Initially I included a section on cost efficiency in my series of blog posts on the principles of best practice in online consultation. Then I questioned whether cost efficiency was a feature of best practice. I determined that saving money in itself is not a measure by which to judge the success of a consultation.
But budgets are not limitless and it would be naïve to assume that efficiencies do not feature in planning a consultation.
Where the quality comes in, is in using resources appropriately. My experience is that online consultation can actually REDUCE the costs of a consultation, while also bringing about great results.
Due to the ConsultOnline template approach, a four month programme together with the comprehensive website and promotion both on and off-line can be considerably cheaper than the cost of a dedicated website alone. An online consultation is roughly ⅓ the cost of an offline consultation. A consultation which uses an online consultation package and ½ of the offline consultation that might have been used previously is just 48% the price of an offline-only consultation.
Local authorities are always very positive about the way in which online consultation can increase engagement. So why not pay less and achieve more?
Penny’s book Public Consultation and Community Involvement in Planning: a twenty-first century guide is published by Routledge in June 2017. Please email Penny to receive notification of its publication.