Delphi Technique and Its Role in Project Management

Delphi Technique in Project Management 

There are a lot of factors that determine whether a given project is successful or not. Some of the key factors in project management are quick decision-making, well-thought-out planning, and most importantly a shared common understanding amongst the members involved.

Quick decisions can be made by decisive individuals. Proper planning can be done with experienced professionals. But arriving at a common consensus is rather hard. For a project’s succeed, all project stakeholders must share the same vision of the project and agree on how it should be achieved.

This is where it is worth looking at the Delphi method. This Delphi model presents us with an opportunity to achieve consensus within the project team. The Delphi process was pioneered in the 1960s to combat the changing technological work environments. With a change like work and forecasting of projects, it became a necessity to work out planning techniques for digital projects, thus the Delphi technique was born.

The Delphi model is a system that offers a way to arrive at decisions about complex issues within the project. The Delphi estimation helps us arrive at these decisions based on the opinions of individual project members.

In the Delphi method ideas from the entire team are considered to arrive at decision. Individual project stakeholders write down their views and share them with a common moderator when performing a Delphi analysis. The Delphi process mandates that each of these members’ opinions be compiled into a report by the moderator.

The individual stakeholders review this information and update their ideas to continue the Delphi approach. This Delphi process continues till all the project stakeholders reach a common consensus.

The Delphi Technique helps to arrive at a common solution for a described problem. For instance, the project manager here is quantifying risk for her project and requires expert advice. To come to a well-thought decision, he/she can use the Delphi Technique. This is because the Delphi estimation helps get everyone on board with the decisions.

Delphi model involves a round of questionnaire followed by individual interpretations that eventually leads to a conclusion. The Delphi analysis is repeated a few times till a consensus is achieved. This Delphi model is widely used in the field of project management.

Delphi Technique Explanation Using Scenarios

1) When there are several experts and their advice, despite being helpful, varies from that of one another to a great extent.

2) When experts are put up at different geographical locations and cannot come to a common place for discussion or finding a common solution.

The Delphi technique is used to attain expert advice on various technical issues, project-related issues, risk assessment, management issues, scope-related queries, etc. by the means of group decision-making.

In the first scenario, using the Delphi technique, one can come to a common solution. The process includes collecting Delphi from each of the experts, evaluating the advice to find commonness in them, and eliminating the ones that don’t match with the advice from all.

For example, if there are 10 insights, we pick the three top-most insights that seem to be common in the case of all the experts. Then, these 3 insights are further sent as an inquiry, and experts are asked for advice.

Based on their choices, the insights are further evaluated and zeroed down to one single solution using the Delphi technique.

In the second case, typically, conducting a poll anonymously and gathering information is done. This is to get the best advice without the involvement of external factors or feelings of fear, judgment or ego, etc.

It ensures that the common consensus is attained with equal involvement of advice from all the experts from various parts of the world. This is a key benefit of the Delphi technique.

The Delphi technique is often referred to as the “Wide-Band Delphi Technique”. To estimate future results and outcomes, and to make estimates in various areas of business, this technique is preferred.

Delphi process is commonly used in creating work breakdown structures and managing project flow.

For instance, cost estimation can be made for a project using the Delphi technique. However, to conclude or solve a problem, a well-defined and informative question has to be framed.

The procedure becomes simple the question is properly structured. 

The Delphi method is also used for identifying risks and mitigating them.

Delphi Methodology has proven to be one of the most efficient ways of decision-making. To get advice/input from a group of experts, it is essential to have clarity about the issue that is to be discussed. Only then the experts will be able to give thorough guidance on how to proceed and process the issue. The Delphi approach is used by experts to conclude group discussions.

Guide To Delphi Method Steps

The Delphi estimation procedure goes like this, A common mediator or coordinator is assigned the work of collecting information. Someone who is well acquainted with the concepts of the issue being dealt with is preferred.

The question/issue is circulated to the experts and their inputs are requested whilst maintaining anonymity. This avoids any feelings of an outcast, inferiority, or superiority.

The evaluations are collected. After eliminating the odd ones and picking the common inputs, the same are circulated for the second round of evaluation. The experts give their opinions on them and this procedure is repeated until a consensus is reached. 

Despite having thousands of tools available online, having expert advice beats every other means of making decisions. Hence, delta techniques are considered to be one of the most trusted and reliable approaches to decision-making.

Delphi Analysis enables individuals to understand the perspectives of their group mates professionally and effectively. A good comradery can build in the team as a result of adopting the Delphi model.

About the Modified Delphi Method - The Modified Delphi method is a systematic strategy used by a group of professionals like team members, stakeholders, and others to assess situations and make valuable decisions. This decision arrived using Delphi estimation has the support of the entire team ensuring smooth workflow when executing it.

Let's take a look at the steps involved in Delphi Method.

Delphi Technique Steps

Step 1 - Choose a member to lead the discussion to initiate the Delphi process

Step 2 - Decide the panel of experts

Step 3 - State the problem or issue of discussion that requires the Delphi analysis

Step 4 - Start the first round of questionnaires or survey

Step 5 - Summarize the first round and collect common viewpoints

Step 6 - Initiate the second round of questionnaires or survey to continue Delphi estimation

Step 7 - Summarize the second round and collect common viewpoints

Step 8 - Initiate and summarize the third round

Step 9 - Continue to conduct rounds of questionnaires based on the requirement

Step 9 - Draw a conclusion based on the findings from all the rounds of the Delphi process

Advantages of adopting the Delphi method in Project Management

For efficient project management, it is a necessity that all the different stakeholders are in consensus about the vision and their roles. The Delphi method offers a good chance of getting everyone’s consensus leading to a more efficient project management process. The Delphi process has already been explained above and if followed correctly can help fine-tune a project. This is the reason the Delphi approach is adopted by a large number of professionals in project management. Below listed are some of the key benefits of the Delphi method.

• Delphi process helps achieve quick consensus

The Delphi method offers us a chance to reach a quick consensus among the project stakeholders. Often a project meeting can drag into multiple directions without focus. The Delphi approach helps you assemble all the team members in a guided manner to achieve efficient Delphi estimation. The Delphi method helps you arrive at a consensus quickly depending on the issues that need to be addressed in the given project with the help of the Delphi analysis. The achieved Delphi estimation can act as a guide for the rest of the project. Anytime there is a change in team personnel or any of the members lose track of the project goals, they can refer to the Delphi estimation that was arrived at. This consensus achieved by the Delphi approach helps everyone work together towards a shared vision. This is one of the most underrated aspects of a project and is a key reason why we must adopt the Delphi approach.

 • Delphi method promotes individual ideas

Without the Delphi approach, it is hard to discuss ideas freely in a group. Many people might be intimidated by others in the group and resort to herd thinking mentality. The Delphi estimation technique allows for anonymous suggestions. This anonymity in the Delphi approach affords the team members the freedom to express all their ideas. This leads to greater individual inputs arising out of the Delphi analysis. These individual ideas emerging in the Delphi approach prove highly beneficial to the project. Furthermore, team members are more inclined to work hard towards their ideas coming out of the Delphi analysis as they believe in it. This is one of the major advantages of the Delphi model.

• Cost-effective nature of the Delphi method

The Delphi model is rather easy to follow provided that one has an understanding of the Delphi approach along with capability in project management. Furthermore, the Delphi process is inexpensive and does not encroach on chunks of funds arriving at the Delphi estimation. This is because the Delphi model does not require any specialized software or tools. The Delphi analysis can be easily performed with the use of pen and paper if required. Some companies do adopt basic software to conduct the Delphi analysis digitally to increase the level of comfort and anonymity. Even such digital adoption of the Delphi model does not incur additional costs for the company. Thus, conducting the Delphi process is not an expensive affair. This is a key benefit of the Delphi model from the company’s point of view.

Drawbacks of Adopting Delphi Analysis

Although Delphi analysis has several beneficial advantages, it is not without minor drawbacks. There might be a few hardships encountered when using Delphi estimation.

The first potential disadvantage of the Delphi process is derivative from its advantage. The Delphi model offers the possibility to achieve a quick consensus. However, this is not always the case. Sometimes the Delphi approach can take a long time due to the multiple rounds of review. In such scenarios, performing the Delphi analysis can cause a delay in the whole project.

The major disadvantage of performing Delphi estimation is that it is designed to be a democracy. This is again both an advantage and a disadvantage of the Delphi technique. The Delphi process is designed to achieve an agreement and in essence the most popular decision. This need not be the right decision. While getting everyone in the agreement is a huge advantage, it comes with this downside. Just like democracy, this Delphi model can become a popularity contest if not performed sincerely by the project team members.

Conclusion

Adopting the Delphi approach seems to be one of the best ways to achieve consensus among project team members. A shared project vision coupled with agreement on the methods by project team members can be a vital factor in determining the success of a project. This can be achieved by performing the Delphi analysis. The conclusions that are drawn from the Delphi estimation help us agree across the board. However, The Delphi process cannot be adopted blindly as it requires finesse. It must be kept in mind that the Delphi model is designed to select the popular decision and not the best one. Therefore, the Delphi approach requires due diligence on part of the project team members. When done correctly, the Delphi technique can be of great benefit to a Project.

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This approach of Delphi estimation can be used to make complex discussions simple. It avoids a clash of opinions and helps experts conclude without any complications.

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Delphi Technique

Nandini

Nandini

With over 3 years of experience in creating informative, authentic, and engaging content, Nandini is a technology content writer who is skilled in writing well-researched articles, blog posts, newsletters, and other forms of content. Her works are focused on the latest updates in E-learning, professional training and certification, and other important fields in the education domain.