Definition

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Joint Application Design

(Alias: JAD, Joint Application Development, requirements elicitation)

... design--the process of transforming an idea into a useful thing--is the core of what engineers do.
             - Erico Guizzo, The Olin Experiment, IEEE Spectrum, May 2006

http://spectrum.ieee.org/at-work/education/the-olin-experiment/0

Joint Application Development (JAD) is a user requirements elicitation process that involves the system owner and end users in the design and development of an application through a succession of collaborative workshops called JAD sessions. The JAD approach leads to shorter development lifecycles and greater client satisfaction because it draws users and information systems analysts together to jointly design systems in facilitated group sessions. JAD can also be adapted to developing business processes that do not involve computer automation.

The outcome of a series of JAD sessions is a precise statement of user requirements. A prototype may also be developed.

JAD was developed by Chuck Morris and Tony Crawford of IBM in 1977 and has since been proven successful on thousands of software projects across industry sectors and application boundaries.

JAD and Agile

Many of the principles originating from the JAD process have been incorporated into the more recent Agile development process. Where JAD emphasises producing a requirements specification and optionally a prototype, Agile focusses on iterative development, where both requirements and the end software product evolve through regular collaboration between self-organizing cross-functional teams.

JAD remains the best approach if the system must be conceived and delivered in its entirety. That is, it is not possible to deliver the system in small increments of functionality.

The JAD Process

JAD Process

The JAD process proceeds through a number of phases each succeeding phase considering different aspects of the system in ever increasing detail.

JAD/Plan Phase

The JAD/Plan phase is conducted when individuals within an organisation have come up with an idea for a system. They have acquired a sponsor and generated enough support for project funds to have been allocated. Staff have also been committed to the planning activity.

The objective of this phase is to identify the system's high-level requirements and scope. The remainder of the phases deal with fleshing out the various functional areas of the system in greater detail.

Phase Activities

Each phase has three main activities. Planning, conducting the session and wrapping up.

Planning the JAD/Plan Phase

This activity can be a one to five day session conducted with the project sponsor.
Activities include:

  • Identify high-level requirements
  • Define the system scope (business functions, organisational groups, users, geographical locations, external interfaces)
  • Estimate the number of sessions required
  • Plan requirements elicitation sessions
  • Prepare visuals
  • Set up document environment
  • Setup prototype environment if applicable.

Planning JAD/Design Phases

Organisation Tasks

  • Identify the business processes to be addressed
  • Identify session participants
  • Schedule the session
  • Create the agenda/session plan
  • Distribute the session plan
  • Confirm participants
  • Identify participant training needs (e.g. is a JAD process overview required?)

Prepare Session Visuals an Materials

  • Session overview
  • Requirements capture process orientation
  • System context diagram
  • High-level requirements overview
  • Issues list
  • High-level process flow diagrams
  • Complex processing descriptions that must be prepared off-line
  • Standard forms such as data definition, process description, report/screen layout, interface descriptions

Conducting the JAD Session

Session activities may include:

  • Task briefing. Provide a clear statement of what the session is to achieve
  • Problem analysis. Reach a complete understanding of the problem
  • Product description. Describe the external behaviour of the target system from the user's point of view
  • Evaluation. Establish if the requirements are complete correct, consistent and implementable
  • Summary. Summarise the requirements discovered

Wrapping-Up the JAD Session

The goal of the wrap-up is to consolidate all the outputs from the session and to present them to the participants and management for approval. Tasks may include:

  • Complete the JAD/Design document. This can be a requirements specification document and/or various data and process models
  • Update the prototype if applicable
  • Prepare a sponsor/user presentation
  • Conduct a sponsor/user presentation
  • Correct JAD outputs if necessary
  • Obtain sponsor approval

The final wrap-up involves consolidating all outputs from all sessions into a coherent business requirements specification and a prototype if applicable.

Collaboration

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