Clear Roles, Effective Collaboration With the RACI Matrix

Here’s a simple project-management tool that can help streamline internal communications — and clarify accountability — for annual meetings. 

Author: Dave Lutz, CMP       

Some components of planning an association annual meeting involve multiple departments and competing priorities. Membership wants one thing; publications, marketing, and chapter relations, another. Having too many cooks in the kitchen — and no clear owner — leads to wasted time, energy, and frustration.

As a product and project manager for your annual meeting, you can address this challenge by leading a collaborative process to clearly define individual and team roles and responsibilities. Here’s a helpful tool to guide you.

RACI Matrix

The RACI matrix is a visual project-management tool used to clarify and define project roles and responsibilities. The matrix is created using a spreadsheet with the project tasks or deliverables in the left-hand column and the teams or individuals as headers in the adjacent columns. Roles and responsibilities are assigned using this definition of RACI:

  • (R)esponsible: The one or two individuals who will complete the task or deliverable.
  • (A)ccountable: The one person who owns the task and is responsible for approving the work.
  • (C)onsulted: Individuals (can be as many as 10) who will communicate and provide input or guidance to the person(s) responsible. Try to avoid having too many team members in this category.
  • (I)nformed: An unlimited number of individuals who are kept in the loop. They are not asked for input or feedback — they’re basically on the distribution list.

RACI Applied

Large annual meetings often include an association booth and a member engagement area. A growing trend is to locate these in one central location. This is a prime example of where there could be multiple opinions and competing priorities. The matrix below provides a starting point for how the RACI could be applied to streamline communications and decision-making.

  1. The leadership team owns the strategy, purpose, and budget. They are kept informed on the progress of all of the tasks.
  2. Membership may own the creative design, while marketing is responsible for the creative design. The event team and publications are consulted.
  3. The vice president of events owns the layout, vendor communications, and on-site implementation with the meeting and event manager(s) being responsible for completing those deliverables. Membership, marketing, and publications are consulted and provide input for successful implementation.

Top-Down or Bottom-Up?

Getting team members’ buy-in on a project’s roles and responsibilities is critical to the success of the planning process. I’ve seen instances when RACI is completed by leaders instead of the individuals doing the work. In those cases, those doing the work despised the tool. Going through the shared effort of collaborating to create the RACI can be more valuable than the tool itself. A good RACI matrix will be an effective onboarding tool for new team members. It will also help guide and expedite cross-functional team meetings.

Dave Lutz, CMP, is managing director of Velvet Chainsaw Consulting.

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