Using RACI Charts to Improve Processes

With all the pressures on IT to deliver effective, efficient and economical services that also are compliant, process design is more important than ever.
With all the pressures on IT to deliver effective, efficient and economical services that also are compliant, process design is more important than ever.

In understanding current processes, as well as designing new processes, it is vital to recognize the roles and responsibilities required. To this end, processes can be flow-charted and then mapped using a RACI chart in order to understand and clarify responsibilities.

The RACI chart (pronounced “racey”) allows for each task step to be identified; then each stakeholder and their responsibilities can be identified. The resulting chart can be scrutinized for opportunities for improvement.

With a standard RACI, there are four responsibilities and issues to consider with each opportunity:

  • Responsible [R] – This is the person or group responsible for performing a task. Bear in mind the adage that when nobody is responsible for getting something done, then nothing gets done. Also, a similar situation can occur when too many people are potentially responsible with little to no coordination and oversight to ensure that the task is completed. Another issue to consider is when a person has lots of “R’s”. Are they doing too much?

  • Accountable [A] – This is the person who is held accountable for the task being complete. In some cases, risks can be managed by segregating the responsible and accountable roles. In general, one person should be accountable for a task being performed. At the same time, if a person is accountable for most of the steps in a procedure, one must consider if there is a segregation of duties issue wherein the person(s) controls too much.

  • Consulted [C] – These are the people communicated with prior to a task being performed. Essentially, their input is sought and factored in prior to any action. As the number of parties consulted increases, the speed with which action can be taken decreases. Conversely, too few and improper decisions may be made.

  • Informed [I] – These are the parties who are notified about a task after it has been performed. If the correct parties aren’t informed in some situations, then incidents can arise from groups wondering what changed. At the same time, if there are lots of people being informed, is it necessary?

  • Supports [S] - Some groups add this in as a fifth responsibility. “S” identifies a person or group who provide resources for a task to be completed. When charts include this category, they are referred to as “RASCI charts,” but otherwise are identical to RACI charts.

    RACI charts are very useful both in terms of understanding the current responsibilities within a given process and also for discussing revised processes, clarifying roles and responsibilities, etc.

    Now, let’s take an example process and use the RACI technique to identify responsibilities for each task and role combination. (Chart at bottom of page.)

    Step 1: The business manager is both responsible for completing a new user form and is accountable for it being complete. The system owner is informed of the new request form being initiated.

    Step 2: The system owner is both responsible and accountable for the review and approval of the new user account form. Security is consulted with to ensure the request is consistent with current security policies. Finally, Security is notified of the authorized form as is the Service Desk. (Note, for simplicity we aren’t covering the rejection of a request which would be another branch in the flow chart for this particular procedure.

    Step 3: The Security group is responsible for the creation of the user profile on the system in question. The IT Manager for the department is held accountable for the task being completed according to defined standards. Note that the accountability lies with one person ideally. Diffused accountability reduces accountability! In addition, after the account has been created, the Business Manager and the Service Desk are informed of the task being completed.

    Step 4: The documentation supporting the request is then filed according to defined standards by the Security group and, again, the IT Manager is accountable for the task being completed. The Service Desk is informed that the documentation has been appropriately filed, which essentially means the work has been completed in this case. Step 5: The Service Desk is then responsible for informing the Business Manager that the new user account has been successfully created.

    When reviewing the charts, look vertically down the columns to see how each stakeholder is involved. Additionally, look horizontally at how each stakeholder is involved with each task. Look for lack of accountability, excessive workload, segregation of duties issues, too many people being informed or consulted, and so on.

    In closing, when attempting to understand processes, both those currently in place as well as new ones, RACI charts can be a useful tool in their formal documentation and then discussion with groups to try and ensure proper design.

    RACI_v1

    Note: An Excel RACI chart template can be downloaded here.






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