First of all, what is Joint Application Design (JAD)? JAD is the method of including key end-users in the design and development process of an application. This is done through workshops called JAD sessions. The thought behind this practice is to have an end product that is more satisfactory to the client by including them in the development process. This gives the client autonomy throughout the process and helps ensure that the end product meets their needs more efficiently. JAD can be used on implementing new systems, enhancing existing systems, converting old systems, and purchasing systems. In general, a project that would be best suited for JAD would; involve several groups of end-users whose accountability characterize the organization’s department or division margins, is considered essential to the future achievement of the business, includes keen users, is a first-time development for the business, or has a troubled development relationship between the business systems and end-user organizations.

JAD Participants

In each JAD process, there are key stakeholders whom are involved. These are:

• Executive Sponsor: This person is from the customer’s institute and has the definitive power to make decisions concerning the project. This can be the customers Project Manager, CIO, CTO, CISO, or CEO.
• Facilitator: This individual is responsible for forming and planning the JAD activities, steering the JAD sessions, mediate disagreements, encourage end-user involvement, summarizing discussions to enable decision making, maintaining focus and unbiased approach.
• IT Representative: The IT rep is responsible for lending technical advice and to help the JAD team develop logical models and specifications to build the prototype of the end result. They must support the customer in turning their concepts into models of business requirements, guarantee all technological limitations are signified, cultivate an understanding of the end-user’s business goals, represent IT and IS job functions, render end solutions that are realistic for budget, timeframe, and efficiently utilize available technology.
• End-User: The end-user is typically the main focus of JAD. They provide their proprietary business knowledge, represent their strategic business direction, represent all key user groups who are affected by the development, and represent multiple levels within the organization.
• Scribe: The scribe is responsible for actively documenting the JAD process and the JAD sessions accurately. They essentially serve as a partner to the facilitator for each JAD session and provide reference to the facilitator for the review.
• Observer: During the JAD process, the observer will observe each JAD session, establish a knowledge of the end-user’s need and the JAD session decisions, interact with JAD participants outside of JAD sessions only.

Gathering Requirements

When taking on any project, developing a plan for its implementation requires accurate information from a variety of stakeholders and end-users. Having key stakeholders or end-users present during this process will help you gather a much more broad scope of their requirements. Gathering these requirements will give the JAD analyst the information needed to prioritize the requirements for an efficient implementation.

Key Factors

Some of the traditional methods for determining requirements are interviewing individuals, observing users/stakeholders using the system, and reviewing business documents. The Joint Application Development workshop can encompass many aspects of the traditional methods for determining requirements. Within the Joint Application Development workshop, you can not only interview the individuals, but you can review business documents, and also observe how each individual uses the system. This all will help the analyst analyze the system in search for; problems with the existing system, determine solutions in collation with the company’s organizational direction, examine proprietary information processing circumstances that may not be identified or anticipated with the new system, and understand why the current systems are designed the way they are to successfully integrate them with other systems without losing key functionality and maintaining as familiar of a user interface as possible to lessen the need for further training.
After defining the key factors of determining requirements, the analyst will review the information and decide if a Business Process Re-engineering is needed to assure that the information system will suite the company’s organizational direction. A Business Process Re-engineering is describes as, the pursuit of, and application of, fundamental change in business processes to accomplish innovative improvements in products and services. A Business Process Re-engineering is not always needed, but in some cases it can greatly benefit the organization.

Conclusion

JAD may not be the answer to every organization’s needs, but it does provide a much more inclusive and flowing environment than some of its iterative cousins. There are several ways to handle the Software Development Life Cycle, and they all have been proved effective in one situation or another. However, in the modern industry, customer relationship management is a growing concern and JAD is a process that can give your customer autonomy and a more satisfactory product in the end.