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What is Joint Application Development?

By Troy Holmes
Updated May 16, 2024
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Joint application development (JAD) is a software development approach where business users and computer engineers work together to build a computer system. This joint project team is typically sequestered for several weeks during the design phase of the system. Using a JAD approach produces better software because the users are active participants in building the system.

Gathering system requirements is one of the most important steps in building computer software. The joint application development approach forces active participation during requirements meetings, which makes the meetings more productive. This is accomplished by letting the users interact with a daily prototyped system.

Prototyping an idea is a proven method for validating the requirements of a new business product. This is often done in manufacturing companies before investing in a new product line. The prototype is typically a smaller model that represents the ideas of the creators of the new product. Joint application development uses these prototyping techniques to prove out the ideas of system software.

Rapid application development (RAD) was a popular software prototyping approach that was used in the mid 1990s. It was also based on the idea of building rapid prototypes for validation purposes. Joint application development evolved from this approach by integrating the prototype design with formal documentation.

One of the keys to a successfully joint application development project is the assembly of a team. JAD requires four groups of participants to be highly engaged and motivated during the prototype sessions. This team includes business users, communication experts, technical writers, and software developers.

Joint application development sessions should follow a strict agenda and timeline. This typically includes idea capture, prototype creation and requirement validation. Each meeting should be managed by a facilitator who understands the expected outcome of the meetings.

The JAD sessions should be organized around the specific functional areas of the new product. This approach is typical of large product development efforts. It helps keep the team focused and engaged on a specific idea. Sessions should include adequate breaks and refreshments to ensure the team remains upbeat and engaged.

One of the key advantages to using the joint application development approach is speed and quality. A full JAD session should be completed in a few weeks and it includes a usable prototype. This prototype can be transferred to the manufacturing team where development can begin. This is typically a faster process than other development techniques.

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