Projects can get unwieldy, fast, especially when they involve multiple stakeholders, more than one team, or long timelines.

And heaven help you if the involve all three!

One of the ways to combat the confusion is to apply a decision-making and responsibility framework to make everyone’s roles clear.

Two of the most popular frameworks are DACI and RACI.

Here’s a bit more about each.

The DACI framework

This project-management framework is designed to clearly define roles on a project. Here are the four roles and what DACI stands for:

  • D = Driver
  • A = Approver
  • C = Contributor
  • I = Informed

The Driver is the person responsible for making the project happen. They may have various levels of involvement in the execution of the project. Their primary job is to lead the project from beginning to end.

The Driver’s responsibilities may include:

  • Scheduling kickoff meetings and recurring standups / check-ins
  • Collecting advice from those inside and outside the project
  • Creating the project plan and scope
  • Communicating project updates regularly

The Approver is the person who makes decisions about the project. They have veto power. The approver is typically a department head or founder / CEO.

Contributors — also sometimes called “Consulted” — are subject area experts whom the Driver should include in her or his advice process. Contributors have a voice, but no vote.

And informed teammates are told of the project status or final decision. They don’t have the authority to change any outcomes.

The RACI framework

By Kokcharov – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link

Similar to DACI, the RACI framework is popular in project management and strategic decision-making, especially at higher levels of company strategy and major projects. Here are the four roles of RACI and what the acronym stands for:

  • R = Responsible
  • A = Accountable
  • C = Consulted
  • I = Informed

As you can see, there’s a lot of overlap between the DACI and RACI frameworks. Among the chief differences is, obviously, the first letter: Responsible vs. Driver.

In the RACI framework, the Responsible teammate (or teammates) is the one who does the work to complete the task. They can delegate the work, if needed. There’s a version of RACI called RASCI, which includes an “S” for those in Supporting roles.

Another difference between RACI and DACI is with the “A” role: Accountable vs. Approver. In RACI, the Accountable teammate is the one who must answer for the proper completion of the project or the correct decision. In most cases, this level of accountability makes this person also the approver, since they are the ones who must answer for the outcome.

There are a lot of neat articles about these frameworks. For instance, here’s how the Fictiv team uses DACI in Asana:

  1. Each task in Asana (our task management system) is assigned to a Driver.
  2. Approvers and Contributors are clearly listed in the description of the task.
  3. Informed persons are added as “followers” to the task so they’re notified of project updates and progress.

We aren’t to the point of formalizing these processes so deeply on our Buffer team, but the ideas are interesting!

Do you use these frameworks at your company? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Posted by:Kevan Lee

VP of marketing currently living in Boise, Idaho. I work with the lovely folks at Buffer. You can join my email list to get an inside look at marketing and branding and team-building in tech.

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