Although people with experience in a particular subject matter are a
key resource for expert interviews, they are not always readily available
for such interviews; and, in many instances, they prefer not to make
the time to participate in the data-gathering process. e Delphi tech-
nique works to address that situation by aording an alternate means
of educing information from experts in a manner that neither pres-
sures them nor forces them to leave the comfort of their own environs.
e Delphi technique has the advantage of drawing information
directly from experts without impinging on their busy schedules. It
also allows for directed follow-up from experts after their peers have
been consulted. In the process, it also eliminates much of the poten-
tial for expert bias driven by the participation of multiple experts.
e Delphi technique derives its name from the oracle at Delphi. In
Greek mythology, the oracle (of the god Apollo) foretold the future
through a priestess who, after being posed a question, channeled all
knowledge from the gods, which an interpreter then cataloged and
translated. In the modern world, the project manager or facilitator
takes on the role of the interpreter, translating the insights of experts
into common terms and allowing for his or her review and reassess-
ment. e cycle of question, response, and reiteration is repeated sev-
eral times to ensure that the highest quality of information possible is
extracted from the experts.
is technique is recommended when the project’s experts cannot
coordinate their schedules or when geographic distance separates
them. e Delphi technique is also appropriate when bringing experts
together to a common venue may generate excess friction.
Inputs and Outputs
e inputs for the Delphi technique are questions or questionnaires.
e questionnaire addresses the risk area(s) of concern, allowing for
progressive renement of the answers provided until general consen-
sus is achieved. e questionnaire should allow for sucient focus on
areas of concern without directing the experts to specic responses.
Outputs from the process are progressively detailed because all
iterations should draw the experts involved closer to consensus. e
initial responses to the questionnaire will generally reect the most
intense biases of the experts. rough the iterations, the facilitator
will attempt to dene a common ground within their responses, ren-
ing the responses until consensus is achieved.
Major Steps in Applying the Technique
e technique heavily relies on the facilitator’s ability both to gener-
ate the original questions to submit to the experts and to distill the
information from the experts as it is received. e process is simple
but is potentially time consuming.
Identify experts and ensure their participation. e experts need not
be individuals who have already done the work or dealt with
the risks under consideration; but, they should be individuals
who are attuned to the organization, the customer, and their
mutual concerns. Experts can be dened as anyone who has an
informed stake in the project and its processes. Commitments
for participation should come from the experts, their direct
superiors, or both.
Create the Delphi instrument. Questions asked under the Delphi
technique must not only be suciently specic to elicit infor-
mation of value but also suciently general to allow for cre-
ative interpretation. Since risk management is inherently an
inexact science, attempts to generate excessive precision may
lead to false assumptions. e Delphi questions should avoid
cultural and organizational bias and should not be directive