The RASIC-Chart – a key tool for collaboration in projects
One of the key factors for successful collaboration in projects is having clear roles and responsibilities assigned. Otherwise work is maybe done twice, or nobody feels responsible for doing certain work packages, team members feel uncertain whether they are supposed to do work packages or others are doing it, or uncertainties ultimately increase the need for meetings, coordination, it may end in unnecessary discussions or even conflicts.
Before starting into a project, all roles involved should be clarified and the people taking over responsibilities for certain activities should know those responsibilities and commit to them. Thus, latest during a kick-off meeting, all team members should discuss and agree upon the RASIC Chart.
The RASIC-Chart or matrix is an integrated view of who is involved and in which role across all project activities or process steps, e.g. from start to end of a project. On the horizontal view you see all roles involved, e.g. the decision maker, the sales role, the project manager, the design role, the manufacturing role, the quality assurance role and so on and so forth. The roles are described in a rather generic way, later a name is being filled in the columns to show the actual person taking over that role. In cross-company collaboration projects, the roles could also be assigned to companies such as suppliers, partners or service providers (this is what we sometimes use in Automotive Industry for clarification of roles in a network of partners). The processes could follow a standard way of performing projects (or a certain category of projects), from the initiation of the project (e.g. the inquiry of the customer) until the approval of the end result. In Automotive Industry we typically have a high degree of repetition of projects, which means we typically develop a standard RASIC and the project manager adopts it (and changes it when necessary) for a specific project (category).
Starting from the first process down to the last line the project manager needs to discuss with the team members, who is doing what, means who is Responsible, Approving, Supporting, Informed and Consulting. It is important, that only ONE role can be responsible for a process. Other roles may support, consult or be informed by the responsible role. Another important aspect is the active involvement of the decision maker(s). This role needs to be shown in the RASIC. Typically, a decision maker´s role is to approve things, decide, to receive information such as reports and / or support with information, resources and / or advise. After filling the RASIC-Chart, a role can be highlighted (see the vertical frame in the illustration) from the start till the end and assigned to a specific person (or organisation) before starting into the project. The horizontal framework or view exemplifies which roles are involved in a certain process step. So for example, calling for a kick-off meeting (like process 4 in the illustration) involves several roles with different responsibilities. They all need to know, agree on and be involved when called upon by the project manager. In some RASIC-Charts special meetings such as status meetings are high-lighted as one of the processes with dates in a special column. Thus, besides roles and process information a RASIC-Chart may contain also information about timing.
For the project manager it is important to facilitate the development or adaptation of a given RASIC for the purpose of commitment. Commitment means, people that are supposed to take over a certain role need know about their responsibilities from the first to the last process step, they understand what it means for them to slip into that role (accountability and implications from a capacity point of view) and finally commit themselves to that role and responsibilities shown. Experience with the RASIC Charts shows that after a while, using the same kind of team for projects and the same kind of roles, the process, communication, coordination and collaboration is easy, performing well in a nice atmosphere. Isn´t that what we are striving for in our projects?