A detailed guide to RACI vs RAPID: Differences and FAQs
Updated 1 September 2023
Leaders of various types can employ decision-making frameworks to help them be more effective. The RAPID and RACI frameworks are two examples of this. If you're in a leadership position, knowing about frameworks like these may help you make more effective decisions. In this article, we explain what RACI vs RAPID means, describe the key differences between them and answer some frequently asked questions.
Please note that none of the companies, institutions or organisations mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.
RACI vs RAPID
Learning about RACI vs RAPID can help you make decisions in a structured manner based on the system that works best for you. You may even find that different situations favour one approach over the other. Both RAPID and RACI are acronyms. RACI stands for responsible, accountable, consulting and informing. RAPID stands for recommend, agree, perform, input and decide. Both of these approaches help decision-makers identify key deliverables and roles when completing a project or process within a business. Another name for RACI is responsibility matrix.
How does RACI work?
Here's an explanation of the components of RACI and how they apply in practise:
The first letter in RACI is responsible, which means the person who's going to carry out the task in question. They're not accountable for it as they're not the decision-maker. For example, in the context of a restaurant the responsible individual might be a junior chef or a member of the waiting staff.
The key decision-maker in RACI is accountable for the task. This is the person who's in charge of making the decision and they're also the individual who's accountable for its outcomes. When higher authorities or stakeholders question an outcome, they go to the accountable person. To use the restaurant example again, the accountable individual might be the head chef or head waiter. They might not perform all of the tasks, but they take the decisions and are accountable for any successes or failures.
In the RACI framework, there's just one accountable person for every task. This helps avoid decision-making conflicts. For instance, the head chef cannot be accountable for poor front-of-house service and the head waiter cannot be accountable for poorly-prepared food, as each is accountable for a different task.
A consulted individual is someone who has the useful or necessary knowledge of reaching goals and objectives. They might work as advisors, consultants or researchers. For instance, a restaurant might have a social media manager. This individual connects with past and potential customers on social media to get inputs on what they expect and what they enjoyed. They might also produce customer feedback cards and collect the information. Using these inputs, they can relay information to accountable individuals to improve services.
An informed individual is someone who receives information and updates on progress and key activities. The information is often one-way, whereby they receive it but don't send any information to others. Unlike a consulted individual, they don't necessarily provide advice or input. In a restaurant, this might be the accountant, as they collect information from others to provide accounts and don't directly interfere in the daily work of the restaurant.
How does RAPID work?
Here's an explanation of the components of RAPID and how they apply in practise:
At the first stage of the process, an individual or group makes recommendations. This is the key information that informs the work that follows. They also recommend the decisions that guide the work. The decision-making process starts with them, but they don't simply dictate them to others without consultation or agreement. Returning to the restaurant example, this might be the restaurant manager recommending menu items to the kitchen staff.
Once there's a recommended decision, it's then necessary for others to agree with it. These two roles work closely with each other and may make revisions to the initial decision until it's agreeable to both. Once both are in agreement, it results in a final decision that can undergo implementation. In many cases, the second group who agree has some veto power over those who recommend. The second group is typically small in number to limit possible disagreements.
In a restaurant, this might be the head chef, as they know what their kitchen is capable of producing and may alter decisions from the restaurant manager. It might also describe the station chefs who are in charge of particular item types and who are responsible for them.
The individuals who perform are those who complete the work based on the decisions the previous two groups made. They have limited decision-making ability and cannot veto or otherwise contradict those decisions. Individuals who perform receive instructions and decisions and then implement them. In a restaurant, these may be the junior chefs or station chefs. They could also be wait staff.
Like the consulted role in RACI, this person provides information and insights. Their role supports others and can help them perform better or make decisions. Those who recommend at the start of the process may find the inputs from these individuals useful for initial decisions. An input person might be a business analyst who provides insights into key priorities. In a restaurant, once again this could be a social media manager who gathers feedback from customers.
While the first two agree on decisions mutually, they only do so in the initial stages. Throughout the entire process, another individual makes decisions and is responsible for them. Unlike the first two groups, this is just one person. In a restaurant, this may be the restaurant manager as they make decisions for multiple aspects of the establishment.
Here are some of the key differences between RAPID and RACI:
The RACI framework is more rigid in terms of allocating responsibility for decisions. RAPID offers more opportunities for collaboration such as in horizontally-structured organisations. This is because RAPID involves decisions at multiple points, whereas RACI has only one.
Each approach has a different focus regarding the structure of decisions. RACI focuses on allocating responsibilities and tasks. Conversely, RAPID is closer to a process and focuses on multiple inputs regarding the decision-making process.
Ease of implementation
RACI is a simpler structure given that a single individual is responsible for making decisions. The more decentralised decision-making process of RAPID can therefore make it harder to implement. If implemented sub-optimally, RAPID may result in shortcuts or work gaps.
Frequently asked questions
Here are some frequently asked questions about RAPID and RACI, together with their respective answers:
Can roles overlap?
Yes. In both RAPID and RACI, an individual might occupy more than one role. For instance, in RAPID the performers might also be part of the two initial decision-making groups. An example of this is a head chef or station chef, as they can both make decisions and then carry out the work. In RACI, these same individuals might be both responsible and accountable for the same reasons.
Which is the right choice?
This depends on the nature of the work and the organisational structure. For instance, a RAPID approach might be more compatible with organisations that use agile practices due to the less hierarchical nature of its structure. In project management, RACI might be more useful since the project manager easily falls under the accountable category.
Is RAPID a trademark?
Yes. RAPID is a trademark of Bain & Company Inc., which is a business management and consulting services corporation that works with IT, financial services, logistics and various other sectors. Consider the implications of this if you decide to use RAPID in any formal manner.
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