Using SharePoint to Manage Roles & Responsibilities (RACI)

The other day I noticed that someone searched my blog for “using SharePoint to create a RACI”. I had not really thought about it before, but the RACI is a perfect tool to incorporate into your SharePoint project environment. I bounced the idea off of a couple of my colleagues and they agreed, so I went to work creating a prototype of the RACI in my project site template.

About the RACI

The RACI Chart is an effective tool for the team to define and communicate roles and responsibilities throughout the project life cycle (in the context of specific project deliverables). For each of the key deliverables and team roles (not necessarily ALL deliverables and roles) the RACI defines:

  • R (Responsible) – The person or role with primary responsibility for the deliverable (person that is going to manage the work associated with the deliverable)
  • A (Accountable) – The person or role that is accountable for the deliverable (the single throat to choke if there is a problem with the deliverable)
  • C (Contributor) – The persons or roles that will actively contribute to the deliverable (either as participants in sessions, or by completing specific activities that contribute to the final deliverable)
  • I (Informed) – The persons or roles that receive the deliverable for information purposes only. This information is useful when creating the communication plan.

This tool is a best practice area that removes ambiguity and confusion associated with who is responsible for what on the team. It is critical during team formation, but is an excellent point of reference throughout the project life cycle (and worth the investment to keep current). Below is an example of the RACI spreadsheet template that I use to manage project team roles and responsibilities. The Excel based RACI is a great tool, but sometimes a bit cumbersome to update as roles or deliverables are expanded / modified. In addition, it does not have an easy mechanism to filter the information based upon specific project phases or roles.


Creating the RACI in SharePoint

I used a custom list to create the RACI in my project site. First thing I decided to do was reverse the definition of X and Y axis from my Excel template. It is more logical to add project deliverables to the list, and then assign the roles / people in the supporting columns. I added the following columns to define the RACI in the custom list:

  • Deliverable: Title field for the name of the deliverable. Again, you will add key deliverables or groups of deliverables to the RACI chart (particularly large and complex deliverables).
  • Project Phase: Major phases of the project, defined as you tailor the list for your project. For purposes of the prototype, I put a number in front of the phase to facilitate sorting of the deliverables by project phase.
  • Resp-Role: Role on the team responsible for the deliverable. This is a look-up field to select a role from the Project Roles list.
  • Resp-Assigned to: Person assigned to be responsible for the deliverable. This is a look-up field to select a person from the Team Roster list.
  • Acct-Role: Role on the team accountable for the deliverable. This column is set-up the same as the Resp-Role column.
  • Acct-Assigned to: Person assigned to be accountable for the deliverable. This column is set-up the same as the Resp-Assigned to column.
  • Contr-Role: Roles on the team that contribute to the deliverable. This look-up field allows the user to select multiple roles from the Project Roles list.
  • Contr-Assigned to: Persons assigned to contribute to the deliverable. This look-up field allows the user to select multiple persons from the Team Roster list.
  • Inform-Role: Roles to be informed about the deliverable. This column is set-up the same as the Contr-Role columns.
  • Inform-Assigned to: Persons to be informed about the deliverable. This column is set-up the same as the Contr-Assigned to column.
  • Comments: Used to capture assumptions or open issues related to the roles and responsibilities for the deliverable.

Below is an illustration of the columns associated with the RACI Chart list.


Below is an example of the Deliverable input form for the RACI list. Using the look-up feature enables easy assignment of roles and persons to the deliverable.


Using SharePoint Views to Manage the RACI

I find it helpful to set-up different views in SharePoint to display the information appropriate to the project related process or audience.

The RACI Summary view displays the roles assigned for each deliverable (without people assignments). This is the view that will be referenced in your Project Management Plan.

The Responsible and Accountable view displays the responsible and accountable roles and assignments for the project deliverables. These are the most critical roles established in the RACI and this view helps identify gaps/problems with role or people assignments. In addition, you can easily filter the list to display deliverables associated with specific roles or people.


The Contributor and Informed view displays the roles and people contributing to or informed about project deliverables. This view will be helpful when loading resources into the project schedule (contributor), and creating the communications plan (informed).

Top 7 Benefits of Managing the RACI in SharePoint

The RACI Chart is a great best practice area to build into your project environment for improved collaboration and communications associated with project roles and responsibilities. The following are the top benefits associated with maintaining your RACI Chart in SharePoint:

  1. Easy to add new deliverables to the RACI
  2. Sort the deliverables by project phase, tailored to reflect your project phases
  3. Easy to assign roles and people to the deliverable using the look-up feature (roles from the Project Roles list, and people from the Project Team Roster)
  4. Use the Responsible and Accountable view to highlight “gaps” associated with role or people assignments
  5. Use the Contributor and Informed view to enhance the information available for the communication plan
  6. Ability to filter information to display deliverables assigned to specific roles or people
  7. Use comments to capture open assumptions or issues associated with specific deliverables or assignments


     

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About Steve Hart
Practice Manager responsible for project leadership & delivery services for the Cardinal Solutions Group in the RTP area. I am a PMP with 25 years of project management and technical leadership roles, have developed an extensive practical knowledge that spans a wide variety of industries, and project delivery approaches. As a practicing PMP, I am a member of the North Carolina PMI chapter. I am an avid sports fan, particularly the Miami RedHawks, Cleveland Indians, Cleveland Browns, and most recently the NC State Wolfpack.

26 Responses to Using SharePoint to Manage Roles & Responsibilities (RACI)

  1. Jeff Foster says:

    Steve,
    I think that using SharePoint for building a RACi chart is a very good idea. I would like to suggest workflows for managing task assignments when roles and or deliverables are expanded.
    I am looking into using SharePoint and workflows for my approach to change management with regard to ensuring the right people are assigned review roles when a change is requested. In essence, I am buiulding my SharePoint and following the CMII approach for CSI, CSII, and CSII and using some conditional statements for determining if the board must become involved when a change is requested. Basically a simplified version of another program that I have had the pleasure of being exposed to .

    Jeff

    • shart81 says:

      Jeff-
      I agree with your point on using workflows. I built it into the Change Request list, since changes need to be reviewed/approved before they are implemented in the plan. I did not add it to the RACI because I was not sure that approvals would be required to add/change roles and responsibilities. You agree? Maybe an alert would be more appropriate if the concern is making people aware of the change?

      Hope all is going well in you new endeavours. Your work with CMII and SharePoint sounds fun.

      Steve

  2. mike davis says:

    Steve,

    I am a IT network andmin and a very new SharePoint resource with moderate, self taught experience. I have been tasked with creating a RACI process in SharePoint for the different departments in our company to track roles and responsibilities. Your template and this article was a very happy find for me and i’d like to ask for permission to use it. If you are ameniable, I also was wondering if you could give me some general pointers to create the form and views you reference in this article. Thanks very much for your consideration.

    • Steve Hart says:

      No problem – you are welcome to use my template for your RACI. There is nothing proprietary about what we implemented within SharePoint. I found a custom list was the easiest way to create the RACI (becaue no other SharePoint list fit the need very closely). The other key thing we did was use look-up lists for roles (another custom list) and assigned-to (points to your contact list for the team roster). Then I created a few different views of the data to make it easier to consume. Let you know if you want more details. I am happy to provide you additional screen shots, etc.

  3. mike davis says:

    Thank you very much, Steve. I would appreciate some more details about your process. I am trying to build a semi-permanent RACI chart in Sharepoint which shows which of our IT teams is responsible for which type of support. I need to set our site up so that the list allows our team heads to use a simple form system to enter a responsibility or list of multiple responsibilities, multiple checkbox choices for the RACI designation to populate the chart by color and character as you did, choose the team and close. Then i need to build a view set to allow easy searching and filtering by team,or responsibility,.
    I am inexperienced with the process you used to create your forms and views. I have a pretty strong understanding of the mechanics of sharepoint, creating /customizing sites lists etc. I’ve also worked with some custom views. I have basic working experience with SharePoint Designer. With that in mind and my goals for this site above, if you would you be willing to provide a few pointers I would be much obliged.

    • Steve Hart says:

      I hope I did not confuse you. The color coded chart is my old Excel spreadsheet (which is a template on my blog under templates). When I converted this to SharePoint, I found it was easier to reverse the Axis. I made it so you could add an unlimited amount of deliverables (responsibilities) to the list. Then you add roles for each deliverable as R-Responsible, A-Accountable, C-Contributor, and I-Informed. Since you do not need names in your list it will make it that much easier to set-up.

      The color coding is not something you can do out of the box in SharePoint. You would need to add some code using tools like Silverlight to improve the presentation of the list. However, I think if you see the examples of the list views I created, the data is pretty usable without the color coding.

      Let me know if you want better or more screenshots of what I set-up in SharePoint.

      I am happy to set up more direct communication to help you if you would like.

      Steve

  4. mike davis says:

    Steve, in the pursuit of my goals above, if you could point me in the right direction for the forms and views you set up, im sure i can revise them to meet what i need. is it possible to enter multiple responsibilities at one time per “role”? i dont need to track people with mine, just teams and responsibilities. Thank you VERY much for your time.

    • Steve Hart says:

      Normally the way a RACI is set-up you have deliverables (responsibilities) and then Roles that are assigned as an R (Responsible), A (Accountable), C (Contributor) and I (Informed). By continuing to add deliverables (responsibilities) to the list, you naturally assign multiple deliverables to each role as a R-A-C-I. Probably the two that are most important to you are the R and A. You also have the ability to assign multiple roles to a deliverable (there is a multiple values checkbox when you set-up the field in the custom value). Sounds like you do not need the “Assigned-to” columns if all you need are roles vs. named individuals.

  5. mike davis says:

    agreed. i was just recently exposed to the raci system but i think i get it. my issues are creating the form as in your post and the views to filter the chart by team or responsibility. i imported your raci template as a custom list, but im unsure of the next steps. i would be grateful for any relevant hints or screenshots you would find convenient to provide. Thanks!

  6. Mike Davis says:

    i would like to take u up on your offer of more direct communication if it would be convenient for you. your raci system on sharepoint seems perfect for what we need to accomplish and id love to learn more. I dont need the color coding so much, just a form our team leads can use to choose their team froma dropdown, enter responsibilities and check the appropriate raci initial. i then need to filter with custom views for team and responsibilities. i removed the color coding from your template reversed the axes and impoted it as a custom list. im confused about creating a second custom list. i also dont know where to create the form. i have used sharepoint designer to a very basic extent and have looked at the list form web part but havent gotten it to work yet. I was tasked with this and i ahve to finish the basic setup by monday.This has very high visibility for me and id apprecite greatly any suggestions you have. Thank You!

  7. Mike Davis says:

    Good Afternoon, I was wondering if I could trouble you for the additional screenshots you mentioned. I am having difficulty figuring out how you created the forms and views. Would I be able to use sharepoint designer for this? Did you make two cusotm lists 1 for the raci and one for the roles? Thank you very kindly.

  8. Steve Hart says:

    Congratulations to Mike Davis for his successful implementation of this approach to manage roles and responsibilities!

    • Simon Cuffe says:

      Hi Steve, I have just taken a position where I need to use this exact approach to define responsibilities between a Client and an MSP, Could I trouble you for the templates, this would be of great help and save me a lot of time. – Many thanks Simon

  9. Bob Iliff says:

    Steve, just an end user, but I have a need to capture “best processes” in SharePoint, and the RACI format is attractive. My approach would have been to use a Gantt View webpart, and add the custom columns since the tasks are already in rows. I don’t see the Gantt timeline as being a distraction since you can include some kind of “canned” expected duration for each task, and modify that as you go, or while assigning tasks. I’d include a column for reference documents to be attached, and have a Function and (specific) Resource column to indicate which function is generically responsible, and for this application, which specific individual. Does this approach also have legs?

    • Steve Hart says:

      Bob- The only reason I shy away from using the Gantt view in SharePoint is that it ends up with being duplicate maintenance of information I already have in my project schedule (MS Project). Implementation of Project Server solves the duplicate maintenance issue. However, if you do not have an issue with the maintenance associated with the Gantt view, adding custom columns to incorporate the concepts of the RACI is a great idea. The only thing I would caution against is maintaining RACI information at too low a level (at the task/activity level).

      I really appreciate input like this, because it gets me thinking about additional ways to leverage SharePoint to improve project delivery. I think use of the Gantt view web part is a great idea for a future blog post. Thanks!!!

      Steve

  10. Bob Iliff says:

    Steve, thanks for the response. I had not intended to couple a SharePoint RACI so directly with MS Project, but if you can consider the Critical Chain approach to project management, I think the two are compatible. In MS Project, the PM would have some large sub-process on the critical path, say, “register product”. The team adds the RACI webpart that guides them through product registration, and enters their own “actuals” into this more granular timeline. This “alerts” the total duration back to the PM, who updates MS Project for the “register product” sub-process. If there were several “canned” RACI web parts for specific sub-processes, the PM could load these into the team site so the team can anticipate the sequence and manpower demands of that specific project. The RACI format brings repeatablility and governance for multi-functional sub-processes…it imparts itself as a Best Practice.

  11. Don Harwood says:

    Steve, this is a great idea! One item that I am trying to expand upon with this is “RACI Governance. Would you happen to have any great thoughts on how to ensure that the roles designations are being upheld over the long term (for example, how can we best ensure those who are supposed to be responsible for an action or decision are truly doing so? Thanks for any advice!

    • Steve Hart says:

      Don, Thanks! One of the most important aspects of implementing the RACI on your project is ensuring that other project artifacts re-enforce the roles and responsibilities established in the RACI. The project schedule should have resource assignments that are consistent with Responsible assignments in the RACI. Similarly, risk, issue and decision ownership within the tracking processes/tools should be based upon who is responsible or accountable for the related deliverable. The other thing that is critical to making the RACI an effective tool for managing roles and responsibilities from a governance perspective is making sure that it is maintained throughout the project cycle. Roles and people assignments should be adjusted appropriately, as well as deliverables added / changed as the project progresses. The RACI is a great framework for defining roles and responsibilities, but it does not replace the discipline to ensure that people follow-through on specific assignments. Hopefully this helps. Steve

  12. Justin Fagan says:

    Steve,
    Great article. I began implementing the use of RACI models in SharePoint as of last year. I am developing it out to the point where I can produce a job specific page where employee’s processes, tasks, notifications, etc. can be spoon fed to them with the use of views.

  13. Amer Hajj says:

    Hello Steve,

    Thanks for this artical. Im new to this whole Sharepoint business and it would be great if you can help me understand your RACI on Sharepoint experience. I understand that you created views of the RACI table and that you have a form for capturing RACI info per deliverable, However is there a workflow that reads of that RACI table to? In my mind i was thinking to have some kind of a “dynamic” Sharepoint Workflow that, on a given event trigger on a particular deliverable, would refer back to the RACI table or Chart (already defined by PM somewhere on sharepoint) to determine what is the next step (who to send the deliverable to next and to do what (approve or FYI..etc)). So for example of Deliverable X as been developed by the person responsible for it, when uploaded and workflow event is triggered, sharepoint looks at the RACI table and sees that X needs to be reviewed and approved by John and Amy needs to be informed about this submission. So an email is sent to John to approve and another email is sent to Amy telling her that X as been submitted and now with John for approval…something like that.

    is that possible? You kind input please:)

    Amer

    • Steve Hart says:

      Hello Amer-
      Thanks so much for your feedback. There is definitely a lot of ways to expand on deliverable and roles and responsibility tracking. One thing I would suggest staying away from is storing the deliverables in the list itself (as attachments). When you do that you lose a lot of functionality that you get using document libraries (e.g., version control). You can always add fields in your list to link to the actual deliverable / library.

      Also, I usually recommend getting started with the list. Get the tool and processes implemented, and then continue to improve it. Sometimes when you try and do too much too soon, you get tied up in implementation problems and do not realize some of the benefits from the “low hanging fruit”. Things like workflow sound like a good idea, but I would recommend getting up and running with your RACI list / deliverable tracking and then add the work flow as part of your continuous improvement cycle.

      Hopefully I fully answered your question.

      Steve

  14. Michael says:

    Hi Steve
    Great post — this is certainly a good way to get the RACI into sharepoint. Question: have you got any ideas about how to filter the RACI so that it shows, for any given person or role, all of the rows where they appear in any column of the list? i.e. “Show me everything that Joe is involved in, and show me if he’s responsible, accountable, consulted or informed” Thanks.

    • Steve Hart says:

      Thanks!

      There is not an out-of-the-box feature that I know of that is a direct hit for your idea (which is a good one). There are a couple options that are close:
      1) You can set up a view that filters on assigned to [me]. People could use this view to see what is assigned to them (responsible or accountable would be the most important to focus on). This does not give you the ability to select other team membmer’s assignments — only your own.
      2) You can select an existing view and use the filters on specific columns to select specific individuals. Only problem with this approach is you would need to do each column (responsible and accountable) one at a time. You would get you the answer you are looking for, but probably not as streamlined as you were hoping.

  15. Pingback: How to create RACI Charting in SharePoint 2013 | Portal Integrators

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