When you onboard new customers, how does that process go? Is it smooth and streamlined? Can you accurately predict the date of full implementation (aka “go live”) or tell your client exactly when to expect your product to be completely integrated into their workflow? Or is the client onboarding process unpredictable and inefficient?
If you frequently experience delays, missed deadlines, and shifting progress markers, it’s time to make some changes. Very few customers have the patience to stay with a provider that offers a poor onboarding experience. So if you want to prevent churn and increase your retention rates, optimize your onboarding process.
How? Look for consistent sources of trouble. Chances are that many of your onboarding challenges stem from suboptimal teamwork and miscommunication. Productivity will suffer if everyone involved in onboarding (in your company and your customer’s organization) is confused about their role, responsibilities, and expectations.
However, if every person clearly understands their responsibilities and how their tasks fit into the onboarding process, they can work more efficiently and effectively. A RACI Chart is an excellent tool for defining those responsibilities and ensuring that everyone understands their role in the implementation process.
What Is a RACI Chart?
Essentially, a RACI Chart is a tool that presents assignments and responsibilities in a visual format. The name is an acronym for different types of involvement in a task: Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, and Informed.
Each of the letters designates a specific level of responsibility:
- Responsible: The person responsible for a task is the one who does the work necessary to complete that task. Of all the RACI designators, the Responsible marker indicates the highest level of obligation. Every task on the RACI Chart must have at least one Responsible person assigned to it.
- Accountable: After the Responsible team member(s) completes the task, someone must sign off. The “Accountable” designator indicates this. To avoid confusion, there should only be one Accountable person for any given task. In small teams, an individual may perform both Responsible and Accountable roles.
- Consulted: A Consulted individual is someone who provides input before the work starts. For example, a Subject Matter Expert may serve in a Consulted capacity on many tasks. Team leaders and project managers may also fill in the Consulted role for many milestones in a RACI chart. Depending on the complexity of the task, you may assign more than one person to the Consulted role.
- Informed: The Informed designator indicates the farthest level of removal within a project. The person with this role simply needs to be regularly updated on the status of a task or project, but they aren’t directly involved in the details or responsible for completing tasks or signing off on deliverables.
Placing each of these letter designators in a chart (or matrix) format clearly indicates each team member’s obligation to various onboarding tasks.
For example, a RACI Chart can define which members of your implementation team are responsible for completing a task vs. simply staying informed of that task’s progress. This precise delineation of responsibilities clarifies expectations, eliminates duplicated effort, and reduces the risk of forgotten or delayed tasks.
A Step-by-Step Guide to Creating a RACI Chart
If you want to build a customized RACI chart for your client onboarding process, follow these steps.
Step 1: Identify participants
Before you can start assigning RACI designators to the people involved in your onboarding process, you must decide who those individuals are. Make a detailed list of team members who will be part of the implementation process: project managers, onboarding team members, and customer service representatives.
Depending on your organization’s structure, you may also want to involve people from other teams or departments.
For example, onboarding may require input from the sales team (for tasks related to the sales handoff), the training team (to provide educational materials to the customer), and/or the IT or development team (to help with troubleshooting during the onboarding process).
Ensure you include everyone legitimately involved with onboarding, but don’t bring additional people who are tangential to the process.
Step 2: Clarify tasks and milestones
Now it’s time to list all the tasks you want to put on the RACI Chart. You can include individual tasks and/or larger milestones depending on how you set up the matrix. Choose a task list that makes the most sense for your organizational structure and your onboarding process.
You want to clarify each person’s responsibilities and allow them to see how they fit into the project overall, but you don’t want the chart to be so granular that it makes the entire process overly complicated.
Step 3: Create the RACI Chart
Next, create your Chart (matrix). The easiest way to do this is to use a spreadsheet program such as Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets. A more informal method would be to draw the matrix on a whiteboard, which might work well for smaller teams.
Set up your chart so that tasks/milestones are listed vertically (i.e., there’s a row for each one). Then, list your team members horizontally across the top (i.e., each team member has a dedicated column). You’re ready to fill out each cell as soon as you have this framework.
Step 4: Assign responsibilities and fill in the RACI Chart
Finally, fill in the chart with the RACI letters. Make sure to assign R, A, C, and I roles in ways that make the most sense based on your team’s overall structure and each member’s unique skill set.
Remember, every task on the Chart must have at least one person assigned to an “R” role. In other words, something is missing if there isn’t an R somewhere in every row of the matrix.
Similarly, each task should only have one person assigned as Accountable. If there are any rows with more than one “A” designation, you need to clarify which single person is the Accountable party and remove the “A” from any other cells in the row.
You don’t necessarily need to fill every single cell in the matrix. For example, as long as a task has an “R” and an “A,” it might not be necessary to assign other individuals “C” or “I” roles. Routine milestones may not require a Consulted individual, and certain tasks may not require multiple people to be formally Informed.
Do whatever works best for your team and your project management style.
Here’s a simplified example of a RACI chart for client onboarding:
|Onboarding Team Member A
|Schedule Kickoff meeting
|Add customer contacts to onboarding platform
|Deliver training materials
Best Practices and Mistakes to Avoid
Follow these tips to ensure your RACI Chart works well and avoids introducing any confusion or inefficiencies.
- Include participants’ names along with their titles to promote a feeling of ownership and personal responsibility.
- After filling out the RACI Chart, check to ensure work is evenly distributed. If someone has too many or too few responsibilities, make changes to balance the workload.
- Use the “C” designator sparingly. Adding too many Consulted parties can be confusing and slow down the process.
- If you choose to share the RACI Chart with external stakeholders (e.g., your customer’s onboarding team manager), use a “view-only” format to prevent them from altering the matrix.
- Don’t make the chart too complicated. A RACI Chart isn’t the place for hundreds of individual onboarding tasks; it’s more useful as a big-picture tool for large milestones. However, if your onboarding process is fairly simple, with only a few tasks, it’s fine to put all of them on the matrix.
- It’s generally best to separate the “R” and “A” for a given task. However, in very small teams, it may make sense to give one person both duties (see the sample RACI Chart above).
- Give the Chart the proper level of authority: it’s a detailed roadmap, but it’s not unchangeable. For example, it’s OK for a team member to defer to others if necessary, but that shouldn’t happen often. If it does, revisiting the RACI Chart and re-evaluating how roles and responsibilities are assigned is important.
Before finalizing your RACI Chart, take a look at the overall picture. Start by making sure each row (task/milestone) has a single “A” and at least one “R.”
If you come across a row without an “R” and an “A” designator, stop and assign Responsible and Accountable roles before going further. Likewise, if there’s a column (team member) with no “R” or “A” designators, ask whether that person really needs to be involved in the onboarding process.
Next, look horizontally and vertically to see whether there are too many instances of any letter.
For example, if a row has multiple “R” designators, ask whether that task really requires so many responsible parties. If any row has multiple cells with “C,” verify whether it’s necessary to consult all those people. Having too many Consulted parties can be inefficient and lead to confusion, especially if they contradict each other.
Streamline Your Customer Onboarding Process With GUIDEcx
The onboarding process can be complex and often involves numerous internal and external stakeholders. Cooperation is key; your onboarding staff must coordinate with individuals from your customer’s implementation team to ensure a positive experience for everyone.
Furthermore, verifying that everyone understands their responsibilities and how they fit into the overall project design is crucial. A RACI Chart can help clarify roles and responsibilities to reduce confusion, increase productivity, and ensure that each onboarding project wraps up on time.
Having the right platform can also significantly impact your onboarding process. Extremely complicated project management solutions can be confusing, but overly simple tools can be inefficient.
GUIDEcx is a dedicated onboarding platform designed specifically to handle the unique aspects of an onboarding project. Integrated communications, task management tools, and strategic automation solve onboarding challenges to give everyone a positive experience. Book a demo today to learn more about how GUIDEcx can support better onboarding in your organization!
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Discover how GUIDEcx can help you improve efficiency by reducing your customer onboarding timeline and increasing the capacity of your project managers. Our unparalleled professional resources and unwavering commitment to excellence support our industry-leading customer onboarding solution.