Brett Knowles, Head of Innovation at Hirebook
Brett is a long-time thought leader in the Strategy Execution space for high-tech organizations, beginning in the late 80’s while teaching at Harvard and being involved in the initial Balanced Scorecard research and books. His client work has been published in Harvard Business Review, Forbes, Fortune and countless other business publications.
Pub: February 26 2021
. Upd: October 18 2021
This is almost a repeating story. A new year. A new strategy. A great all-hands meeting. Team morale is high. Executive stakeholders are pleased. But within a month, things start to fall apart - tasks forgotten, deadlines are missed, people don’t know what to do. And suddenly, your whole strategy is off track.
What went wrong?
Perhaps many things, but one for sure is the lack of clarity around roles and responsibilities in your roadmap. Clear roles and responsibilities are a critical success factor for any strategy. Without them, activities can quickly derail and stakeholders are left trying to pick up the pieces.
Enter the RACI (AKA RASCI, RAPID, etc.). RACI helps organizations streamline their processes by ensuring each team member and stakeholder understands their specific roles.
What is RACI?
A RACI is a framework that defines and documents ownership and responsibility within a process or project.. With RACI, every key process, task, milestone, and decision is mapped out.
The term RACI is an acronym that designates four primary roles within a project:
- Responsible: One person (or a few people) who is responsible for completing the assigned task or function. They are responsible for finishing the work or making a decision. They are the “doers.”
- Accountable: The person who is accountable for the successful completion of the work (i.e., the “owner” of the work). This person approves the final work completed. The ”responsible” people are accountable to this person. Accountability is ever only owned by one person.
- Consulted: The people who must be consulted if the Accountable person wishes to change the process. They provide necessary input and information on the project and tasks. They are usually subject matter experts and play an active role in the process.
- Informed: The people or stakeholders who need to be kept in the loop after changes are made to the progress or project. They don’t contribute directly to decisions but need to be aware of them.
Every OKR needs to have a RACI (RAPID etc.) defined for it to ensure success. Everyone needs to know what their role is in association with the OKR to avoid conflict, making decisions where they should and informing people where required, etc. Management needs to know each person’s accountability so that they can work with the right people about the right things.
Benefits of the RACI Model
The value of the RACI model is that it is both quick and easy to create and also a powerful tool to maintain expectations, organize roles, and streamline processes from project start to finish.
The RACI model has several key benefits that make it especially valuable for project managers. This visual:
- Aligns OKR with your organizational strategy - The RACI model takes your OKRs down to the individual level, so every employee knows what they need to be doing to contribute to the company’s success. Additionally, if you decide to adjust your strategy, you can adjust your RACI model accordingly so everyone in the company is refocused and headed in the same direction.
- Clarifies roles and eliminates confusion - When you use the matrix to assign roles and tasks, it makes it easy to understand who does what. In many instances, people can become confused on how to perform a different role, especially if it is out of their normal job title.
- Keeps strategy on track - Cutting down on any confusion prevents delays, clearly defines what is to be expected, and ensures effective communication.
- Ensures nothing falls through the cracks - Multiple roles and tasks can be assigned to multiple people. This is important because strategy requires big, complex, cross-functional work on a large project with other people. When team members can clearly see what they need to do, and how to do it, the task becomes easier.
- Ensures smooth transitions and handoffs - When there is turnover in the organization, your OKRs take a hit. Objectives get dropped, work gets delayed and people begin wasting their time and energies.
- Prioritizes communication - Between teams and stakeholders - making sure the right people know the right things and can make the right decisions.
- Everyone is Accountable - RACI is the best way to ensure the right employees are held accountable for any decision they make - and everyone knows who is accountable for what. It is an excellent way to ensure the right people get the credit for their great work.
- Assess Workloads - After tasks are assigned, through OKRs you can track how a specific person’s workload looks. If it looks like they have more than they can handle, tasks and assignments can easily and clearly be reassigned.
- Team Operates More Smoothly - Since everyone is aware of their tasks and duties, communication becomes easier and faster. Team members can consult with one another, especially when they’re having trouble with a task. Cutting down on the confusion lets team members work smoothly.
- Puts Priorities on Project Resources - One of the toughest things about strategy is knowing where to put the resources.
- Check Your Staffing Levels - Fully staffing a company can be difficult if you don’t know where you need more people. Using the RACI you can pinpoint holes in your company capacity and competencies so they can be filled.
- New Team Members are Seamlessly Incorporated - New team members can get caught up to speed with all elements of their new responsibilities. This will result in saving time and money on training and onboarding.
- Identifies Those Avoiding Responsibility - When team members avoid responsibility, others have to take on those responsibilities. Addressing any problems is crucial to preventing any future issues that may arise. Even if a team member doesn’t have much to contribute, if they’re not willing to take on extra work for a project, it hurts the whole team.
- Authority is Clearly Defined to External Vendors and Contractors - It’s important those contractors and vendors know exactly who to talk to, and whose directions they should follow.
- Communication is Easier Between Team Members - Smooth-running operations require that team members can communicate quickly and easily. This cuts down on any prolonging issues and open communication is paramount to establishing trust within the company.
- Reduces Overlap - OKRs often overlap and decision making can bog-down between teams. Ensuring that every team knows what task to do makes the project run more smoothly.
- It enables employee engagement - When you define OKRs with RACI you’ll reduce the amount of confusion associated with each OKR. This, in turn, helps employees feel less stressed and more engaged in their roles, as they know precisely what they are responsible for and what they don’t need to worry about.
- Assists with employee training - Once you know which employees are assigned to each part of the RACI model, you’ll be able to ensure employees in every category get the right kind of training. Training is a waste of time unless employees are learning things that will add value to your business.
- Decreases frustration with management - If an employee isn’t sure how they should escalate a problem—or whether they should just try to fix it themselves—it creates frustration. By assigning RACI roles, every employee knows precisely who to speak with about a potential process change or hang-up, thus alleviating frustration with management.
- Saves time in meetings - With the RACI associated with each OKR, you’ll know exactly who needs an invitation to a particular meeting based on their roles in a particular project or process, saving the time of those who simply don’t need to be there.
Photo credit- pressfoto