Expert judgment is a technique of decision-making that relies on knowledge from experts within a specific knowledge area, discipline or industry. For example, the opinions of experts can be sought on software projects when estimating the duration of activities or planning; what BA methodology to follow for specific types of projects; or what programming language to use. For the business analyst, it’s worthwhile bringing in experts when faced with situations that involve:
- Validating data
- Deciding which approach to take on a project (e.g. BA Approach)
- Predicting the occurrence of events or consequences (risks) of adopting a certain course of action
- Providing the elements needed to make a decision
Experts such as Centers of Excellence, consultants, stakeholders or associations may be consulted throughout the course of the project. These experts typically bring their experience and knowledge to bear on problems so that the most appropriate direction can be taken.
Expert judgment is regarded as one of the main methods of generating or obtaining data. Across various fields, it is a common name that describes the use of experts to produce valuable information or scientific data; not all methods of expert judgment can be said to produce scientific data.
Expert judgment typically involves asking a group of experts interested in a particular field to measure their degree of belief in a particular course of action while taking into consideration diverse variables. The different opinions obtained from the experts can then be summed up to arrive at a decision.
Delphi is a type of technique that uses a combination of expert judgment and history. Though there are different variations, they all include experts providing their individual opinions and having several rounds of estimation until an “agreement” is reached.
The process of expert selection can sometimes prove to be difficult, however. This is often the case when unqualified experts are included, especially where there is desire for a large group of experts. As a result, bias can easily be introduced. Biases can sometimes be introduced when experts form opinions due to various reasons which are not under the control of the analyst. The most common forms of biases are structural biases, cognitive biases, mindsets, and motivational biases, to mention a few.
Do you use expert judgment on your projects? What is your experience with this technique?
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