What is a good consultation process?

Overlapping forms to give a visual impression of results

The first stage in defining technical strategy is deciding who will be the user.   The second will is consulting expert opinion.  This consultation may take the form of interviews, workshops desk-based research, or a combination of all three.  In addition it may also involve internal and external experts, as well as the opinions of end users and customers.  Whatever the output document, be it a presentation, or a report, it will needs to be founded in the information collected, if it is to be an authoritative guide to strategy.


One effective approach to consultation, is to define in advance to structure of the information that will be collected.  This is particularly useful if summary information is to be presented in the form of charts directly derived from the data.  With such a clear linkage between the consultation to the report the possibility of auditing for accuracy is possible, also the data may be re-used in subsequent updates of the consultation process and final strategy document. (See the image to the right).

At workshops, the data may be collected using something as simple as flip charts with pre drawn boxes, or a more sophisticated form.  Generally the group dynamics work better with paper based methods than computer based methods.

A certain amount of collation of information is possible during a workshop, given sufficient help with the facilitation.  A combination of highlighting and hanging responses with overlapping edges can give a remarkably effective visual overview of data.  The method is versatile and can easily be customised to meet the requirement of a particular workshop.