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Monday, June 30, 2014

RACI: An important tool to manage project outcome and stakeholder expectations

A few years back in a 2-day workshop on organizational strategy to structure, I saw the facilitator came up with the RACI chart and fumble on the RACI explanation confusing “A” in RACI to “Aid.” In a different situation, the vice president of a client management group was referring to giving copyrights to his manager for coming up with the RACI model. Recently, when I saw the RACI matrix for a process map on a sales-to-execution role definition, I saw processes where same owner was both responsible and accountable and some areas where there was no person was identified as accountable.  The more I am in management, the more I am feeling that key important stakeholders should become trained on fundamentals of project management, such as the tools associated with Project Management, so that they can position the projects for success and even inadvertently don’t derail the projects.

There are several reasons to why a RACI chart is required. The most common ones include when the organization is large enough that simple project communication tools alone would not eliminate role ambiguities efficiently controlling costs to the organization. The subtle reasons for requiring a RACI becomes essential when the organization is silo-ed where several members are working on similar tasks creating waste and not making the organization lean. From a project, program, product, & portfolio management perspective, this RACI tool surfaces to the top of managing risks to these strategic initiatives as middle management wonders if they have the authority to implement their job or projects experience schedule slippage, scope creep, cost overrun, and escaped defects.

So, how does this managing strategic initiative from project to portfolio management?  Now that we realize the importance of the tool, let us ground our thoughts here in relating this tool to stakeholder and risk management. Here are my thoughts!

The individual performing an activity.
This person does the work. It may be a developer, tester, data analyst, or network administrator in software development or a project manager in a project.
The individual ultimately accountable.
This person is answerable to the management in managing the client and the project’s profitability. An account manager, product manager, project manager, executive sponsor, functional manager are all examples. This person should also use risk register effectively by mapping the risk owner to the RACI.
The individual required to offer input and contribute to the activity.
This person offers 2-way communication and is the expert. This person should hold both “Responsible” and “Accountable” person in check and uses the risk management strategies. May be able to roll up the sleeves to actually do what these above roles should do. Can take on the roles of Director, Proposition Manager, Business Analyst, Project Manager, etc.
The individual that needs to be informed of the decision and its impact.
These are the people that PMBOK calls as stakeholders that can be positively or negatively impacted by the project’s outcome. These stakeholders must be managed so that unnecessary escalation and project derailment does not happen.  The “Informed” is not limited to organizational employees and business units but customers, vendors, partners, and end-users depending upon project’s or product’s goals.

Every tool in the Project Management Book of Knowledge is so critical that it has its place in managing the project’s outcome. Understanding its purpose and utilizing it appropriately is critical to any organization’s job. RACI is an important asset to any management to eliminate waste, increase efficiency, and enhance stability.

Now, how do you foresee its use in your organization, business unit, and product or project management? Share your thoughts!

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