Delphi Technique in Project Management

Delphi Technique, or Delphi method, was developed by the RAND Corporation as a process for group decision-making. It emerged in the 1950s and 1960s, as a result of studies about group performance and decision-making. Various organizations have used the technique to make decisions about issues such as development, design, marketing, and finances.

It was originally used to forecast the future of technology, but it has since been adapted for use in other fields. It gets its name from the Greek myth of the Oracle of Delphi. The Oracle was a priestess who gave prophecies that were then used as decision-making tools. 

Delphi Technique relies on expert opinion to make decisions. Participants take part in a questionnaire or poll that is created by a group moderator and then they answer anonymously and confidentially. Responses are compiled and analyzed before the next round of questioning takes place, so each participant receives feedback about their contribution and can adjust it as necessary.  It is a simple technique, but can be effective if implemented properly and with the relevant participants.

Each participant submits written comments on specific topics prior to new questions being posed, and these comments are then distributed among all participants. As a result, the final consensus includes information from all participants, allowing the participants to come to an agreement faster than they would without feedback and discussion.

Delphi Technique is likely to be used in planning performance domain in project management.

Step One - Define Your Objective

You should begin by defining your objective. What is it that you hope to achieve with this technique? If you must make a decision, be as specific as possible. What is your purpose for using the Delphi Technique, for example? Why is everyone's opinion important? Before proceeding, you should be able to answer these questions.

Step Two - Identify Resources

To complete the Delphi Technique, you will need a facilitator and a team of experts. The facilitator's job is to ensure that all opinions are heard, while making sure that the process stays on track. If experts are needed, their knowledge of the subject matter should be considered. A place for the meeting will also be needed, as well as materials, such as pens and paper. 

Step Three - Create Questionnaires

Identify a question or issue to investigate using the Delphi technique. State an open-ended question or a problem to be resolved.  Ask questions that can either be answered affirmatively or negatively. 

Send out an initial questionnaire with five to ten questions. Decide how many times the group will meet before producing a final product (usually three). It is up to you how to approach this step, but some methods include brainstorming with your expert panel, constructing the questions from current news stories, or writing them yourself. 

Once you have created the list of questions and decided on how many rounds will be required, send an email out to each expert asking them to respond individually by a specific date. Tell them they should provide their own individual opinion without any comments from other members of the group until after they have submitted their responses. Use non-leading language when collecting data from respondents, so people feel free to provide what they really think without feeling pressured into saying something different than what they really believe.

Step Four - Survey Responses and Analysis

It is now time to analyze the responses from your experts. This can be done in a variety of ways, but a common way would be to use a weighted average. You will need to assign a weight to each response based on its importance and then determine the average of the responses taking into account the weights. 

Step Five - Report Out Recommendations

Following the final round of voting, the facilitator will compile all of the results and present the group's recommendations. This is typically presented in a presentation format followed by a discussion of the results. Group members may decide to revise their recommendations based on the discussion. 

See also: 

Decision Tree Analysis

Multicriteria Decision Making