A responsibility assignment matrix (also known as a RACI matrix) is a common tool for communicating roles and responsibilities on a project. The intention of using a RACI matrix is to clearly communicate who is responsible, who is accountable, who should be consulted, and who should be informed throughout the life of a project.
This article discusses what to consider when building a RACI matrix in Workfront as well as some of the trade-offs that come with different approaches.
Where to Build Your RACI Matrix
The first consideration to make is where in Workfront should your RACI information live. I have generally seen two approaches to RACI matrices while working with Workfront clients.
RACI fields added as custom data to projects. This approach makes sense for projects with shorter schedules or projects planned at a lower level of granularity. As a general rule I recommend planning projects at a milestone level when getting started in Workfront. Less project tasks means less overhead for updating work and can help facilitate adoption. Attaching RACI fields at the project level is ideal for keeping the roles and responsibilities simple.
RACI fields added as custom data on tasks (or even issues). For more complex projects that require coordination across multiple functional teams or departments, it may make more sense to track RACI assignments at a milestone or even individual task / issue level.
There is no reason you cannot track RACI fields at project, task and issue levels at the same time, but keep in mind that communicating RACI responsibilities to the project team will be complicated if the fields reside on more than one object.
What Custom Field Types to Use
The next consideration to make when configuring your RACI matrix is what custom field type to use. Again I have seen multiple approaches to the custom field type, each with different trade-offs.
Single Line Text Field. A single line text field provides more flexibility if you need to identify multiple users for each RACI role. The trade off is data integrity - reporting on your RACI information accurately will be difficult.
Dropdown Menu. A dropdown menu with predefined user names can ensure data integrity and allow for consistent RACI reporting, but the trade off with this approach is it only works if the list of RACI users is limited. The list of values in the RACI dropdown would have to be updated regularly as users come and go from your organization.
User Typeahead Custom Fields. My preferred approach is to leverage Workfront’s newest custom field type - the Typeahead field. Typeahead custom fields allow you to reference existing values for different objects in your Workfront instance. Using the Typeahead custom field for the User object allows you to reference your list of users in your Workfront instance when identifying the RACI roles. The benefits with this approach are that you already have a defined list that is kept in sync with your Workfront users and you have better data integrity than a free-form text field. The drawback with this approach is that Typeahead fields are limited to single value (i.e., one user can be identified as Responsible for each task).
Pro Tip: Leverage text mode filters on your typeahead field to limit the list of available users that can be referenced in each field.
Reporting On Your RACI Matrix
The final consideration to make is how to incorporate your RACI matrix into custom views, reports and dashboards. The simplest way to visualize a RACI matrix is to build a RACI view to be displayed in a project schedule or any other report where tasks are listed out.
PRO TIP: Use Advanced Options in your view builder to rename column headers from ‘Inform: Name’ to ‘Inform’. Renaming column headers to your desired nomenclature is helpful for adoption.
The end result is a simple RACI matrix that any project stakeholder can view from the project schedule by applying the right view. The same view can be achieved from a project list if you decide to manage your RACI roles at the project level.
To create a RACI matrix in your own instance based on the suggestions in this article, you would:
Create a task custom form (or edit an existing task custom form)
Add 4 typeahead fields - one for each RACI field
Fill those fields in for each role and responsibility
Create a new view in a project schedule to pull in these custom fields