The Delphi technique

Named after the Oracle of Delphi, which the Greeks consulted before all major undertakings, this technique seeks to develop a consensus about an estimate through meetings, questionnaires and surveys. It was developed by the Rand Corporation in the late 1940s to forecast the impact of technology on warfare. Experts submitted their views on the likelihood, frequency and impact of potential attacks by the enemy. Other experts provided anonymous feedback and the process was repeated until a common view emerged.

Many projects have a considerable specialist aspect to them and project managers cannot be expected to be expert in every one. They can use the Delphi technique, carefully adapted, to obtain estimates in which they can have some faith.

Having used the experts to assist in creating product descriptions, the project manager asks them to state how much effort or budget would be needed to deliver these products. When the replies are received, feedback is obtained, usually anonymously. The experts are then encouraged to revise their earlier estimates in the light of these other views. During this process the range of the estimates should shrink as the experts home in on a figure they can all agree to. If complete agreement is impossible, average scores can be used to obtain what will still be a more reliable estimate than might otherwise have been produced.

This process takes time and should be reserved for areas in which the project manager has little expertise or where the range of initial estimates provided by experts is wide.

Project Management Made Easy

Project Management Made Easy

What you need to know about… Project Management Made Easy! Project management consists of more than just a large building project and can encompass small projects as well. No matter what the size of your project, you need to have some sort of project management. How you manage your project has everything to do with its outcome.

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