RACI charts are useful tools for communication managers that need to attribute different members of their teams to different roles in the completion of deliverables.
In this article, I talked earlier about the MECE matrix as a grouping principle that helps communicators make lists of items that are mutually exclusive and collectively exhaustive. RACI is one more such useful management tool that deserves to be in the toolkit of every communications professional.
Four roles in the RACI chart
RACI is a project management tool that allows communication managers to easily decide for each deliverable that is to be completed who is Responsible, who is Accountable, who needs to be Consulted and who should be Informed – hence the acronym RACI.
Let’s take a look at what the different roles entail:
- Responsible: This is the person who needs to do the work. More than one person can be responsible for a task.
- Accountable: The person who is accountable is the one who is the ‘owner’ of the task. He or she will sign off on the work done. There should only be one single person accountable for any given task.
- Consulted: This is the person who is not involved in actually doing the work nor will this person approve of the work, but he or she will need to be consulted by the person who is responsible for completion. More than one person can need to be consulted for a task.
- Informed: Also this person is not responsible for actually completing the task, but he or she needs to be informed by the person who is responsible.
RACI charts are a boon to project managers and anyone who has a role to play in the completion of project deliverables because the charts provide a much more granular look at what is expected from the team members than simple decisions on who needs to get which job ‘done’.
Let’s take the distribution of a press release as an example. The PR manager can be the one who is held accountable. The spokesperson can be responsible for the write up and a junior team member can be responsible for distribution. The PR manager can then determine up front that a subject matter expert from one of the business units needs to be consulted in the copywriting phase and that different partners who were mentioned in the release need to be informed once the release is out.
Getting RACI charts right
RACI charts (or any other management tools) do not get a lot of attention in public relations handbooks. One of the exceptions are Sew Dewhurst and Liam FitzPatrick who discuss RACI briefly in their book Successful Employee Communications. They do treat the RACI chart as a stakeholder analysis tool, which it is not.
Finally, in order to be complete, I just discussed matching staff to different RACI roles, but in order to do so the team will first need a well-crafted work breakdown structure (WBS) that discerns the different deliverables to be produced in the first place. Such is a topic for another article.
Did you enjoy this piece on RACI charts?
You might also like our piece on MECE as a useful heuristic tool for diagnosing problems by making lists that are mutually exclusive and collectively exhaustive.
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