Joint Application Development (JAD)

Dave Rottmann
MSIS 488
Information Systems Analysis


Background of JAD

When to use JAD
JAD Participants
Generic JAD Life Cycle
Benefits of JAD
Making JAD Successful


Background of JAD

Definition of JAD

Joint Applicaton Development (JAD) is a process that accelerates the design of information technology solutions. JAD uses customer involvement and group dynamics to accurately depict the user's view of the business need and to jointly develop a solution. Before the advent of JAD, requirements were identified by interviewing stakeholders individually. The ineffectiveness of this interviewing technique, which focused on individual input rather than group consensus, led to the development of the JAD approach.


JAD offers a team?oriented approach to the development of information management solutions that emphasize a consensus?based problem-solving model. By incorporating facilitated workshops and emphasizing a spirit of partnership, JAD enables system requirements to be documented more quickly and accurately than if a traditional approach were used. JAD combines technology and business needs in a process that is consistent, repeatable, and effective.(19,21)


History of JAD

Chuck Morris of IBM conceived JAD in 1977 as a method for gathering the requirements for geographically distributed systems. In 1980, IBM Canada adopted and refined the approach. In 1984, IBM formalized JAD by publishing the JAD Overview pamphlet. By the late 1980s, many companies were implementing facilitated JAD workshops for analysis and design.

Because JAD has evolved over the years to include such elements as prototyping, CASE, and I?CASE, some people consider it a complete development methodology and have begun to call it "joint application development." Unfortunately, the only portions of a generic development methodology for JAD that were formalized were the definition, analysis, and design portions. The rest of the development was conducted in the "spirit" of JAD, but without the rigor of a defined process.(12,13)

When to use JAD

Project Types

JAD can be successfully applied to a wide range of projects, including the following:(17)
New systems
Enhancements to existing systems
System conversions

Purchase of a system


Project Characteristics

Not all projects, however, are good candidates for JAD. An appropriate project exhibits at least some of the following characteristics: (17)

Involves many groups of users whose responsibilities cross traditional department or division boundaries
Is considered critical to the future success of the organization
Involves willing users
Is a first-time project for the organization

Has a troubled project history or relationship between the systems and user organizations

Although the characteristics above describe a good JAD candidate project, all the characteristics should not be present in your first JAD projects. As the development team and the customer become more comfortable with the JAD approach, more complex projects can be undertaken.

JAD Participants

Executive Sponsor

The executive sponsor is the person from the customer's organization who has the ultimate authority to make decisions about the project. The sponsor may be the customer's project leader, the CIO, or, in some cases, the CEO. The facilitator works with the sponsor to get the project started; it is essential, however, that the sponsor make key decisions, not the facilitator.

The executive sponsor has the following responsibilities:
Accept ultimate authority and responsibility for the functional area to be addressed by the system.
Resolve business policy conflicts by being the ultimate decision?maker.

Honor the results of the JAD process.

Set the vision for the project.

Ensure the project team has access to and commitment from the right business user experts.

Communicate customer support and cooperation.


The executive sponsor gives the JAD process credibility in the customer's eyes. During the JAD orientation, the sponsor addresses the entire team to express support for a cooperative effort and to confirm that the JAD process has the corporation's support. The executive sponsor must also express confidence in the facilitator during the orientation session. The sponsor's address helps minimize the initial resistance that customer representatives may feel toward participating in the JAD effort.


The executive sponsor is the only JAD participant who normally does not attend the JAD sessions. The executive sponsor need only stop in occasionally to show continued interest in and commitment to the process.(13,15)


The success or failure of the JAD process is closely tied to how well the facilitator handles the session. This person must be highly trained as a facilitator and must have an excellent working knowledge of the tools and techniques to be used for capturing requirements in the JAD sessions. The facilitator must also be able to communicate effectively with the different personality types present on a JAD team.


The responsibilities of JAD facilitators include the following:

Organize and schedule JAD activities.

Guide the JAD sessions.

Mediate disputes.

Encourage participation.

Maintain focus.

Enable the decision?making process by summarizing the discussions.

Have no vested interest in the outcome of the session.


It is critical that the facilitator be impartial and have no vested interest in the outcome of the session. Selecting the facilitator from the IT provider's organization interferes with the goal of creating a sense of "team spirit" among the participants.Despite the key role the facilitator plays in a JAD session, Andrews and Leventhal point out that the focus of attention should always be on the JAD process itself, not the individual facilitator.

There is a school of thought that trained facilitators can successfully facilitate meetings regardless of the subject matter or their familiarity with it. This does not apply, however, to facilitating meetings to build information systems. A successful IS facilitator needs to know how and when to ask the right questions, and be able to identify when something does not sound right.


Howard Fallon, in How to Implement Information Systems and Live to Tell About It, states, "The complexity of information systems demands a specialized facilitator. Professionals in our industry cannot trust someone who doesn't understand information systems to direct important [JAD] sessions. As the facilitator, you need to know what the [JAD] session participants are trying to accomplish technologically."(1,14,22)


Users have the following responsibilities in the JAD process:(11)
Serve as the main focus of JAD (users make up 65 percent to 75 percent of the total group).
Provide business expertise.
Represent the strategic, tactical, or operational direction of the business.

Represent all major user groups or factions affected by the project.

Represent multiple levels of the organization.

IT Representative

IT representatives lend technical advice when it is required, help develop logical models and specifications, and build the prototype. To perform these tasks, they must be knowledgeable about the JAD process and the tools and methods being used. IT representatives are typically some of the key developers of the system. They use the JAD opportunity to become experts in the customer's business functions. Whatever their level of expertise, however, they must not try to force the decision?making process, but rather assist in developing the user's view of the solution.(15)


IT representatives have the following responsibilities in the JAD process:

Help customer turn ideas into models of business requirements.

Ensure all technological constraints are represented.

Develop an understanding of user business goals, priorities, and strategies.

Represent job functions such as data administration, business analysis, programming, prototyping, and production/operations management.

Ensure a solution that is realistic for the budget, can be delivered when needed, and takes advantage of available technology most effectively.


The scribe participates in JAD discussions to clarify points and capture them correctly. The scribe may ask the facilitator to stop the process whenever necessary to review, obtain clarifications, or offer rephrasing. The scribe should not be required to participate in the ongoing discussions as an IT representative or user representative. The scribe should never double as the facilitator. A facilitator who is also acting as the scribe can cause the JAD sessions to bog down significantly.(15)


Scribes have the following responsibilities in the JAD process:

Ensure that the results of JAD sessions are documented and delivered as planned.

Serve as a partner to the facilitator before, during, and after the workshop.

Provide reference and review information for the facilitator.


An observer has the following responsibilities in the JAD process:
Watch and listen.
Learn about user needs and workshop decisions.
Interact with the participants and facilitator only during breaks or before and after sessions.


Generic JAD Life Cycle


To complete the Planning stage, perform the following tasks:
Designate the executive sponsor.
Establish the need for the system.
Select team members for the definition component.

Define the scope of the session.

These are generic stages of a JAD and do not indicate any specific methodology. Many books have been written on JAD, and each tends to describe JAD stages and phases in its own way, but the concepts are similar.


Planning and Definition can be combined if the scope of the project is small. The deliverables from the Definition stage can be completed by conducting a JAD session with high?level managers. It is possible to have a Finalization phase after Planning and Definition that sells the business and leads to the Planning stage of the actual project.


The starting point for any JAD process is the designation of an executive sponsor. During the Planning phase, the facilitator should be working closely with this sponsor to provide an orientation to the JAD process and JAD environment. The executive sponsor's full commitment to the project is critical to its success.


After an executive sponsor is identified, the next task is to establish the need for the system by asking the following questions:

What are the expected benefits?

What opportunities does it address?

What problems would it resolve?

What are the risks?

How does it fit in with the strategic direction of the organization?


If it is determined that the project should be undertaken, the executive sponsor and facilitator select the team members who will participate in the Definition phase. You may also want to select the team members for the design sessions at this time. If this does not seem appropriate, begin working to develop the correct "mix" of people for the JAD session.(15,18)


To complete the Preparation stage, you must perform the following tasks:

Schedule design sessions.
Conduct orientation and training for design session participants.
Prepare the materials, room, and software aids.
Customize the design session agenda.

Conduct the kickoff meeting.


After the scope is set, the design sessions are scheduled and the participating team members are informed.


In most cases, a particular technique or methodology will be followed in the JAD sessions. To ensure participation, the customer must be educated in the terminology that will be used and the deliverables that will be created in the JAD sessions.


Other preparation tasks include preparing the room with the proper equipment (PC, workstation, overhead projector, flip charts, markers, white boards, and so forth), obtaining any software aids, and preparing the reference materials and definition documentation that will be referenced throughout the design sessions. An agenda is also prepared so that the objectives for each design session are clearly stated and the participants can stay focused on the work to be done.


The final Preparation step is the kickoff meeting, at which the executive sponsor addresses the team members and shows support for the JAD effort. This meeting is a key component of JAD. In organizations using JAD for the first time, the meeting will minimize resistance within the customer's organization and kindle a spirit of teamwork. A high?level explanation of the JAD process is given, preferably by the executive sponsor. If the sponsor is uncomfortable doing this, the facilitator can present the orientation. The goals of the project are stated and everyone is made to feel a part of the process. Initial concerns are expressed, and the executive sponsor works to ease any fears. The executive sponsor also gives a personal statement of support for the facilitator.


A successful orientation is key to starting off the JAD process on a good footing. Everyone should leave with a sense of pride in what is going to happen and with confidence that they will be performing a highly valued service for the company.(15,18)


Design Sessions

To complete the Design Session component of JAD, you must perform the following tasks:

Review the project scope, objectives, and definition document.
Identify data, process, and system requirements.
Identify system interfaces.
Develop a prototype.

Document decisions, issues, assumptions, and definitions of terms.

Assign someone to resolve all issues.


The session objectives determine which techniques are used in the design session and what deliverables are created. A good starting point, however, is to review the definition document that was prepared during the definition phase. This document outlines the project's scope, expected benefits, and high?level requirements.


The facilitator should frequently review the session goals and objectives, and report on how the session's progress relates to the overall project. The facilitator should also designate a person who will be responsible for resolving each issue or concern documented during the session. A resolution date must also be assigned. Subsequent design sessions can then begin with a discussion of any issues that have been resolved.(1,3)


To complete the Finalization component, you must perform the following tasks:

Complete the design documents.
Sign off on the design documents.
Make a presentation to the executive sponsor.
Demonstrate the prototype.

Obtain the executive sponsor's approval to proceed.

Evaluate the JAD process.


The first goal of the Finalization component is to obtain closure on the deliverables by reaching a team consensus that all necessary elements have been incorporated to fit the project's scope. The second goal is to produce a high?quality presentation that includes a prototype demonstration (if appropriate). The third goal is to prepare a document that includes all of the deliverables that will be referenced in the future development effort.


The presentation and prototype demonstration should be given to the executive sponsor, as well as to other leaders. The goal is to get approval to proceed to the next stage of development. The team members, executive sponsor, and facilitator should also take some time to evaluate the effectiveness of the JAD process and to discuss ways to improve that process for future use.(1,3)

Benefits of JAD


The JAD approach provides the following benefits:

Accelerates design
Enhances quality
Promotes teamwork with the customer
Creates a design from the customer's perspective

Lowers development and maintenance costs


JAD achieves these benefits because of the following factors:

The decision?makers are all present.

The facilitator keeps the group focused on the goals.

Differing views are handled immediately.

Most errors are caught in the Analysis and Design stages.

The system design reflects the user's desires.

Issues are resolved quickly.

Assumptions are documented and understood.

The process tends to gain momentum, not lose it.


When participants believe that they have had control over a project's effort and content, they believe in the results as well. This sense of ownership is critical for the next step, whether that step is implementing the results or selling them to others.(4)


In Joint Application Development, Jane Wood and Denise Silver cite the following testimonials to the benefits of JAD:(6)
Capers Jones states, "A study of over 60 projects ... showed that those projects that did not use JAD missed up to 35% of required functionality resulting in the need for up to 50% more code." The Capers Jones study determined that projects that used JAD missed only 5 percentto 10 percent of required functionality with minimal impact on the code.
David Freedman states, "How do you design a system that users really want? ... You can't. What you can do is help users design the systems they want."
"The successful use of JAD has pushed its use beyond traditional applications of the process. JAD is being used successfully for strategic systems and data planning, as well as for projects outside the IS community."—General Electric

In The Data Modeling Handbook,Michael C. Reingruber and William W. Gregory stress the importance of involving the customer, stating the following: "If business experts are not involved, your modeling effort will fail. There is no guarantee of success when business experts are involved. But there is no chance of success if they are not."

Making JAD Successful

Participation Rules

The following are general rules under which JAD participants should operate:

Gain consensus.
Agree on a time limit rule for disagreements.
Establish the executive sponsor as the tiebreaker.
Require mandatory attendance.

Stress that all participants are equal regardless of job code.

Require open participation.

Allow only one conversation to occur at a time.

Respond to ideas, not to people.


These rules are designed to address issues that can interfere with participation and consensus, and to emphasize that participants' job titles should have no influence during a JAD session. The team can develop variations of these rules, but be sure to set up the rules formally and post them somewhere in the room. It is important that all the participants, as well as the facilitator, contribute to enforcing these rules.(2)

Tips for a Successful JAD

Follow the suggestions below to ensure a successful JAD process: (2,12,14)

Make sure the facilitator is fully trained.
Conduct an orientation for all participants.
Make sure user representatives are properly trained.
Do not begin until each JAD role is filled.

Hold sessions off site.

Hold sessions only when all decision?makers are present.

Document all assumptions and issues.

Assign responsibility and resolve all issues.

JAD Critical Success Factors

The following are critical success factors that require buy?in from the start:
Prevent scope creep.
Identify and address critical political and organizational issues early.
Make sure that all project participants and key executive managers are committed to the JAD techniques.

Divide large projects into manageable units.

If any of these critical success factors are compromised, you greatly increase your chances of failure.


Modularizing large projects into manageable units can help sustain interest and motivation during long JAD projects. By modularizing the project you can apply a module?linked delivery approach in which each module is delivered in a four? to six?month time frame.


In Joint Application Development, Jane Wood and Denise Silver present critical success factors in terms of the following "ten commandments" of JAD:(6)

1.JAD success requires management commitment.

2.Full?time participants must attend the entire session.

3.JAD success requires a trained facilitator.

4.Make sure you have the right people in the session.

5.All participants are equal.

6.JAD preparation is as important as the JAD session itself.

7.Make a good agenda and stick to it.

8.Use appropriate tools and techniques in the session.

9.Keep technical jargon to a minimum.

10.Produce a quality final document quickly.

JAD is used as a technique for developing business system requirements and is typically used in the early stages of a systems development project.The purpose of JAD is to bring together MIS and end users in a structured workshop setting; to extract consensus based system requirements.This is accomplished by using a trained JAD facilitators and customized, planned agendas to assist the participant in arriving at complete, high quality requirements.Experience has shown that the JAD process substantially reduces development time, costs and errors.



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