Delphi Technique

As per PMBoK 5th edition, Delphi technique is defined as below:

“The Delphi technique is a way to reach a consensus of experts. Project risk experts participate in this technique anonymously. A facilitator uses a questionnaire to solicit ideas about the important project risks. The responses are summarized and are then recirculated to the experts for further comment. Consensus may be reached in a few rounds of this process. The Delphi technique helps reduce bias in the data and keeps any one person from having undue influence on the outcome.”

Delphi is a Group decision-making technique. It is a forecasting method based on the results of questionnaires sent to a panel of experts.

In risk identification, this is an information gathering technique in which subject matter experts identify risks in their area of expertise.

Steps to be followed :

1) Identify experts and ensure their participation.

Determine which experts can help you ascertain risks, but keep the list of names anonymous.Experts can be defined as anyone who has knowledge about the work or dealt with similar risks, may be aware of customer concerns .If possible, also get the commitment for participation of experts from their direct superiors, or both.

2) Choose a facilitator

The person coordinating the Delphi method is usually known as a facilitator, and facilitates the responses of panel of experts. Facilitator needs to be a ‘neutral’ person, who is familiar with the topic to be discussed.

3) Define the problem.

An effective facilitator clearly defines the scope of the process. Questionnaire need to be sufficiently specific to draw out information of value but also sufficiently general to allow for creative interpretation. This has to be clear, so that the expert group can provide a comprehensive definition.

4) Send request and have the experts evaluate independently.

This is usually done remotely, allowing the experts sufficient time to respond on the request. The approach (e-mail, snail mail, meetings) for gathering the experts’ opinion will largely determine the timing for the process as a whole.

5) Gather expert opinions .Review and restate the responses.

Collect all expert opinions and compile them into one list, keeping the experts’ names anonymous. The facilitator will carefully review the responses, attempting to identify common areas, issues, and concerns.

6) Repeat the process.

Circulate the collected evaluations back to the entire group to contemplate the evaluations and rationalization of their peers, and then revise their evaluation. The process is repeated as many times as the facilitator deems appropriate in order to draw out the responses necessary to move forward.

7) Distribute and apply the data.

Once sufficient cycles have been completed, the facilitator should perform a detailed analysis of the issue and send the final version of the documentation to all the experts and explain how, when, and where it will be applied. Put plans to deal with threats and opportunities on your project. This is important so that the experts can observe how their contributions will serve the project’s needs.

Strengths :

  • It involves input from technical experts and seeks to reach the “correct” response through consensus.
  • It can be done virtually. Absence of face-to-face meetings eliminates biased viewpoints and preventing any undue influence of one expert over another.
  • Anonymity allows the experts to express their opinions freely, encourages openness and avoids admitting errors by revising earlier forecasts.


  • Limited to technical risks.
  • The process may be time consuming and is dependent on the actual expertise of the experts. You may need to wait long periods of time for experts to respond.
  • It also greatly reduces immediate access to the knowledge of others.

Critical success factors (CSFs) for effective application :

  • Effective facilitation is required.
  • Careful selection of experts is needed.
  • Clear definition of scope

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Neetu Verma

Management Consultant and Corporate Trainer MBA, PMP®️, PMI-ACP®️, PMI-RMP®️, PRINCE2®️ Practitioner, SMC


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