System failures due to miscommunication between developers is a common problem that can endanger the success of application development projects. To combat this problem, something called Joint Application Development is used. JAD brings developers, users, and managers together in brainstorming sessions with the intention of improving the System Requirement Determination (SRD) phase of the Software Development Life-Cycle (SDLC), and elevating the standard of quality produced by software development projects.
While the introduction of JAD into the SRD process has resulted in substantial improvements in regards to obtaining consistent results compared to previous methods, it still suffers from the inadequacies associated with its freely interactive group structure. Studies have shown that as many as 57% of development projects end in failure because they did not accurately identify the needs of their intended users. The research paper in question proposes that JAD can be improved by introducing elements of Nominal Group Technique (NGT) – which is a series of protocols designed specifically to avoid the sorts of problems that are common to unstructured workshops session such as JAD.
The usage of Joint Application Development was intended to speed up the SRD phase of IT projects. In order to accomplish this, JAD utilizes input from clients in a group setting in an effort to develop solutions by identifying what they believe their businesses’ requirements are. Before the usage of JAD was introduced, the identification of these requirements was achieved using personal interviews with stakeholders. As time passed the inadequacies of this method became apparent, thus leading to the introduction of JAD, which focuses on a team oriented, consensus-based approach to developing IT solutions.
Nominal Group Technique is a method of conducting group meetings - such as JAD workshops - and was designed to allow each member at the meeting to contribute their input by preventing the more assertive group members from overpowering those who are less vocal, resulting in an increase in general group satisfaction in the final results of meeting sessions. NGT has proven to be particularly effective when tough decisions must be made, or controversial topics are tackled using the input from a large group of people. It can also mitigate the effects of some group members attempting to influence others. Meetings involving smaller groups of around 15 or fewer members can be conducted as a whole. Larger groups are more easily managed when organized into subgroups of six to eight people.
In order to demonstrate the potential benefits of marrying NGT techniques to JAD sessions, experiments were conducted in which 24 workshops were held where professionals, managers, and business students were brought together in a laboratory setting. The results of this experiment seem to indicate that introducing NGT elements into the JAD process can yield substantial improvements in the outcome of the software development projects. The results of experiment confirmed all of its creator’s hypotheses in regards to improvements in the recorded performance measurements; and while there were no significant benefits regarding efficiency, unresolved issues, and the number of unique features generated by the projects, there was also no measurable impediment to these attributes.
While the ultimate validity of this experiment in data collection is marred by the limited nature of simulated experiments, the promising nature of its results warrant further investigation into the effectiveness of its premise. If NGT has been proven to aid settings similar to JAD meetings, then there is no reason to doubt that it can improve actual JAD sessions in the real world.
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