5. Close your online engagement
Analyse and report feedback
When analysing feedback consider the social, technical, economic and political (STEP) context that it was provided in. This will help you to identify external factors which may have influenced the feedback, and it will help determine the significance of the overall result.
Make sure results are reported in an accurate and unbiased manner. Present quantitative results with a clear indication of the reliability of the data. Avoid mistaking correlation of data for causality when there is not enough evidence to draw that conclusion.
Publishing the final reports of consultation, or closing the loop, is standard practice. Demonstrate how you’re listening by also publishing summaries of feedback and how it was treated during the decision-making process. This shows respect to stakeholders who have invested their time and attention to engagement. In some cases these engagement outputs also include a summary of themes and how key issues raised have or will be addressed in the next phase of the project development.
Releasing the results of your engagement as open data can also inform future engagements and empower communities to self-organise.
What enduring published record will you provide for this engagement? Even summary information – about the project, who engaged and how, what they said and how you responded – is potentially useful for your organisation, and others when researching for their next engagement with similar stakeholders on related topics.
Manage the information generated
Your engagement project would have generated a lot of information, which all needs to be well managed in accordance with the Public Records Act 2005, the Official Information Act 1982, and potentially the Privacy Act 1993.
Evaluate your engagement project
Evaluation is an important but often forgotten aspect of engagement. By evaluating how well you met your metrics of success you can learn valuable lessons for future online engagements.
Questions to consider when evaluating your engagement project:
- Did you achieve the degree of participation you expected?
- Did you reach the right stakeholders at the right time?
- Which channels were the most successful at encouraging participation for which stakeholders?