Joint Application Development (JAD)

There is a specific technique (or set of techniques) for more rapidly gaining a consensus from a group of individuals. The technique is called Joint Application Development, or JAD.

Judging by its name, you might think that this technique only applies to developing software, but that is not the case.

The JAD technique can be applied to a wide variety of areas where consensus is needed. This includes gathering business requirements, creating mission and vision statements, defining a project, building a quality management plan, etc.

The purpose of the JAD session is to dramatically reduce the timeframe required to complete a deliverable where consensus is required. Notice that this definition does not state that you will dramatically reduce the cost.

Depending on how the JAD is implemented, it may, in fact, cost more that the traditional methods. This can occur if you need to gather the JAD session participants from many locations and have to pay travel expenses. However, in many cases, your management and sponsor are willing to pay more for a process that takes much less time.

How dramatic might the time savings be? They can be very dramatic. As an example, the time required to produce the key components of your requirements might be reduced from six weeks to one week, or perhaps even two days. So, you are not talking about reducing turnaround time by 10%. JAD sessions can result in dramatic improvements – maybe 75%, 80%, 90% or higher.

The key concept of a JAD session is that you get all of the major decision-makers, stakeholders and knowledge providers into one place at the same time. The dramatic reduction in time comes from removing the lag required to move information from person to person.

If a stakeholder has a question about scope, they can ask it in the context of the JAD session. The people required to answer the question are in the room and can answer the question immediately – no time delay and no misrepresenting the question. A two-week process of getting a question clarified and answered can instead take place in ten minutes, since all of the right people are together at the same time.

If possible, the JAD session should result in a consensus on the requirements and the requirements being approved. This requires that you have the right people involved for the right amount of time, you have a facilitator to guide the discussion and you have a scribe to document everything.

If everything and everyone is available to you, you should hopefully be able to create a final set of requirements and have the participants sign their approval before the JAD session ends. This cuts through the entire traditional requirements gathering cycle of validation, specification and verification.

Key Learning

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