In a previous post, I talked about the benefits of Joint Application Design (JAD) sessions. In case you missed it, or you are unfamiliar with the concept, a JAD session is a workshop in which multiple project members collaborate to outline the development of a software system. Typically, a JAD is lead by a single person given the important responsibility of being the “Facilitator.” In today’s post, I’ll offer a few suggestions that will help you JAD Facilitators out there lead a successful session. These are some of the very same practices used to great success by our own Sagitec delivery teams.
1) Set Clear Objectives
The overall goal of the project is clear: design, develop, and implement the software system. But each JAD session will have a much narrower scope than that. Before you sit people down in a room and except them to accomplish something, know exactly what it is you hope to do. What specific functionality will you discuss in the meeting? What deliverables should be produced?
2) Stay Focused / Control the Scope
Once you’ve set clear expectations for the JAD, it is your role as Facilitator to guide the session towards that desired outcome. Generally speaking, it’s best to narrow the focus to a single functional area or use case per session. When issues arise that stray towards other areas or subjects, place them in a “parking lot” for later discussion. Try to set a time limit for discussions, and intervene if necessary to break up distracting side conversations. Don’t revisit decisions that have already been made.
3) Find Suitable Facilities
The physical location of your JAD can promote productivity or hinder it. Make sure the room is large enough to accommodate the number of participants. Find comfortable chairs. Make sure the A/V equipment works. Provide coffee, water, and snacks. Also, think about the arrangement of the room. Popular opinion contends that a U-shaped table configuration facing a projection screen is best. This gives all participants a clear view of the presented materials, discourages from notions of hierarchy, and provides a space for the facilitator to move around in.
4) Be Respectful
This should go without saying. When you’re the Facilitator, you must respect each JAD participant equally, regardless of title, expertise, or whether or not you get along with that person outside of work. The whole idea behind the JAD is to get a higher quality product by incorporating a variety of views and ideas. It will be your job to engage and involve all participants and see to it that their different opinions and values are heard. Don’t let strong personalities drown out softer voices. Listen, ask questions, and probe for deeper understanding.
Ever facilitated a JAD session? What do you think of this advice? Can you offer any other helpful tips? Let us know!
Image credit: Nearsoft
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Sagitec Solutions, LLC designs and delivers tailor-made pension, provident fund, and unemployment insurance software solutions to clients of all sizes. Sagitec has the expertise necessary to help their clients achieve strategic business objectives, enhance service offerings, and lower operating costs. Find further information by visiting http://www.sagitec.com. For more information, contact Rick Deshler at (651) 335-3406 or at rick.deshler@Sagitec.com.