There are often lots of people involved in producing and delivering content. They have different agendas, personal goals and conflicting priorities. They also have different roles, responsibilities and tasks when it comes to content, so organising and managing your content operations (ContentOps) team can be challenging. This is all without issues and challenges around the other pillars of ContentOps, process and technology.
Having a clear workflow in place will help with organising people and providing an appropriate flow from one stage to another. But what about the roles and responsibilities at each stage? RACI Charts are a way to make life easier by providing clarity around who needs to do what.Without a clear understanding of who is doing what, there can be two risks:
In her book The Content Strategy Toolkit, Meghan Casey says:
You need a certain base set of content roles and responsibilities to create content that helps you achieve your content strategy. Keep in mind that roles do not necessarily equal job titles. Instead, they refer to a set of responsibilities that you must account for in your content creation process.
There are lots of content strategy templates at our disposal that we can adapt to suit individual needs. In this article we will outline what a RACI chart is, give an example of a completed RACI Chart and also provide a free template for you to get to grips with the roles and responsibilities for organising your own content team.
The Digital Project Manager define a RACI Chart as ‘a tool that identifies roles and responsibilities against tasks within a project.’ It’s about mapping these tasks and responsibilities to the different roles. It’s important to be specific whenever assigning tasks to people. For example, if you ask someone to review content are they reviewing for accuracy, spelling, grammar, brand style, etc.RACI stands for:
If someone is responsible they are to complete the task. They may be responsible for more than one task, and that’s ok so long as they aren’t overloaded. Those accountable may not be doing the actual task but they are ultimately accountable for completing it. If a person or team are consulted then they are helping with getting the task done, in collaboration with those responsible. Those informed need to be aware of progress after completion of a task.Here’s an example RACI chart we’ve created:
Access this template and make a copy to start organising your team.
When it comes to creating a RACI chart for a content team it is worth considering that there may be other disciplines involved such as UX, subject matter experts, design, development, etc. This is another benefit to RACI’s as they help connect silos across an agreed workflow with clear roles and responsibilities.The RACI will depend on the complexity of the project but whether a simple version on a pilot project or a more complex version for a large strategic content initiative, they help teams:
A RACI allows the content leader to understand what is being asked of each person in the team. This is necessary to avoid overloading any one person, causing bottlenecks and involving people unnecessarily. People may want to have involvement when they don’t have a clear role and responsibility. Don't include them just to keep the peace. Yes, there will be difficult conversations to navigate but the RACI is a good reference to come back to if issues arise and it helps to set expectations too.
Here’s a step by step guide to creating a RACI chart for your next project.
Start by identifying all roles across the project. Examples are content strategist, content designer, writer, subject matter expert, designer, project manager, etc. Some prefer to identify people rather than roles and list their names instead. It depends what makes most sense for your situation. Roles can be confusing when more than one person is fulfilling that role so it really will depend on your team.Using our template as an example, here are some roles involved in an overhaul of an organisation’s online help centre content:
In this example there are roles across different teams:
For projects that involve lots of people from different departments, or perhaps for remote teams who don’t work in the same space, a RACI chart can help to organise and give oversight of how all of these roles connect across the project. This understanding and visibility can connect silos and allow for ContentOps to be efficient.A RACI only provides a certain perspective. Before this project starts, the Product Director may have been involved, and if they need to be informed throughout, they should be added. But this chart is from kick-off to delivery and so any planning roles and tasks scoping out the project don’t need to be included. You’ll find what level of detail works best for your team and organisation.
Once you’ve added the roles, you need to decide what the tasks and deliverables are. List everything to be done. For content teams and projects you may include:
Of course, the list could go on and on and whilst you need to include everything that’s relevant, too long a list makes the RACI more complicated to use and refer to. Give great consideration to adding tasks here. Perhaps you will use a RACI for a certain phase of a project rather than the entire lifecycle. Here’s what the chart might look like for our help centre overhaul project:
There would be more tasks than this for such a project, but they give a good idea of what the deliverables might include, across all those involved. Again, how prescriptive you go will depend on what works for your situation.
At this stage you know what roles to involve and what tasks to complete. Next you need to assign the RACI to each task and role. This is where you might discuss differing opinions. The RACI should help you reach a consensus quickly.In our help centre example, the RACI may now look like this:
Here you can see that the Head of Customer Success is accountable for a couple of tasks and informed by most. You may need to consult them, though likely they are working closely with the customer success manager.The Head of Content is accountable for most of the tasks, ensuring the creation, editing, approval, and delivery of content. Though they're not doing the writing and editing themselves. In our example, only one role is accountable for each task.There are more than one role responsible and consulted for many tasks though. In these situations, it still needs to be clear who is doing what exactly. It could also be that the writer and editor is the same person too. However your own RACI would end up looking, what you can see from the example is that this method of organising a content team around roles and tasks will help identify and assign the different criteria and start to see where decision making lies, how to facilitate collaboration and generally working towards the people involved in your ContentOps having complete understanding and clarity on what they need to do.
People and process are two of the three pillars of ContentOps (technology is the third). Investing in one is never time wasted but when you combine methods for organising people like using a RACI chart, with a workflow, there will be a clear plan for all the stages content will need to pass through, who you need at each stage and what they need to do.This organisation of people and assignment of roles to tasks ensures organisations and teams can:
All of these outcomes allow for more efficient ContentOps, and the impact that has on the actual content delivered can only be a good thing.
Access our RACI Chart template and make a copy to start organising your content team.
Rob is Head of Content at GatherContent. He is a journalism graduate and has previously worked as Studio Manager and Head of Content for a design agency and as an Audience Research Executive for the BBC. He’s a published author and regular contributor to industry publications including Net Magazine, Smashing Magazine, 24 Ways,WebTuts+, UX Matters , UX Booth and Content Marketing Institute. On occasion Rob speaks about content strategy and ContentOps at leading industry events.