Project management isn’t easy. If it were, no one would ever miss a deadline, and every initiative would launch perfectly on time. But that’s not the reality. Organizations of all sizes struggle — especially when it comes to the people aspect of project management (like team members stepping on each other’s toes, dropping the ball, or missing critical tasks). And the more people and departments involved, the bigger the headache.

But while projects will always have their challenges, managing people involved in a project doesn’t have to be as painful as many of us make it. There’s an easier way, and it’s surprisingly simple.

It’s called a RACI chart. And today, we’re delving into what it means, how it works, and why it’s the perfect solution for ensuring your next enrollment or retention initiative is a smash success.

What is RACI?

RACI is an acronym that stands for responsible, accountable, consulted, and informed, and is used when defining and assigning project roles. Here’s a quick breakdown:

R stands for responsible

As in “Who is responsible for the task?”

This can be one person or a group of people and is the party that handles all day-to-day, hands-on work.

A stands for accountable

As in “Who is accountable for ensuring the task is completed well?”
This is typically one person, but in some cases may be more. While this person isn’t involved in the day-to-day operations of the initiative, they’re ultimately held accountable for the project’s completion and, usually, its outcome. They sign off and approve various tasks.

C stands for consulted

As in “Who should be consulted on when decisions are made?”
These stakeholders will need to be kept in the loop on the project as it moves through various stages, engaged during big decisions, and must sign off on the project as a whole. This is the person (or people) whose opinion responsible, and accountable parties should seek out before moving forward.

I stands for informed

As in “Who should be kept informed about the progress?”
This person should be provided status updates but doesn’t need to know the finer, more granular details of each task and won’t complete any hands-on work.

Keep in mind that, depending on the project, people may fall into a different role for each task.

For example, a marketing professional might be responsible for writing new emails for a retention campaign, while an enrollment manager would be consulted. But when it comes to handling replies to those emails, the enrollment manager would be responsible while the marketing pro may be simply informed.


Download our RACI Template to get started today.


How to Use a RACI Chart

A RACI chart, or RACI matrix, is a method for recording and tracking your project roles and workstreams in a way that’s clear and straightforward. It helps you visually track progress during an initiative, and everyone involved recognizes their own roles as well as others’, so they know who to approach if they have questions or concerns.

The RACI method is particularly useful for busy admissions or enrollment teams and retention committees who often have simultaneously occurring projects to track and manage, because it’s easy to review at-a-glance.

Here’s how to build a RACI chart in four simple steps:

1. Identify and Assign Roles

At the top of your RACI chart, list each person involved in the project. Be as detailed as possible. For example, instead of using the label “admissions team,” list each specific individual. And make sure you’ve made an effort to gain buy-in from everyone mentioned in your RACI chart before kicking off the project, to maximize your success.

2. Define Tasks and Milestones

In the first column, you’ll want to list every task related to the project from start to finish. Be as granular as necessary, and don’t forget to include task spots for reviews. For example, if you’re updating the school website, you’ll need to build in time for senior stakeholders involved to review various assets before you move onto the next stage.

3. Assign Tasks to Each Role

Finally, for each task, choose a responsible, accountable, consulted, and informed party. Label them R, A, C, and I. Before kicking off the project, make sure each person involved understands their roles and responsibilities for every task.

4. Communicate the Chart to the Whole Team

Share your completed chart with the team and give everyone the opportunity to ask questions and provide feedback. Remember: the more buy-in you gain in the beginning, the better everyone will adhere to the plan long-term.

Here’s an example of a RACI chart: 

TASK

Moira, Marketing

Alexis, Admissions

David, Design

Johnny, Principal

Identify email topics

C

R

I

A

Write email copy

R

A

I

C

Review email copy

C

A

I

R

Design emails

A

C

R

I

Review email design

I

A

C

R

Add emails to CRM

R

A

C

I

Launch campaign

R

A

C

I

Remember: it doesn’t have to be complicated — you can build your RACI chart in excel, Google Sheets, or any spreadsheet program you prefer. Just ensure it’s shareable across your team and that it’s accessible to all responsible, accountable, consulted, and informed parties. And the more RACI charts you create, the more accustomed your team will be to the process, and the easier it will be for everyone involved.

Download our free RACI template to get started.


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How Can a RACI Chart Help Your School?

Admissions, enrollment, and retention efforts are never done. You’re always striving to attract new families, build a healthy-sized waitlist, keep enrollment numbers high, and retain existing students. In addition to ongoing efforts, you likely also have short-term initiatives, like updating processes, rolling out new tech, and hosting events.

A RACI chart can help you:

1. Streamline communication

When you provide a team with a framework like RACI, there’s no question of who handles what and no unnecessary office politics. Because everything is simple and clearly defined, all parties can quickly identify their role in relation to the rest of the team.

2. Break down silos

When projects span multiple teams or departments, there’s a tendency for people to stay within their silos and only communicate with their teammates. Because RACI clarifies each person’s role independent of their department, it helps eliminate those communication barriers.

3. Set clear expectations

With everything so clearly spelled out, there’s no room for misunderstanding your role or the roles of anyone else involved. Instead of being paralyzed by indecision or confusion, people can actively identify and tackle the tasks they’ve been assigned.

4. Define swim lanes

RACI charts eliminate the chance for anything to slip through the cracks. When everyone knows exactly what they’re supposed to do, there’s less risk of people stepping on each others’ toes or dropping the ball. Each person does their part and passes it along to the next member of the project team.

5. Create alignment with your team

Some projects have so many moving parts that it’s difficult for team members to recognize how their work fits within the bigger picture — or how other members’ efforts relate to theirs. RACI helps foster alignment, understanding, and engagement across the entire group.

6. Keep initiatives on track

When you lay out a project visually, it’s easier for team members to see where they stand — and it’s also easier to identify anything that may send a project off track. For example, if someone has too many responsibilities, you can offload some of the work onto other members and keep the burden equitably distributed.

As an admissions and enrollment pro, you know projects can easily veer off the rails thanks to scope creep, team member burnout, miscommunication, unclear expectations, and office politics. But, by adopting the RACI method and building a RACI chart (like this one!) for each new initiative, you can mitigate those challenges and drive more successful outcomes.