Top 4 RACI chart templates to try for free

All projects should start with a RACI matrix to ensure team member know their responsibilities. Here's our expert picks of the top free RACI templates.

Our Research

Our expert team of writers and researchers rates project management software against the factors small businesses care about most - value for money (for both small and growing teams); depth of features; ease of use; quality of templates and ability to customise them, plus help and support when problems need resolving.
Written and reviewed by:
Helena Young

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A RACI matrix is all about good teamworking, making them an important ingredient for successfully leading a project. They help to delegate tasks and help employees to understand what to prioritise, ensuring deadlines are met and client satisfaction is kept.

RACI charts organise project members by their relationship to a task (outlining if they are Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, or Informed). This avoids role confusion – particularly helpful for remote teams or those in large departments.

Startups’ top recommended platform for building a RACI chart is monday.com, thanks to its modern template design and a high score of 3.8 out of 5 for collaboration. And, in today's poor economy, it's also one of the most affordable options for SMEs. Here's our pick of the other top choices:

Best RACI Matrix tools to try for free

  1. monday.com (free trial)Best for businesses working with multiple stakeholders for a modern, professional-looking template
  2. Smartsheet (free trial) – Best for speedy setup time for projects that take less than a month
  3. Wrike (Free Plan)Best for businesses with 15+ employees working on cross-functional projects
  4. Miro (Free Plan)Best for project teams with less than 5 members that want flexible role responsibilities

Our team of expert analysts have spent the past 12 months reviewing the top PM systems on the market. Based on our results, we’ve built the below guide to the top four templates for using the RACI framework. We'll explain how each option works, how much it costs, and exactly what benefit it will bring to your organisation – with examples.

What is a RACI matrix?

The RACI matrix is a project management framework. It is used to manage team members by informing them of their exact roles and responsibilites when delivering a project.

Instead of a Gantt chart or flowchart, which tracks tasks chronologically, a RACI chart will carry task distribution based on the person who is responsible, making it easier for that individual to check on the status of their work.

You might now be thinking: what makes this different to an action plan? A RACI matrix does not influence the direction or outcome of a project. It is built before a project begins, when you just need to understand who does what, who oversees what, and who is the most suitable person to carry out each task.

The aim is specifically to prevent any kind of miscommunication within a team by making sure the job roles are clear and do not overlap.

What does RACI stand for?

The RACI model uses the letters R, A, C, and I to categorise team responsibilities. RACI stands for Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, Informed.

These define the relationship of every member of the project team to each task, so you can keep everyone organised and know exactly what aspect of the project you’ll be responsible for.

Responsible means you are the owner of a task and it’s your job to carry out the work and monitor its status.

Accountable usually referring to managers or higher-ups, you delegate the work and are the last one to review it and confirm its completion.

Consulted means you will be asked to provide input or advice to help other project members

Informed people should be kept in the loop about what’s going on at certain stages, rather than the whole project. Typically used to refer to stakeholders.

Best RACI chart templates

Project management software exists to supercharge your team and realise your objectives. Below, we’ve gathered top RACI templates for SMEs from brands including monday.com, and Smartsheet.

As an extra perk, all of the below options are available to try out completely free of charge, whether free forever or as part of a trial.

1. monday.com RACI template (free trial)

Best for businesses working with multiple stakeholders for a modern, professional-looking template

monday.com RACI template

Probably one of the best-known traits of monday.com is its huge library of over 200 attractive templates. All of which are colour-coded with a catalogued, traffic light system so you can get an instant update on the status of a project.

Small business users working with clients or shareholders can be safe in the knowledge that monday.com designs the best, most professional-looking RACI template for external eyes.

Users can also comment on specific tasks to log issues and attach shared files, making collaboration painless both internally (for those who are Accountable and Responsible) and externally (for those who are Consulted and Informed).

monday does have a free plan for the RACI template. Irritatingly, however, you can only add guest users with the Standard plan (£10.50 per user). Wrike, in comparison, permits guest access for 15 users on its free plan.

Pros
  • Every feature is customisable so you can build a unique RACI chart that exactly reflects your project
  • ‘Whiteboard’ elements allows you to brainstorm ideas with stakeholders before coming to a decision
  • Easy to colour-code for understanding responsibilities at a glance
Cons
  • Guest access is only available with the monday Standard plan (£10.50 per user, per month) and up

2. Smartsheet RACI template (free trial)

Best for speedy setup time for projects that take less than a month

Smartsheet RACI template

RACI charts, while important, are a preliminary step and therefore shouldn’t take you weeks to design. That’s particularly true when you’re working to a tight deadline.

We rate the Smartsheet RACI template highly (4.3 out of 5) for project creation. That’s because it’s the simplest system for designing and customising your project charts.

When you open a project ‘sheet’ in smartsheets there's a column for assigning tasks to users; perfect for creating a RACI chart in record time.

The Smartsheet Business plan also permits a ‘Resource View’ so you can see the workload of each of your project members and evaluate how many deliverables they have to manage.

Accessing this view requires some menu diving. However, it’s a genuinely helpful feature that makes allocating responsibilities easier. You can see who might get overwhelmed during the course of a project and adjust accordingly.

Smartsheet also, unlike monday.com, provides an internal messaging board so you can communicate directly with team members.

Pros
  • Lowest priced-plan is just £6 per user, per month
  • Calendar view allows you to translate your RACI into a timeline
  • 20GB of storage on lowest paid-for tier so you can stockpile hundreds of documents
Cons
  • Live chat and phone support only available with premium plans
  • Lowest paid plan is restricted to 10 guest users

3. Wrike RACI template (Free Plan)

Best for businesses with 15+ employees working on cross-functional projects

Wrike RACI template

We recommend the Wrike RACI template for any project that needs completing in phases with multiple departments involved. That’s because its team communication tools came out on top in our latest research round.

Wrike has a feature called ‘Stream’ which provides a feed of all the project updates. That means if a new person takes over responsibility for a task, you can easily update all project members in just one message – great if a task suddenly becomes a priority.

Similarly, Wrike boasts one of our favourite resource management features called a Workload Chart. This shows your team’s workload capacity and can be easily added to every user’s project view with the platform’s free plan.

Wrike is somewhat let down by its usability. Our user testing found its charts can be clunky and difficult to edit. We also only gave it 1.8 out of 5 for customer support as some features are hard to find without help – that’s a whole mark lower than our top-rated brand monday.com.

Pros
  • Guest access is available on free plan for external stakeholders to view
  • Unlimited users permitted on the Wrike free plan
  • Specialist plans for marketing teams or professional services are available
Cons
  • Columns can be difficult to customise, so it’s not ideal for displaying data to clients
  • Limited to 5 projects on the free plan

4. Miro RACI matrix (Free Plan)

Best for project teams with less than 5 members that want flexible role responsibilities

Miro RACI template

Miro is a productivity app that’s pretty unique to the market. Its blend of diagramming and flowchart software means you’re essentially presented with a virtual whiteboard where you can actually stick post-it-notes and have complete control over task distribution.

The Miro RACI template echoes this format, which makes it a good option for flexibility and roles you might want to change down the line.

Miro allows you to integrate the RACI chart with all of your future project templates so that roles can be clarified at every stage. Tag them with @mention or add a comment so they know roles have been assigned and they can give you feedback on task status.

Obviously switching up your RACI chart mid-way through a project can be confusing so we wouldn’t recommend it for larger teams or those with 30+ deliverables.

You can have up to 100 users simultaneously working on one Miro board but our testing found that teams of more than 5 will get complicated.

Pros
  • Great for brainstorming sessions and visualising ideas
  • Connects with over 100 apps for a bespoke project planning solution
  • Consultant plan is available for client work (£10 per user, per month)
Cons
  • Mind maps get messy with over 5 users - you’ll need to allocate extra time to clean up your boards
  • Limited to three boards with the free plan

RACI chart example

RACI charts are one of the most specialist project planning frameworks. To help you understand what one should look like in practice, we've come up with the below template example.

In this scenario, the marketing manager for a startup business is delivering a budget report deck for the amount of money they spent on a PR campaign. Here's how you might approach designing a RACI chart for this task:

Step 1: List all your project tasks

The first step when designing a RACI template is to think of every task that must be completed to provide all the deliverables. For example:

  • Gather financial information: (eg. invoices, receipts, and expense reports for items such as PR agency fees, advertising costs, event expenses, and any other expenditures associated with the campaign)
  • Organise your expenses: use accounting software to organise expenses into meaningful groups (e.g., advertising, PR agency fees, travel expenses) for a clear breakdown of the campaign's costs
  • Create the budget report deck: include visual aids like charts and graphs to convey the information effectively. It should also explain of the findings and any recommendations for future budget planning
  • Review and validation: consult with the CEO or other relevant stakeholders to ensure that the report aligns with the company's financial records and goals

Step 2: List all your project members

Next, you need to start task distribution. This is where you mark out how many project members you have to allocate responsibility to. Here's what that looks like for the above, hypothetical business:

  • Marketing manager
  • Finance manager
  • Data analyst
  • CEO
  • Graphic designer

Step 3: Assign the R, A, C, and I acronyms to each task

Now it's time to hand out the correct label to each participant, based on their individual responsibilites. For the above example tasks and team members, here's what that looks like:

Marketing ManagerFinance ManagerCEOGraphic DesignerData Analyst
Gather financial informationARIII
Organise your expensesACIIR
Create the budget report deckAIRC
Review and validationACR

Step 4: Share the RACI template

Finally, share out the RACI template with everyone who will be Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, or Informed. Check that each person is happy with the duties allocated to them in the matrix and that each deadline can be met.

What makes a good RACI chart?

Essential to designing a good RACI chart is the four column structure of ‘Responsible’, ‘Accountable’, ‘Consulted’ and ‘Informed’. This will make it really clear which team member falls under which label.

Speaking more generally, it’s best to design your RACI chart with clear visuals in mind. That’s because the easier your plan is to understand, the fewer misunderstandings as all project members know what is or isn't a priority.

Certain providers perform better for this criteria than others. For example, monday.com is brilliant for colour-coding and helping you see at a glance the status of each task.

Other helpful elements include progression bars or a notes column (both of which are provided by Smartsheet).

RACI chart pros and cons

Having a RACI chart is far better than not when planning a project. However, teams should be aware of some of the drawbacks that can occur if they are implemented poorly, such as the significant time investment it requires.

RACI chart pros
  • Knowing they are accountable for task delivery makes people more motivated to deliver it
  • You'll avoid 'too many cooks' syndrome, where team members are overloaded with unrelated or unnecessary tasks
  • RACI charts create a clear path for leadership to sign off on project steps, preventing planning disagreements
  • Stakeholders are kept engaged with the project, avoiding miscommunication
RACI chart cons
  • RACI charts can take a while to build, so they might be unncessary for simple projects or sprints
  • It might be difficult for team members to switch roles during the project, for example if a colleague needs support
  • Terms can overlap, especially ‘Responsible versus Accountable’ and ‘Consulted versus Informed’
  • RACI matrixes tell you who is responsible for different tasks, but it will not state what needs to be done

Why can’t I just use Excel?

Apps like Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets are often used by businesses in place of project management software. Using Excel as a money-saving method is perfectly understandable. But you will be severely limited in how well you can plan your project. Here are the main reasons we don’t recommend Microsoft Excel for RACI planning.

1. Collaboration: The ability to share your RACI matrix should be a minimum requirement from your software. It’s likely you’ll be delegated jobs by a client (those who are Consulted) or sharing results to a stakeholder (those who are Informed). It's much simpler and safer to add guests from outside your organisation to PM software.

2. Knowledge gap: Excel and Google Sheets are not intuitively designed. Analysts often need to partake in specialist training programs to understand them. Smartsheet – the provider behind our top-rated RACI template – came out on top for ease of use during our latest round of PM research, scoring 4.3 out of 5.

3. Legibility: Particularly if there are stakeholders involved (which there nearly always are in RACI planning), PM software present much cleaner datasets than Excel. Rather than sharing a clunky and confused page of cells, you can format your plan to ensure it looks professional and accessible for partners or clients to view.

RACI chart alternatives

The RACI model has been around since the 1950s, when it was known as the “Decision Rights Matrix” or “Responsibility Charting.” In the 70 years since, many variations on the concept have emerged, which could be better suited to your team's working style of objective.

Most do a similar job to the initial RACI framework. For example, the DACI framework is comprised of a driver, approver, contributor, and an informed person. They sound different, but are essentially synonyms of the RACI terms: Responsible, Accountable, Consulted and Informed.

Others are comprised of different terms in an attempt to more clearly define or refer to more specialist duties. Below, we've listed four of these alternatives to the RACI matrix that you might choose to use when allocating project roles:

1. RASCI: Essentially the same as the RACI model, however an ‘S' for Supportive is also included. Like an understudy or a substitute role, this is someone who participates by supporting the parties responsible for task delivery.

2. RACI-VS: This is for teams where there might be a stricter hierarchy in place. Here, the ‘V' stands for Verification, while the ‘S' stands for Sign-Off.

  • Verification (V) referring to someone who checks the results of the activities, its deliverables, or outcomes
  • Sign-Off (S) referring to somone who authorises the verification, such as approving a final draft

3. RACIO: The ‘O' in RACIO stands for Out of the Loop – essentially the opposite role to the Informed. This can be useful for teams where there may be GDPR concerns around sharing information.

4. RAPID: This is a specialist framework and should be used almost exclusively for stakeholders. That's because it outlines the roles and responsibilities for decision-making, not carrying out tasks, and is therefore best for top-level strategising. RAPID stands for:

  • Recommendation: this person makes recommendations regarding the decision
  • Agreement: this person will be tasked with mediating discussions
  • Perform: this stakeholder will be in charge to execute whatever strategy is decided
  • Input: this person gives data and information to facilitate the decision
  • Decide: this person ultimately calls the shots

How we test project management software for small businesses

We tested 14 project management software to evaluate them in terms of functionality, usability, customer support, features, and more so we can make the most useful recommendations to small UK-based businesses.

Our rigorous testing process means these products have been scored and rated in five main categories of investigation and nine subcategories – in fact, we covered 51 areas of investigation in total. We then gave each category score a ‘relevance weighting' to ensure the product's final score perfectly reflects the needs of our Startups.co.uk readers.

Our main testing categories for project management software are:

Customer Score: external customer opinion; the feedback and ratings given by customers who have used a particular project management provider. Also, the market position and reputation a project management tool holds.

Features: the functionalities and capabilities offered by the project management solution, such as task management and team collaboration.

Customer Support: the assistance and resources provided by the project management solution provider to users, such as phone support and email or chat support.

Usability Testing: we get people just like you to test out the products to focus on evaluating the ease of use and user experience of the project management solution.

Cost Factors: the financial considerations associated with using a project management solution, including licensing fees, subscription plans, and storage and user limit.

The Startups product testing process

The Startups product testing process diagram

How did we find the top 4 RACI templates?

Once we had arrived at the top project management providers, we analysed each provider based on how well its specialist RACI template performed during user testing.

Because most teams use a spreadsheet format for RACI templates, we looked at providers that offer a structured table format. We also examined their features to see which might be best-suited for creating a RACI chart, like the ability to assign tasks to the team member responsible for their delivery.

Overall, we found that monday.com is the best project management tool for building a RACI matrix, thanks to its colour-coded system that makes task distribution and status checking a walk in the park.

Top RACI charts for small business: verdict

The above RACI templates have all been chosen from what we consider to be the top 4 project management platforms for team collaboration.

However, each of their feature sets will complement different business needs.

  • For agency or third-sector organisations, we recommend monday.com for its gorgeous template designs that you’ll be proud to showcase to project members and external stakeholders.
  • For sprint-based projects that will take less than one month we recommend Smartsheet due to its quick setup time and excellent resource management features.
  • For businesses with 20+ employees, we recommend Wrike. Its communication tools make working with other departments (like HR or accounting) more efficient.
  • For teams with fewer than 5 members, Miro’s flexible RACI template is the best option if you want the ability to make tasks a priority further down the line.
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Written by:
Helena Young
Helena is Lead Writer at Startups. As resident people and premises expert, she's an authority on topics such as business energy, office and coworking spaces, and project management software. With a background in PR and marketing, Helena also manages the Startups 100 Index and is passionate about giving early-stage startups a platform to boost their brands. From interviewing Wetherspoon's boss Tim Martin to spotting data-led working from home trends, her insight has been featured by major trade publications including the ICAEW, and news outlets like the BBC, ITV News, Daily Express, and HuffPost UK.

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