Methodology Spotlight – How RACI Helps Cross-Functional Teams Achieve Their Goals

Written by on June 26, 2014

The RACI methodology – Responsible, Accountable, Consulted and Informed – is an extremely helpful tool that can provide clarity for cross-functional teams.

Business problems are becoming more and more complex, making it increasingly challenging for business leaders to address them without tapping in to the expertise of a many different aspects of their organizations.  In fact, it’s rare that a large project can be completed without the collaboration and input of a cross-functional team and they can be set up for success by the use of a very simple and straightforward tool, called a RACI chart.

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The RACI is a simple chart, which team members work through at the outset of a project.  Once all of the major tasks are identified, the team works together to come to agreement on who is Responsible for, Accountable for, Consulted about and Informed about each one.

Identifying which team members play which roles helps individual team members recognize how they fit into the cross-functional team environment.  And it allows the leader to lay out, in no uncertain terms, what each player’s role is, how it is to be fulfilled and what is expected in order to achieve success in that role.

Engaging with the team to fill out the chart quickly defines roles for decision-making and specific functions.

  • Responsible indicates the individual who physically takes action, actually doing the work and making the decisions. This can be shared among more than one team member.
  • Accountable indicates the individual who ensures all tasks are assigned to and completed by those responsible and who has the ultimate accountability for all that particular aspect of the project.
  • Consulted identifies a person who provides input prior to an action or decision, with active participation and two-way communication. This individual is in in the loop, but not accountable or responsible
  • Informed individuals are updated after an action or decision, but not before. This individual does not directly contribute, but is aware of what is going on in the project.

Developing RACI charts can be a tricky undertaking, but it’s necessary to ensure that the roles and responsibilities are clear for everyone involved… It’s easy to think that at the outset of a project that it’s obvious who plays which role, but not using a streamlined process to set out accountabilities can lead to sloppy communication, confusion and even duplicated effort. 

Using the RACI tool consistently as a touchstone throughout the project, allows teams to work through organizational issues immediately because it confronts three questions about roles and responsibilities:

  1. Role conception
  2. Role behaviours
  3. Role expectations

Being up front with these expectations provides clarity and understanding for the team. Not only does the RACI method encourage consistency in decision-making, it creates predictability and fosters trust in a structured and efficient process.