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|»||Complex business processes?|
|»||Trouble defining those processes?|
|»||Conflicting goals among users of application software?|
Answered yes to any of these?
A JRP workshop can help.
Joint Requirements Planning (JRP) is a technique for drawing out user requirements through joint planning sessions of software users and information technology personnel. These informal sessions are workshops that provide an open environment for people to discuss what they do, how they do it, and what critical information they need to support their job responsibilities. Written documentation defining these requirements results from a JRP session.
These sessions are sometimes called Joint Application Design (JAD) meetings. We prefer to think of them as planning sessions rather than design sessions. However, when executed well, the results of these JRP (or JAD) sessions will strongly influence the final solution.
JRP workshops provide many benefits.
Following a Structured Methodology is critical.
JRP workshops use a top-down approach. They engage a team of users and technology professionals in defining requirements and designing systems. The structured process typically goes something like this:
1. Confirm the general requirements for the system, including the scope, goals and objectives.
2. List the main processes (activities) within each functional area.
3. Develop blueprints for and descriptions of the process and object models in use.
4. Identify the information needed for supporting the processes and depict it in a logical data model.
Preparation is key!
Sponsors identify the participants for each JRP workshop. The sessions are scheduled well enough in advance so participants can plan accordingly. The sponsors conduct an initial review of the functional area being examined by reading the background materials and interviewing business experts. The sponsors may prepare preliminary working models. They may also ask participants to prepare for the session by reviewing the same background materials and completing homework assignments.
The workshops have clearly defined objectives.
To meet the objectives, an agenda is developed and presented to the group by the JRP facilitator. Ground rules are established to ensure all participants are following the same process and get an equal opportunity to participate. The role of each person attending the session is reviewed. Responsibility for recording pertinent information is assigned at the outset.
Once all participants understand their roles and responsibilities, the requirements analysis can begin. Through discussions led by the JRP facilitator, the participants identify and define their requirements. Emphasis is placed on total participation and group consensus.
JRP workshops are results oriented.
All the information provided by the participants during the session is documented. A requirements definition report is produced and distributed to each JRP participant for review.
JRP workshops can be applied to many business problems.
JRP can be used whenever user input is needed, such as during planning, requirements definition, and design. Specifically, JRP is used to define the user requirements in terms of the business processes and information that people use to do their jobs.
For large systems, the requirements may be too vast and complex to identify in one workshop. In that case, separate JRP sessions can be conducted for each functional area.
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Want to know more about requirements gathering? Take a look at our Requirements Definition Program.
The adjoining article uses the terms Process Model, Object Model and Data Model. You may not be familiar with these so here are brief definitions.
Business Process Model - The Business Process Model is a document or diagram describing the worker activities and information flows in a business process.
Business Object Model - The Business Object Model is a document or diagram depicting key business entities (things people use to do their jobs) and workers (roles people fill) in the business processes being analyzed.
Logical Data Model - The Logical Data Model is a document or diagram showing information entities (data people need to do their jobs), their attributes and relationships to other entities.
JRP workshops are an effective way to draw out the information needed to create these models.