Topics on the PMP: The Delphi Technique

A few of the topics on the PMP exam are just weird! One of my favorites is the Delphi Technique, which I didn’t know about before studying for the PMP exam. It’s a pretty straightforward technique, but it shows up surprisingly often in the PMBOK guide and on the PMP exam. It’s definitely a must-know!

PMP Delphi Technique

You don’t have to travel to Greece to employ the Delphi Technique in your project. – Pixabay.com

What is the Delphi Technique?

PMBOK defines the Delphi Technique as:

An information gathering technique used as a way to reach a consensus of experts on a subject. Experts on the subject participate in this technique anonymously. A facilitator uses a questionnaire to solicit ideas about the important project points related to the subject. 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 an undue influence on the outcome. (537).

Phew! Try to read that in one breath. Actually, don’t — it seems unsafe. Let’s break down the exhaustive PMBOK definition into three main points:

  1. The Delphi technique requires a bunch of experts.
  2. A neutral facilitator consolidates the experts’ anonymous survey responses.
  3. After a few rounds of surveying, consensus is achieved!

Here’s my favorite fact: apparently the creators of the Delphi weren’t pleased that the name stuck. After all, it makes it seem like there’s magic involved, and it is actually just a systematic evaluation (Thanks, Wikipedia, for that anecdote.)

I like thinking about the Oracle of Delphi when remembering the Delphi technique. It helps me remember that consensus is reached anonymously and almost like magic.

Where the Delphi Technique Shows Up

There are two places that the Delphi Technique can be used, according to the PMBOK Guide. The Delphi technique is, of course, a tool & technique, and it is found in each of these processes:

  • Collect Requirements, in Scope Management
  • Identify Risks, in Risk Management

Like many, but certainly not all, parts of the PMBOK guide, it makes intuitive sense to use the Delphi techniques in each of these processes. The Collect Requirements and Identify Risks processes both require a lot of idea generation and brainstorming. Using a facilitated way to identify key inputs from a variety of experts (AKA the Delphi technique) is an efficient way to collect relevant information.

Will you remember the Delphi technique now? Comment to share what helps you best remember “random facts” like the Delphi technique on the PMP exam.

Sign up for Early Access to Magoosh PMP Prep!

Comments are closed.


Magoosh blog comment policy: To create the best experience for our readers, we will only approve comments that are relevant to the article, general enough to be helpful to other students, concise, and well-written! 😄 Due to the high volume of comments across all of our blogs, we cannot promise that all comments will receive responses from our instructors.

We highly encourage students to help each other out and respond to other students' comments if you can!

If you are a Premium Magoosh student and would like more personalized service from our instructors, you can use the Help tab on the Magoosh dashboard. Thanks!