERS USING THE RACI MODEL

The following guide to using the RACI model was prepared by John Elsworth, a project manager with many years experience delivering in Finance and Banking, Biomedical and transport industries. It took RNC 5 years to convince him to join us and we are very glad that he has worked with us now for 5 years….

Managing stakeholders is vital to the success of a project and one of the most challenging aspects of project management. Have you ever been looking for a single project tool that would help with stakeholder management; the communications plan; developing peoples’ roles and responsibilities; and, creating project delegation authorities?

The RACI model can be a valuable input to these elements of planning particularly in the early stage of the project when you are writing your initial version of the PMP. This stage of a project can be very confusing when you are juggling so many stakeholders & project members. In our line of work as contract PMs we are typically just getting to know everyone too.

Of course, like all elements of planning, the RACI should be an interactive process and updated as appropriate to the project needs.

People who participate in creating/updating the RACI model enjoy it as they get a lot out of it and it can be fun & thought-provoking.

The RACI is an effective communications tool because stakeholders and team members find it intuitive and easy to digest.

So, how does a RACI work? The output is a matrix of responsibilities of all the stakeholders and members of the project team. Their job titles are assigned a letter depending on their role in the project. RACI is an acronym and the letters represent the level of participation in the project –

R is for Responsible (the do-er of the activity)
A is for Accountable (the buck stops here)
C is for Consulted (typically an important stakeholder or a subject matter expert)
I is for Informed (someone who needs to know … or wants to know but they are not an active participation in this particular activity)

The matrix should have the project participants’ role title on the horizontal axis and the project duties/activities on the vertical axis. The letter of the RACI which best represents their roles & responsibilities are allocated and placed in the appropriate cell co-ordinates.

The RACI matrix can become a great friend to a Project Manager. Project planning can be time-consuming and complex. The RACI matrix helps dissect information into simple, bite-size chunks.

Let’s look at a quick example. The hypothetical project is the design and manufacture of a new hybrid car which must have regulatory approval from the government.

It is advisable to highlight the cells where the “A” and the “R” appears as these are the most important. Also, it is helpful to make it visually appealing so it stands out for the reader above the other noise they encounter during their work day. For the PM, the colour coding helps with quality assurance, e.g’s. there should be only one “A” allocated in every row; &, the “R’s” should be well distributed across the stakeholders/team-members.

Please note:
i. Once drafted, the matrix should be placed on formal review.
ii. Note that the RACI can include external as well as internal parties. In this example reference to the Regulatory Authority is an external organisation.
iii. Logically in the hierarchy, the A is the highest followed by (in order) the R, the C, and the I. Will leave it to you to spell that out!

After syndicating/agreeing the RACI with stakeholders, the project manager has so much information they need to work out the “who”, “what”, “how’s” and ”when” for the elements of the project planning mentioned above.

There are a number of variations of the RACI model and these can be applied according to the nature of the project –

  • RASCI model – includes provision for a support function
  • RACI-VS – includes 2 participation types for verification and support
  • CAIRO – uses “O” for omitted
  • DACI – where “D” represents the driver of the project activity

Anecdotal story
I once distributed my draft RACI and got feedback from a stakeholder that he wanted to have a “C” (consulted) against all the project activities. Indeed he was an electrical engineer and wanted to be consulted on all the other engineering disciplines as well! Nevertheless the RACI was a great basis for a constructive conversation with this person and I learnt a lot about him at the same time, which was useful as the project matured.

Further Reading
Project Management Institute: PMBOK Guide, Edition 4 –
http://www.pmi.org/PMBOK-Guide-and-Standards.aspx

Wikipedia – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Responsibility_assignment_matrix

Project Management Essentials – http://projectmanagementessentials.wordpress.com/2010/02/02/nn-12-formula-for-number-of-communication-channels/

We’d like to hear from you. If you use the RACI model, post a comment or send us your feedback.