If you’re wondering, “What the heck is RA(S)CI, and why should I care?” it’s okay! I’m here to help. And even if you’ve heard of it (or even used it) in the past, a refresher might come in handy. While it is a pretty common tool, not every team or company takes advantage of its benefits. But maybe they should! We regularly utilize this technique at ESG to provide clarity on project roles and responsibilities.
But, I’m getting ahead of myself – let me back up and cover the basics.
RA(S)CI is a project management tool that stands for Responsible, Accountable, Supportive (which is sometimes left out of the acronym), Consulted, and Informed. It’s a management technique used to define stakeholder roles and responsibilities for any initiative involving multiple parts, people, and tasks. RASCI helps establish who is responsible for what and to what extent. Much like project charters and Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), we can borrow these techniques from the project management discipline for Customer Success projects, programs, and processes.
RASCIs are extremely useful in cross-team collaboration, especially when the division of responsibilities and tasks gets tricky. At the beginning of an initiative, filling out the RASCI or RACI matrix (whichever version works best for you) produces an efficient, at-a-glance chart for all participants to reference throughout the project. It spells out precisely what stages of the project each person must take ownership in executing, whose opinions should be considered, and who needs to be kept in the loop.
Too many cooks, too little too late, or other role confusion issues? It’s RASCI to the Rescue!
The Project Management Institute defines RASCI as a “Responsibility Assignment Matrix” that specifies the roles of all stakeholders but can “also serv[e] as the baseline of the communications plan by stipulating who receives information, how frequently, and at what level of detail.” They come in various forms of complexity but are essentially a simple point of reference for everyone’s roles concerning a project’s activities and deliverables, agreed upon up-front.
The project/process/ongoing program is first broken down into its steps or tasks along one side of the matrix (typically the vertical Y axis). Depending on how much detail you want to capture, this might include elements of the initiative like planning, design, testing, and output. On the other axis (usually the horizontal X), you’ll identify the project roles and the team member in each position and list them along that side.
Hot tip: If you’re using a RASCI for longer-term processes, it’s best to go by role on this axis rather than the name of the individual in the role because people switch roles all the time. For shorter-term projects, you might want to use each team member’s name to keep things clear.
Once you’ve plotted the X and Y axes of your matrix, you’re ready to start filling it in with the letters of RASCI, each representing a level of responsibility for the given task.
Give me an R! – The types of responsibilities in RA(S)CI
When you’re marked with an “R” on the RASCI sheet, it means you own the management of that particular task. This doesn’t necessarily mean you’re all alone in completing it (more on that in a minute), but it means the group can count on you to see it through. It also typically means that you own making any final decisions related to the task.
An “A” means you’re accountable for the task’s completion. You are the final authority for this step in the project and would be the one to declare “this is done.” You may also be the one to let others know of its completion (so the group can move on to the next step) or the one who might be responsible for adding this piece to the final product. Only one “A” should be assigned per task and they should have the appropriate level of authority to ensure the task gets done.
If you’ve got an “S,” it means you’re supporting the person with an “R” in this activity. You’re contributing by doing some of the work, but you’re not managing it or liable for its completion. RACI works without the “S,” but I prefer to include it because it’s more precise when more than one person is needed to complete a task.
If there is a “C” at the intersection of your role/name and the task/deliverable, it means that you are an advisor or a subject matter expert. Others will depend on you for two-way communication so they can get what they need to get the job done. You’re an essential resource for “R” and “S” to complete this action/deliverable.
An “I” indicates that you need to be kept informed about progress on the task at hand. You aren’t necessarily giving feedback (and shouldn’t be a roadblock to completion of the task), but you do need to know when this step of the process/project is completed.
Leveraging RASCI in Customer Success
Sometimes other departments treat Customer Success like the new kid on the block who doesn’t necessarily fit in or have the experience and clout to get things done. Which often means that breaking through silos is a big focus for many CS organizations. RASCIs help untangle messy group dynamics by providing a clear plan for everyone on a project right from the start. If you’re a CS leader working across teams to get your initiatives off the ground, RASCI is a great tool to avoid role confusion or the uneven allocation of resources. It also clarifies expectations and authority for each action item, so there’s less reason for conflict.
Whether it’s used cross-functionally or among internal teams, RASCI can also help keep track of the action items and project deliverables, ensuring that nothing critical gets overlooked. And last but not least, RASCI encourages communication between project group members so that everybody remains in sync and well-informed throughout.