Revisiting the removal of the Delphi technique

With the sixth edition of PMI’s body of knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) came some needed changes in terms of knowledge areas and processes as well as some surprises. One of the surprises was the loss of one of the key project management tools that I use all the time on projects and consulting assignments. What tool? Well if you had not noticed, the Delphi technique has disappeared. With this article, I hope to educate those who did not know about it and to start a movement to resurrect this great tool into the next PMBOK® Guide edition. 

Over my years as a project manager, consultant, and teacher, I have tried to experiment with as many project management tools as I can in the hopes that I could find several to use and simplify my work. I also encourage my students through our classes and various assignments to try techniques and tools in order to have several in their toolboxes when they get in the job market. In doing so, I discovered early on that even though brainstorming is easy to use, convenient, well-known and simple yet it rarely is done well and ends up often not generating a set of data that I felt truly confident with. This in recent years, became very true, especially around larger risk identification engagements.

If you are like me, we tend to rely on the same faithful project management tools and techniques repeatedly. If we are to build ourselves an effective toolbox, it is important to find a set of tools that gives you good results or at least results that you can build upon and depend on.

I experimented with the different permutations of brainstorming (there are over 250 variations documented, so go explore the web for new examples for you to try) with mixed results. I have some favorite variations that I use regularly, and I also keep some more obscure techniques alive through class discussions and experimentation. Around that time, being a bit frustrated, I gave the Delphi technique a second look. I had read about it in the previous versions of the PMBOK® Guide without truly investigating it before, but now it was time. That is when I discovered a tool that really, to this day, has remained with me and does the job.

For those of you who have not used the Delphi technique, it is simple to use and will provide you with greater confidence in your collected data. So, let’s discuss it some more.

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One Comment

  1. @Sylvie, FWIW, I teach much more advanced courses in Applied Asset, Portfolio, Program (Operations and Project Management than the PMP and I still teach and actually USE the Delphi Technique as a practitioner as well as an educator.

    The key is to expand your world BEYOND that of PMI to other organizations such as AACE, INCOSE and the Guild of Project Controls and you will find that while PMI is by far the best MARKETED professional society they are far from the BEST or most HIGHLY RESPECTED both in terms of their underlying Body of Knowledge as well as the credibility of their certifications.

    Dr. PDG, Jakarta

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