Show you're on top of your game with proven project management methods
Who doesn't love a project? Something to really get your teeth into. It certainly makes the working day go more quickly if you're focused on a particularly engaging process or activity, while moving systems forward. But what happens when things go wrong? Infighting between team members might break out. No one is quite sure who has the overall say in what happens next. Accountability has gone out the window. There's a chance some deadlines could be missed.
And when it comes to delving deeper into why it's actually gone wrong, it almost always leads back to one issue - a lack of clarity as to who is meant to be doing what throughout the process of the project.
This confusion and lack of direction can be prevented however.
Say hello to RASCI.
It's a simple method that helps to define roles and responsibilities for projects, programmes, and processes.
If you're into project management roles, then you'll know that there are countless processes and methods that you can adopt to guide you and ensure that project activities run smoothly. These include continuous improvement, PRINCE2, Kaizen and Six Sigma. They all have their benefits. But RASCI is simple, easy to understand, and gets the job done. It's just a question of allocation at the first stage.
What does RASCI stand for?
First of all, let's delve into what RASCI actually stands for. It's called a responsibility assignment matrix and the acronym stands for:
R - Responsible
A - Accountable
S - Supportive
C - Consulted
I - Informed
Let's channel BBC1's The Apprentice here. If you're familiar with this long-standing series, you'll be aware that at the beginning of each task, the two teams sit around the table focused on the meeting (in their sharp suits and bodycon dresses) and discuss who's going to be Project Manager. There's normally either a deathly silence, with everyone avoiding each other's gaze, or three or four team members who pile in to pitch their own strengths. Once someone has been voted in as PM, they then have to decide the logistics of who's going to be responsible for which areas of the task. Inevitably, it all falls into chaos, with people talking over others or being moody at the back of the room.
If only they knew about RASCI! It would make things so much easier, and mean they'd look much more professional.
Delving into the machinations of how RASCI works
Let's break RASCI down into its component parts so that it's easy to figure out how it works.
R - Responsible: “I'll get the job done”
This is the person or persons who actually do the work. However, it needs to be made crystal clear if any other stakeholders, third parties, or partners are also involved in the process. If the team becomes stressed, they'll need to have their minds put at rest before progressing with the project in hand.
A - Accountable: “The buck stops with me”
Having accountability is key, though it can mean the finger might be pointed at this person if anything goes off track. Being accountable means holding that weight of responsibility and potentially solving problems when things go awry. Ideally, there should be only one person who takes on this role, and this same person can't be R as this can lead to issues where one stakeholder controls too much and there are no checks or balances in place. In this position, you'll certainly want to be able to build and sustain positive relationships easily and quickly, as this will help towards the success of completing the project in the long run.
S - Supportive (aka Supplier): “I'll provide assistance along the way”
The supporters do what it says on the tin - providing support and resources to the Responsible team members. They're actively involved in working in collaboration with Rs to ensure that the project gets completed to a high standard. The Ss and Rs have the same goals to achieve.
C - Consulted: “I want to be involved in all of the decisions”
The Consulted part of RASCI are those stakeholders who want to be part of the discussions before a task or action is undertaken. They're often subject matter experts (SMEs) who are vital to the progress and success of the project. Effective communication is required here, so it's wise to limit the amount of Cs that you want involved as the constant back and forth can add a significant amount of time to the process.
I - Informed: “I want to know what's going on at every turn”
To be the I of the RASCI is to be informed of any outcomes and decisions that've been made after a task has been finished. It's about keeping these people up-to-date, but they're not a part of the decision making process. It's vital to clarify at the start of the process if someone's a C or an I, as there's a really big difference and you don't want your reputation to go down the pan because of one small error.
If you've taken on any of the above roles and the project has been a success, or you've achieved something within it that's worth shouting about, make sure you add it into your CV, even if you're not actively seeking a role at the moment. It's worth keeping track of all those accomplishments, so none get left out when you do decide it's time for a change of role.
How to create a RASCI
Take the right steps to include a RASCI document in each programme or project brief, to clearly communicate all the relevant roles and responsibilities and who they're assigned to.
Here's how to do this:
Pinpoint the key stakeholders
List high level tasks using a spreadsheet and incorporate milestones
Assign the R (Responsible) and A (Accountable) for the overarching initiative
Top tip - try to stay away from always assigning the A to more senior members of the team, giving a chance for more junior members to shine.
- Assign the Ss (Supportive), Cs (Consulted) and Is (Informed) for the tasks
Identify whether a particular person is overloaded with too many R and, if so, address this by redistributing the responsibility of tasks to other team members
Check to make sure there aren't too many Cs as this can slow progress
Review the completed RASCI with all of the team, make adjustments if needed, and sign-off
Top tip - don't ever assign a role to someone without checking with them first, as that member of staff must be fully aware of their obligations so that they can concur with taking on that type of responsibility.
- With the RASCI completed, make sure it's accessible to the entire team in an easily locatable place
- Keep close tabs on the RASCI as the project moves forward, adjusting when necessary
Top tip - it's not necessary to have Ss, Cs and Is for every single task, but if there are gaps, it could be indicative that you've missed out some of the stakeholders.
The A should be someone who's readily accessible and relevant to the project
There should only be one A per activity
An A carries with it an air of authority
The amount of staff members assigned as Cs and Is should be kept to a minimum
The advantages of using RASCI
Helps to identify all the roles and responsibilities of each stakeholder within a project
Clearly defines who's working on which sub-task of a project with an “at a glance” confirmation
Can help with resolving any conflicts within the group about who's accountable for what
Eliminates any confusion, as specific tasks can be assigned to specific team members
Identifies if a member is overwhelmed with assignments, which can be adjusted accordingly in order to balance the workload
Provides clarity by embedding an organisational hierarchy within a project
Increases the speed with which decisions can be made, so work can be accomplished more quickly
Does away with the duplication of effort
Embraces onboarding and changes within the team
Analysing a RASCI matrix
In order to analyse your matrix, you need to check it out and make sure it's working. You can achieve this through vertical and horizontal analyses.
Check each column up and down, cell by cell, looking for pain points:
If there's no R assigned, it could leave a group member with nothing to do, which means time and resources are wasted on doing minor tasks
But too many Rs can leave a team member with too much to do, which, in turn, can lower productivity
If there are too many As, it can mean there's just one person controlling all the major decisions for numerous sub tasks, which could slow down the project
With all boxes full, it could lead to one person having too much to deal with
Conversely, too many free boxes can mean an individual has too much time on their hands, which wastes time and resources
Check each row left to right, cell by cell, looking for pain points:
No R means a sub-task hasn't got anyone responsible for it, leading to the task being left incomplete
With too many Rs, this can result in a “too many cooks spoil the broth” scenario, where having too many people involved in the task means it won't be done to a high standard
A lack of As will leave Rs with no-one to report to or seek permission from
Yet too many As could cause conflict with an overload of team members involved in decision making
Too many Cs and Is can lead to excessive communication back and forth as there are too many people consulting on a particular task
Taking all the above into account, a more even distribution of responsibilities or maintaining simple, quick, and effective communication channels will eliminate project slowdowns or downtime before they become a problem.
The impact of not following RASCI
For complex projects, that involve numerous members of staff as well as a significant amount of tasks, ignore the RASCI matrix at your peril. It could potentially result in a negative impact on project team members as well as on a variety of project outcomes. Teams won't work in harmony, blame will be prevalent, decisions will be made without any knowledge or involvement of other team members, or decisions won't be made at all.
If team members aren't assigned specific duties and tasks, there's a chance that time wasting and slacking off will reach a high level. On the other hand, other team members might get overwhelmed with the amount of tasks they have to achieve which leads to demotivation and a lack of delivery.
RASCI vs RACI
You might have heard RASCI being referred to as, or reduced to, RACI. It's all about the S - or lack of it. Both terms can be used interchangeably, and while they do really mean the same thing, the omittance of the S simply implies that particular position isn't required, as it can be merged with either the R or the C roles.
But including that Supportive role identifies the fact that this is a resource to the project, whether that be in the shape of experience, knowledge, or technical skills. They might not be responsible for the actual task itself, but they give their time and lend an ear to make a real difference. It's a group of team members providing valuable resources, but without the responsibility of having an impact on the project. This support gives much needed focus and recognition of the involvement of project team members, and helps them to define expectations and the deliveries of each role.
Being organised and flexible are some of the top traits to have when coordinating and planning a project or process. Championing the RASCI approach can only help, so embrace this methodology.
Project management is such a wide-ranging skill, incorporating so many different aspects of a job, that it can be overwhelming when it comes to highlighting this in your CV. Take heart, and the bull by the horns, by investing time in yourself for once. Take advantage of the free online CV review that TopCV offers. It's a way of getting you started on improving your job-related documents, including how to showcase any project management attributes.
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