Joint Application Development (JAD)

Joint Application Development - toolshero

In this article you will find a practical explanation of Joint Application Development (JAD). After reading, you will understand this powerful IT technique in which business users and system engineers work together.

What is Joint Application Development (JAD)?

Joint Application Development is a process in which business information is gathered for the development of new information technology systems or to improve user involvement or develop and improve quality in systems.

In this technique IT, specialists and business users collaborate in discussion, project management and learning groups, talking about the new information system. With the participation of both parties it is possible to develop and solve the requirements of the new software system in an easier way. The meetings can be hours, days or weeks, depending on the intensity of the workshops.

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To summarise, Joint Application Development is the process that is used to start a new project. The JAD technique is used for technology projects with Application Management that can be executed for internal processes of an organisation or to commercialise it externally.

This requires workshops or meetings that involve stakeholders, both IT specialists and business users so that they can collaborate and develop the system together in the best way. Having both perspectives that can bring innovative brainstorming for the technology is a key factor for success.

Background

In the 1970s, Chuck Morris and Tony Crawford of IBM developed JAD as a method for gathering system requirements in workshops where customer participation was essential to the system development process.

The system developers researched the requirements and developed the application with customer participation in the form of workshops, using an informal methodology of interaction with key stakeholders in order to meet the objectives of the software needed.

JAD Process

It is important for a good team to have the key people involved in the process. This way, all the essential points and feedback are addressed. This makes it more likely for the team to achieve the objectives. There should also be a facilitator who is the main actor to guide the sessions in a controlled and organised way.

The points of the Joint Application Development process to achieve great results are mentioned next.

  • Important points and decisions should be recorded. Gathering information on system requirements is essential for the construction of the software or information technology system.
  • Participation is important, asking questions, making proposals makes the meeting more productive, as interaction between the stakeholders is the key method to gather the right data
  • Brainstorming between the people involved from different departments will make the development and conclusions more nourished by the different perspectives and ways of thinking that each person has, thus achieving a joint discussion

The creation of a prototype is in some cases fundamental for the development of a system as it can validate the requirements of the new commercial product. The prototype can identify what was developed in the workshops, based on the ideas presented by the stakeholders for the new system. The prototype will help to show the set of applications using this development technique for the creation of the system software.

Key Participants in Joint Applications Development

The key people involved in the JAD are a fundamental part of the success of the project as they are the core to get the system up and running. For this reason, we will mention some roles that cannot be missing to achieve the desired results.

Executive sponsor

This is the person who founds the project or owns the company. The executive sponsor can provide feedback and make critical decisions in the project. Although it is not necessary for them to be constantly involved, they should be available throughout the process in case their intervention is needed to solve problems or make important decisions.

Facilitator

The facilitator is the person in charge of running the meetings, identifying problems and making clear the final points of each meeting. The facilitator is in constant direct communication with the executive sponsor to achieve the desired objectives.

The facilitator must:

  • Be impartial and neutral
  • Lead the group and maintain the balance of the meetings/sessions/workshops
  • Highlight points of value in the process of meeting with others

The facilitator communicates communication among the whole team.

This is also the person in charge of taking minutes or recording information from each session. This facilitates communication to review inputs, decisions and covenants after each meeting, giving a record of everything.

IT specialist

The IT specialist is in charge of providing technical advice and helps develop models to build the prototype.

The IT specialist must:

  • Help the customer convert the concepts they have into business requirements
  • Make appropriate use of the technology they have
  • Provide realistic final solutions for the budget and delivery time
  • Provide feedback and knowledge to strengthen the information technology system being developed

Observers

This is the person who observes every moment of the JAD process, the needs of the end user and the decision making that took place.

The observer must:

  • See and listen
  • Be aware of the wishes and needs of the user in the workshops / sessions
  • Interact with the participants and the facilitator before or after each meeting

Interested users

These are the people who are the main focus in the process. Without them, Joint Application Development (JAD)- sessions would be meaningless.

They represent all the groups that will be affected by the development of the project. Their opinions and views will help shape the system they need.

Users should:

  • Provide business knowledge
  • Represent everyone involved in the project

Steps in Joint Application Development (JAD)

There are a number of steps to achieve Joint Application Development. The steps are mentioned below

Step 1: identify the objectives and constraints of the project

It is necessary to have clear objectives for the sessions and the project. Pre-planning the activities to be carried out is essential for the fulfilment of the tasks. Also be clear about who will be invited and how they can contribute to the creation of the information system.

Check whether the project you want to carry out was created before: if it worked, if it did not work, what eventualities it presented, or whether the project is a completely new initiative.

Step 2: identify the critical success factors

It is relevant to identify the critical success factors such as the measurement of the achievement of objectives, the planning and the results of the operational life of the system.

Step 3: define project deliverables

Defining the documentation, its narrative and layout is essential. Diagramming is vital but even more so a software process is much better to be able to develop the system process.

Step 4: define the schedule of workshop activities

The duration of the workshops must be calculated. The introduction should not take too long as the process should be followed by the continuation of the processes. The first day is an introductory day.

The second day is for learning and participation in order to achieve good communication.

The third day is where everyone is working on solving the problem, where productivity is achieved. Team Building to verify the prototype and to be able to achieve the fulfilment of objectives.

Step 5: select participants

These are the business users, IT professionals and external experts that will be needed for a successful workshop. Prepare the workshop material

Step 6: prepare the workshop in advance

This preparation should have visual tools, diagrams and documentation to help participants understand the project.

Step 7: organise the workshop activities and exercises

The facilitator should design the exercises and activities for the workshop, such as a decomposition diagram, a high-level entity-relationship diagram or a data model diagram among other types of diagrams to help participants learn.

When the diagram to be worked with is chosen, the facilitator designs the exercises in the workshop agenda for the group to develop the diagrams. The workshop will combine practical exercises oriented towards problem solving or working towards a different function, which will be carried out by sub-teams. These sub-teams can be made up of people who are involved in different areas of the company in order to bring different perspectives to the project.

Step 8: prepare, inform and educate the participants

The participants of the sessions should know how the workshop will be distributed, its objectives and the desired outcomes of the meetings. This can take the form of an internal organisational mailing.

Step 9: coordinate the logistics of the workshop

The necessary materials should be available for the workshop, such as computers, a projector, paper, pens, tables and chairs, among other items needed.

Advantages of Joint Application Development (JAD)

  • Allows collaboration between various professions to resolve conflicts
  • Avoids traditional interviews per person and thus saves time
  • Improves the system as the business users involved help to identify what is really needed based on their needs. Thus achieving the product for the end customer
  • JAD proposes brainstorming sessions to get people to interact and think for the project
  • The joint collaboration between the company and the clients reduces all risks
  • It uses CASE tools in JAD workshops which improve the productivity of the session and provides system analysts with discussed and ready-to-use models

Disadvantages of JAD

  • Different opinions can make it difficult to organise objectives.
  • Depending on the size of the project the time in JAD sessions can have a more significant commitment and take time from the people involved.

Challenges

  • The facilitator must provide a peaceful and balanced environment where all participants can raise their voices to express their views or comments, without leading to disorder
  • Professionals who are relevant to the project should be involved, otherwise there will be people who will not contribute something meaningful
  • The organisers of the JAD sessions should carry out a prior study of the topic to be discussed in order to be able to lead the project properly in the improvements or creation of the system that is being developed

CASE tools as JAD support

The JAD method uses CASE (Computer Aided Software Engineering) tools, which is software that helps in the monitoring and realisation of system creation projects. CASE tools is a set of software applications, used to automate System Development Life Cycle (SDLC) activities. CASE tools are used by system project leaders and IT specialists. Some CASE tools can be for programming, design, maintenance, among others.

Practical Joint Application Development example

The bookstore Café e Historias wants to build a website for the online sale of books. However, the company has no experience and does not know how to do it, so it looks for a company with expertise in website development. As the bookshop does not know very well how it wants the design of its website, the company uses the method of Joint Application Development so that the client, in this case the bookshop, feels comfortable and participates in the creation of the website.

  • The workshop sessions are defined
  • The objectives
  • The key participants (client, IT professionals on web development, project leader among others)

The library will be involved in the whole process of the website development, being a participant and a key piece for the success.

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Now it’s your turn

What do you think? Is the Joint Application Development method still relevant for companies? Have you applied the JAD method in your organisation? If so, please tell us about your experience. Do you think it is efficient in terms of labour?

Share your experience and knowledge in the comments box below.

More information

  1. Becker, S. A., Carmel, E., & Hevner, A. R. (1993, January). Integrating joint application development (JAD) into cleanroom development with ICASE. In [1993] Proceedings of the Twenty-sixth Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences (Vol. 3, pp. 13-21). IEEE.
  2. Carmel, E., George, J. F., & Nunamaker, J. F. (1992, December). Supporting joint application development (JAD) with electronic meeting systems: a field study. In ICIS (pp. 223-232).
  3. Davidson, E. J. (1999). Joint application design (JAD) in practice. Journal of Systems and Software, 45(3), 215-223.

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