Econsensus is an open-source web-based tool to help organisations to track decisions that they make, and also to discuss proposals for new decisions online. Econsensus is specifically tailored to be useful to organisations using a consensus decision making framework, however is flexible enough to be useful to any organisation.
As of December 2011 we have been hosting Econsensus “as-is” for free to individuals and groups that would like to take a look at it and maybe start using it. You can sign up for free, create an account for your organisation and try out Econsensus by clicking the above link. If you’re technically minded then you can also download the code, contribute to the project, or make your own changes – see the developers’ guide below.
Consensus decision making
…is a formal process used by many organisations, including Aptivate, which aims to ensure that all voices are heard in a decision. Although Econsensus specifically supports this framework, it can be used in any organisation to track and discuss decisions and issues. For more info on consensus decision making, see http://seedsforchange.org.uk/consensus, or there are a variety of other internet resources on the topic.
Econsensus has a range of functionality such as:
- records decisions made, along with related data such as meeting info, feedback given, action points and next steps, review and expiry dates.
- records proposals that are in progress, and allows users to register various kinds of feedback e.g. “comment”, “consent”, “danger” “question” etc.
- view lists of decisions or proposals with sortable relevant fields e.g. deadlines, reviews
- archive decision discussions that never made it into policy
- discussion area for pre-proposal thinking, to work out the salient points of an issue
- easily link to external documents and other resources
- email interface – receive updates and make contributions by email
- admin user interface to add new users and email addresses and modify system items.
…and we are planning several improvements in the future such as full tagging and searching functionality; user-defined groups; a dashboard of recent changes relevant to each user; customised notifications; and whatever else is useful to us and others using the system! Econsensus is a work in progress and new improvements and features are deployed every month or so.
There is a basic introductory user guide available. We would welcome feedback about anything that could be clearer about using the system!
People who are interested in discussing possible features for Econsensus are encouraged to join the discussion mailing list at https://groups.google.com/group/econsensusdiscuss and ask questions or make points there. This is monitored by several Aptivate staff and volunteers, and we recommend that this is the first place to ask questions. It’s also possible to see the group’s history to read previous questions or see how thinking about the project has developed etc.
If you’re not ready to create an account and would like to try the system, you can access a “sandbox” public demo of Econsensus by logging into http://www.econsensus.org with username: “test”, password: “test” . You can safely try out anything you like in here.
Because the sandbox is a public version, you won’t see some functionality e.g. anything to do with sending email notifications, or the admin interface, but you should get the idea.
Work on Econsensus with us!
If you’re technically minded and would like to contribute to the development of the software, see our developers’ guide to getting started with Econsensus.