Consultation is the dynamic process of dialogue between individuals or groups, based upon a genuine exchange of views and with the objective of influencing decisions, policies or programmes of action. This method involves the combination of digital tools to achieve this (i.e. is not the same as the Online Survey method).
A key differentiator is the 'stakeholder database' which is a feature of online consultation tools that tracks individual participation across multiple consultations.
The purpose of online consultation is typically to enhance information provision for a more informed exchange of views while harnessing the benefits of the digital channel such as immediacy, extended reach and targeting. For participants the key benefits include the ability to have their voice heard on more occasions, at their own convenience and among the knowledge of others.
|How would you describe the resources you have available to this activity?
||An enterprise class eConsultation system costs in the region of £15k and £5k per annum thereafter
|To what extent do you envisage your intervention in participation?
||Can be a lot of effort to drive the consultation, such as reporting on progress.
|How does the digital engagement activity need to integrate with other activity?
||A comprehensive eConsultation solution will integrate with paper responses and can be coupled to other platform such as mobile (e.g. SMS) or social networks, CRM etc.
|To what extent should participants take ownership of the activity?
||Participants rarely interact with others unless there is a forum alongside the consultation (i.e where issues arise and where people discuss the outcomes).
|How important is it to know the identity of the participants?
||The consultee is normally profiled.
|How public should the engagement activity be?
||Depending on the solution, it may not be possible to see the other responses or understand how a decision was formed. Feedback on the outcome is, however, a standard feature.
|How quickly are results required?
||A minimum 12 week lifespan is considered as necessary for meaningful consultation.
|Are you hoping to engage a particular audience?
|At what stage of your overall project will this engagement activity relate?
||There must be something to consult on or an existing evidence bank to make the consultation meaningful.
|On what lines are participants likely to be grouped?
||No segmentation but often highly relevant at the local level (i.e. among those people who are affected by an issue).
|How many people should the activity engage?
||Designed for mass participation but capable of any scale. However, minimum numbers are needed to be economically viable.
|How important is it that you gain insight from your participants, such as statistical reports on participant demography etc?
||Custom reporting a normal feature but this does not normally encompass the analysis of results (e.g. sentiment).
|Should the activity have an emphasis on getting participants ideas and opinions to diverge, converge, or both?
||May involve polling.