The 4 RACI Roles: Responsible Accountable Consulted Informed

Learn more about Responsible Accountable Consulted Informed (RACI) framework in Project Management

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If you want to know what Responsible Accountable Consulted Informed mean, you are in the right place. In this short guide, we will explain each of these for roles, and why they are important in project management and used across all projects. In fact, they are so common that we tend to use the acronym RACI, and with it create a document we call RACI Matrix. As a bonus, you will also learn what the RACI Matrix is, and how to use it.

Responsible Accountable Consulted Informed (RACI)

The four RACI roles in a Project

No matter how complex your organization – we can imagine that everything that the company does can be defined as a set of activities. Simply enough, if the company is undertaking a project, this project will be composed by a set of activities – we do this, then we do this, while we also do that and so on. Even normal operations, such as customer service, can be broken down into activities. In the case of customer service, it might be answering the phone, answering emails, but also create informational content to instruct the user such as FAQ pages.

All of this may seem trivial, but it is at the foundation of our Responsible Accountable Consulted Informed framework. In fact, if we see a project or an organization as a set of activities, we can understand that someone is in charge for each activity. That someone may be a person, but it may also be a department or business unit. In any case, if we want activities to be done, there must be someone to do them. Often, this is not enough: there must be someone who do the activity and who is committed to its success.

This is where Responsible Accountable Consulted Informed framework kicks in. If we define a list of activities and a list of people (or departments), the RACI tells us which role each person will have in each activity.

You should present the role (Responsible Accountable Consulted Informed) of all the stakeholders in the first meeting, or kick-off, of the project
You should always present the RACI roles of all people in the first meeting of the project.

With this in mind, we can now explore the four roles.

Responsible in RACI

As we know, we have four roles: Responsible Accountable Consulted Informed. Responsible is the first one because it is the one that you absolutely need for all activities, and it is also the easiest to understand.

The Responsible RACI role indicates someone who is in charge of completing that activity. Simply put, he is the one doing the work – or better, the one responsible to do the work. If there is no person responsible for doing the work, the work will not get done because no one will do it. It is then clear that all activities must have one responsible person or department.

Now, the subtle part is that you can have only one responsible per activity. Yes, you heard it right, it is not possible to have two people responsible to do the work. Of course, it is not like it is not technically possible, it is a general best practice that you should follow. If you have two people responsible for something, each may do nothing thinking the other will pick it up. To avoid this overlap, it is best to have just one person responsible, and this is also what the Project Management Institute suggests.

Of course, activities reported with the Responsible Accountable Consulted Informed framework tend to be high level. This means in turn that it is very unlikely each activity may be completed by a single individual. No problem for that, you should put departments instead of people to give responsibility, or even put the name of the department head or team leader. Even if the team will do the work, he will be responsible to coordinate the team.

Accountable in RACI

If we take Responsible Accountable Consulted Informed roles, Accountable is probably the hardest to understand. Yet, it is the most crucial, the one that can make or break your project. You totally need to understand Accountable in RACI.

The Accountable RACI role indicates the person who owns the outcome of the activity. If you heard the saying “being held accountable”, here we mean accountable in the same exact sense. If we want to see it in another way, accountable is the person who will bear the consequences if the activity is completed or not, or if the activity has a good outcome or not.

So, the accountable person must ensure the responsible person has everything he needs to do the work. If the responsible person is not getting things done, the accountable person generally has the authority to replace the responsible person. In short, the accountable person does not do the work, but people will go to her rather than the responsible.

Just like the responsible, and even more importantly in this case, we should have one accountable person. Just one, no exception. So, there is just one person to blame or praise for the work, and since she knows she will bear all the consequences, she will strive to get things done.

Now, responsible and accountable can be two different people (or departments), but they don’t have to be. In some case, one person can be both Accountable and Responsible (we mark it as AR). This can be common in simple projects or activities.

If you are still confused, think about Accountable-Responsible dichotomy with an activity that is performed by an external supplier, say mowing the garden. The Facility Team of your company will be accountable, and they will have the budget to do so, but they will hire an external company to do the actual mowing – that external company will be responsible.

Consulted in RACI

After accountable, the other roles are a walk in the park. Next in the Responsible Accountable Consulted Informed framework, we have the consulted role. This is someone on the sidelines, and not all activities in all projects may have someone in this role.

The Consulted role is someone who, you guessed it, gets consulted while performing the activity. Mainly, it is the responsible or accountable person who goes to the consulted person to ask for advice and validation. To have a quick example, if the IT team is creating a new software for the finance department, they may consult the finance department to ensure they are creating something that meets their need.

Now, it is worth noting that there are many flavors of consulting and consulted role. Depending on the organization and project, the consulted role may have more or less power over the outcome of the project. In most cases, however, the consultancy is non-binding, that is the responsible and accountable are not obliged to follow the advice or ensure full verification from consulted people. So, the consulted person has no direct influence on the outcome of the activity.

Nonetheless, the purpose of having people consulted is to make the responsible party actively seek their feedback. Then, consulted and responsible (and also accountable) will have to mediate something that satisfies everyone. If they do not, the accountable person will decide how to proceed, but since the consulted person has ben consulted he can decide to let his requests drop, or escalate them higher in the organization.

What we accomplish in this way is that the people in the consulted role cannot come up at the end of the project complaining “I wanted things to be done differently”, because they have their say during the project. Of course, it is the duty of the responsible and accountable to ensure they are consulted. If you haven’t adopted this approach and now it is too late and people are already complaining, I may suggest this Forbes article on how to deal with complaints, by Nicole Leinbach-Reyhle.

Informed in RACI

Finally, we can move to the last role in the Responsible Accountable Consulted Informed framework. That is, the informed role. This one is pretty self-explanatory, but we can spend a few words and compare with consulted in particular.

The Informed role is for people who must be informed on the status of an activity. It will be the duty of responsible and accountable to inform them, generally with emails, newsletters, and meetings. Unlike the consulted role, people in informed role have relatively low interest in the outcome of the project, and they do not need or wish to influence it. As such, they just receive information as is.

Let’s go back to the example of the IT team creating a software for the finance department, who is consulted. In addition to this, imagine HR team also must prepare new procedures and training for people joining the finance department, so that they are able to use the new software.

From the HR point of view, there is little need or desire to influence the outcome of the project. If the activities will be 6 months in delay, then HR will wait 6 months to prepare the training and it will not be the end of the world. However, they may need to know when the project is approaching completion so they can prepare training material. So, they must be informed about the status of things.

The RACI Matrix

Responsible Accountable Consulted Informed come together in the RACI matrix. It is just a simple table listing all activities in the rows, and all the parties involved in the columns. In the intersection of row and column, you have the role each party has in that activity. It is common to mark the role with just a letter: Responsible is R, Accountable is A, Consulted is C, and Informed is I – RACI.

Normally, a person can be responsible, accountable, or both. However, if a person is either responsible or accountable it cannot be also informed or consulted (it would make no sense). In fact, if a person is consulted it should have no other role, and the same is true if a person is informed (it would make no sense either).

Since RACI matrix are high-level, it is common to prepare them in Microsoft PowerPoint rather than Excel or other tools. They are meant to be presented at high-level in fact. We can quickly see an example to make things clear.

The RACI Matrix: example of Responsible Accountable Consulted Informed roles in a software development project
An example of RACI Matrix made with PowerPoint.

In this example RACI matrix, we are defining the activities to develop the software for finance. We start by defining the scope of work, which will be done by IT consulting the finance team, but also informing the purchase team as we will need to outsource at least part of the work (and so purchase external work).

Then, it is time to create a tender where external suppliers can bid. IT maintains the lead, but now consults with purchasing and also informs audit, as we are spending company’s money. We go on with software development, always with IT and keeping finance informed.

Moving to the final stages, we reach the quality assurance tests where IT still maintains the lead but goes back to consult finance and starts to inform HR so they can get ready to prepare training material. If everything is fine, we move to the final validation – now IT will still own the final result (because they must create a good software), but finance will be responsible to do the validation. HR remains informed, and so is audit to indicate work is reaching the end.

Finally, everything is fine, and we need to terminate the outsourcing contract. IT will own the decision (accountable), but it will be the purchasing team to do so.

Responsible Accountable Consulted Informed in a Nutshell

In this brief guide we went through all the four roles of the RACI framework: responsible accountable consulted informed. If you have these roles clear, it will be much easier to navigate through complex projects and discern who’s who.

If you need a final recap:

  • Responsible is the person doing the actual work
  • Accountable is the person owning the outcome of the work
  • Consulted is sought after for advice and validation by responsible/accountable
  • Informed is a passive observer in the project who gets notified

The same person or department can have different roles in different activities, and the same person may be both responsible and accountable in the same activity. To visualize the overall picture, you may want to use a RACI matrix to show people and activities, and the role each person has in each activity. The same can apply to departments rather than individuals.

Picture of Alessandro Maggio

Alessandro Maggio

Project manager, critical-thinker, passionate about networking & coding. I believe that time is the most precious resource we have, and that technology can help us not to waste it. I founded with the same principle: I share what I learn so that you get value from it faster than I did.
Picture of Alessandro Maggio

Alessandro Maggio

Project manager, critical-thinker, passionate about networking & coding. I believe that time is the most precious resource we have, and that technology can help us not to waste it. I founded with the same principle: I share what I learn so that you get value from it faster than I did.

Alessandro Maggio


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