Joint Application Development (JAD) Technique

The Joint Application Development (JAD) technique is an extended, facilitated workshop.  It involves collaboration between stakeholders and systems analysts to identify needs or requirements in a concentrated and focused effort.

• This technique allows for the simultaneous gathering and consolidating of large amounts of information. 
• This technique produces relatively large amounts of high-quality information in a short period of time.
• Discrepancies are resolved immediately with the aid of the facilitator.
• This technique provides a forum to explore multiple points of view regarding a topic.

• Requires significant planning and scheduling effort.
• Requires significant stakeholder commitment of time and effort.
• Requires trained and experienced personnel for facilitation and recording.

JAD Process Steps 
1. Define Session: Define the purpose, scope, and objectives of the JAD session, selecting the JAD team, invite and obtain commitment to attend sessions from the appropriate stakeholders, and schedule the session.
It is important to obtain management commitment to support the process and identify the appropriate stakeholders. 
2. Research Product: Become more familiar with the product or service, gather preliminary information, obtaining any models.
3. Prepare: Prepare any visual aids, developing a realistic agenda, training the recorder, and preparing the meeting room.
4. Conduct Session: Follow agenda to gather and document the project needs and requirements.  It is important to ensure all participants are given equal treatment during the process.
5. Draft the Documents: Prepare the formal documents.  The information captured in the JAD session is further refined through analysis efforts, open questions or issues discovered through the sessions are resolved, and the final document is returned to stakeholders for review and validation.

The JAD team is the very heart of the JAD process and the selection and inclusion of stakeholders are critical to the overall success of a JAD session.  The team should consist of a mixture of skills from a variety of individuals.  The participants may include Business Process Owners, Operations Managers, Client Representatives, Business Analysts, Business Managers, End Users, Data Administrators, Systems Analysts, System Designers, Business Analysts, Advisors Project leaders, Auditors, Security, Standards, Vendors, Quality Assurance, Contingency Planners, Production Planners, IT Specialists, Human Resource Representatives, and Trainers.

Executive Sponsor 
Management commitment is required for any needs or requirements gathering process to succeed.  It is very important for the JAD session team to have a management sponsor.  The executive sponsor may be a manager of the business area whose needs and requirements are being addressed during the JAD session.  The sponsor does not have to actively participate in every JAD session.  It might be advisable to attend the first JAD session to show support and, perhaps, the final JAD session to review the results and make comments.  The sponsor should be available throughout the period of the JAD process to solve any serious problems or issues that may arise.  The JAD facilitator must work closely with the management sponsor and provide full briefings on progress.

The facilitator is the key person in the group and is responsible for planning, executing and managing the session.  They should be a respected, skillful leader with a good reputation within the organization.  JAD facilitator skills do not happen by chance, and the skills may have to be learned through specialized training and experience.  The choice of facilitator may mean the difference between a good session and a poor one.  It is essential that the facilitator be given authority to work closely with the executive sponsor to achieve the objectives of the JAD session.  The facilitator will know how to direct people, to be able to get the best information from them.  JAD Facilitators should be able to:
1. Focus on the process, not the information content, of the JAD session.
2. Be unbiased and neutral, and remain impartial.  It is important that the reporting structure is such that the facilitator cannot be influenced or biased.
3. Use organizational skills to lead groups and keep the sessions on track.
4. Ensure each subject under discussion is accurately recorded and completed to the stakeholders’ satisfaction before proceeding.
5. Stop sideline conversations.

The recorder is responsible for documenting the JAD sessions.  This must be done in an interactive fashion and the recorder must work closely with the JAD facilitator.  Many ideas and suggestions will be discussed. A large session may need multiple recorders.  The recorder must capture the important discussion and decisions made, who made them and why.  Laptop computers, white boards, flip charts, or overhead devices are particularly useful.
It is the responsibility of the recorder to distribute and file the documentation at the end of each JAD session or as soon as possible after the session or topic has concluded.  It can be a difficult task and should not be underestimated.  The recorder should have the following skills:
1. Knowledge of the stakeholder business area.  In order to record the results properly, the recorder needs to understand the concepts of what was discussed.
2. Excellent analytical skills.  The recorder needs to be able to analyze what was discussed and presented in the JAD session.
3. Experiences with JAD tools if any are used.  The JAD tool may be a word processing software, an electronic whiteboard, or a CASE tool.  Whatever tool is used, the recorder has to have a good knowledge of how to use the tool effectively.
4. Good technical writing skills.

The participation of stakeholders in the JAD session is widely accepted as essential to its ultimate success.  Without their involvement, the JAD session will not be productive.  The whole point of a JAD session is to bring stakeholder and performing organization together in a structured environment.  Stakeholders will rapidly gain a sense of involvement and ownership in the product or service development where a JAD session is used.  This is vital to its overall success.  Most important, the stakeholders will get the product they want and not one that has been designed poorly for them.  

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