A quick overview of the typical stages of a consultation and the things you should keep in mind when conducting a consultation.
Here is a quick overview of the typical stages of a consultation and the things you should keep in mind when conducting a consultation:
- Make sure the consultation is necessary: Before starting any consultation exercise it is vital to make sure that it is necessary. Make sure that you check with colleagues across the organisation that the information you need isn’t already available or held elsewhere in the council. Making sure your activity is necessary and valuable will also help to reduce consultation fatigue and encourage residents to engage with the process.
- Set clear objectives: Be clear about what you are trying to achieve. What do you want to find out? What information is already available (check your council’s consultation database)?
- Co-ordinate the exercise: Work in a joined-up way within your council to avoid duplication and over-lapping activities. Gain the necessary approvals from senior management and relevant boards.
- Allow sufficient time: Allow adequate time for consultees to respond and for their views to be fully considered before any action or decision is made.
- Document the costs: Anticipate how much your consultation will cost, how much capacity is needed and the resources needed to implement any changes following the outcomes of the exercise.
- Select and recruit participants: Identify the people or groups who are likely to be affected by, or have an interest in, the focus of the consultation. They will need to know what the consultation is about, what is being asked of them and the potential outcomes.
- Select an appropriate method: Choose the most appropriate way to consult depending on the type of questions you want answered – and the subject matter at hand.
- Promote the exercise: Request support from within your council to increase awareness of the consultation. You will want to post details of the consultation several weeks prior to it commencing.
- Gather and input data: Record the views of participants in a transparent and accessible way. This may be easier for text-based methods such as surveys, than face-to-face methods, for instance.
- Monitor the responses: Keep track of the number of responses you receive so action can be taken to improve response rates if necessary. Check the responses being submitted to get an indication of the issues arising.
- Analyse the results: Consider what story the data are telling and what this means in terms of the questions asked. Calculate how many people gave certain answers and look for any variations. You should also seek to identify any patterns, trends or themes to help identify key issues.
- Determine your outcomes: Your council should decide what it is going to do as a result of the consultation and why. You should explain how consultees’ contributions have informed the decision-making process.
- Feedback to relevant parties: Ensure that the results and subsequent actions are communicated to participants and other relevant parties.
- Evaluate your consultation: Consider if your consultation has achieved its objectives. How have consultees’ views affected the council’s decision? What has changed as a result of the consultation? What lessons that can be learned?