IBM formalized the Joint Application Design process in 1974. In JAD, customers and end-users jointly define and design their solution with the solution provider that is developing and delivering it. It closes the gap in time and cost around understanding requirements early and throughout the application development lifecycle.
In the JAD process, sessions are held with the stakeholders and experts together to share their views and understand views of others. This establishes a common understanding early in the process so there are no costly surprises later. Because the customers and end-users themselves designed the application, they immediately adopted and liked the solution.
I once participated in a JAD project where the application delivered required no training or customer support. The application was intuitive to the customers and end-users because of their continual participation in defining and designing the solution.
Key participants to holding a JAD:
Executive Sponsor: The executive who charters the project. They must be high enough in the organization to be able to make decisions and provide the necessary strategy, planning, and direction.
Subject Matter Experts: These are the end-users of the solution; product managers and/or product owners, architects, designers and developers; and the outside experts that will be needed for a successful workshop. This group is the backbone of the sessions that will drive the changes.
Facilitator: The facilitator is responsible for identifying those issues that can be solved as part of the meeting and those which need to be assigned at the end of the meeting for follow-up investigation and resolution. The facilitator serves the participants and does not contribute information to the meeting.
Scribe: Records and publishes the proceedings of the meeting and does not contribute information to the meeting.
Observers: Members of the application development team and other crucial roles assigned to the project that need to understand the customer’s requirements. They are to sit behind the participants and are to silently observe the proceedings, listen and learn.
Like any undertaking of this nature, a successful JAD requires a clearly defined vision, goals, objectives and success criteria; define project deliverables; well defined target audience and JAD participants; committed executive sponsorship and good leadership to see it through.
When done right, JAD can save you time and cost and deliver happy customers, employees and long-term sustainable revenue.