How do you select the technologies to use in an e-consultation?
In each of our e-consultation trials we spent some time with our trial partners identifying how e-consultation could fit into their overall consultation strategy. Together we went through these stages:
- Clarify the objectives of the consultation.
- Identify participants and their needs (especially communication needs).
- Work out what knowledge we want to learn (and how structured it needs to be).
- Pick a few communication processes that will help 2 contribute to an understanding of 3.
- Select technologies to support the communication processes in 4.
- Combine these processes and technologies into a plan for the consultation.
Each consultation will involve a number of activities, some using ICTs and some using traditional techniques. Together they should engage all the desired participants and help them produce the knowledge and understanding needed for a particular consultation.
Note that this is a design process that starts from first principles. We analysed needs, broke them down into finer details, indentified individual steps, then synthesised them into a custom consultation design. Too often consultations are carried out just by following traditional routes, like sending out consultation documents and waiting for replies. The e-consultation equivalent is just to pick any technology you have heard of (e.g. discussion forums or online questionnaires) and then try to use it in every consultation, whether or not it is suitable for the participants and objectives. Like learning to drive, the first step is to engage your brain.
Once you have identified the consultation processes and technical needs, take a look at our Technology classification to see what choices you have for e-consultation technologies.
Technology selection process
- Define your needs (Why you need a consultation technology)
- Define consultation case
- Description: a short explanation of the consultation activity
- Reasons: a description of the needs why this consultation activity should be taken
- Assumptions: All the assumptions to make this consultation activity
- Benefits: List of benefits for consulting organisation and participant
- Cost: How much it cost to run this consultation activity
- Investment: Can this consultation activity will be taken in future
- Define consultation case
- Define your selection criteria (Criteria for Technology selection)
- Vendor stability and reputation (support)
- Wide adoption in market
- Does it require any possible changes to meet stack holders needs
- Secure and mature/proven technology
- Training and documentation
- Actual implementation of the technology
- Technology accessibility standards
- List of matching technologies
- Select the best suited for you
- Good description of technology
- Infrastructure required (network)
- Platforms (operating systems, hardware)
- Architectural Integrity (Interaction with other technology, Would it possible to integrate with other technology?)
- Fitness for purpose (Is it meeting purpose envisaged?)
- Expertise (What knowledge should be available in-house, Maintenance and support)
- Maturity of Standard (Is the technology mature and well-proven)
- User needs (Does the technology satisfy the user requirements and Matching stack holders requirements)
- Preservation needs (Is technology is appropriate for long-term preservation)
- Budget (time, money)