Recently, we came across a system that would let us change the matter of an email once it is deployed. It had some attractive additional features, and we spent considerable time trying to determine how it could be used to our advantage. But, on further consideration, we realized that our analysis was misled. We found out that the system does not address to any requirements of the business, nor the business side was involved in the review process. And, we were more concerned about the basic technology and its working than the system’s impact on how we
Joint Application Requirements (JAR)
A clear solution to such disconnects between business and technology is a Joint Application Requirements, a part of Joint Application Development. As online marketers, we put a sharp focus on producing the content that describes how our solution can solve business problems. In the pursuit to optimize interactions with consumers and prospects, we sometimes lose the track – that is what happened with us in this case.
Therefore, marketers should gather businesses’ needs first, and then evaluate and implement new technology. When the action is taken without considering the benefits of this connection to consumers and business requirements, it will create a ripple effect within your organization, and the company might lose its position and sales, and result in angry customers.
However, defining requirements is not an easy task. Establishing agreement between various stakeholders can seem strenuous, as communicating and edifying expected benefits can. JAR sessions are a great solution.
What Are JAR sessions?
JARs are systematic and facilitated meetings between the different working groups within the organization, especially held to discuss the requirements. In these sessions, participants state what they want, and a facilitator guide them towards a comprehensive solution that is greater than the participants’ individual needs.
In some sessions, the requirements might evolve over time, while in others all the requirements are stated up front. The sessions may last for several hours or days, depending upon the complexity of the matter.
Holding a JAR Session
The idea of the JAR session is more than just gathering everyone for a day to talk over all the issues. There is a set of formal techniques, which are applied to these sessions to make them as fruitful as possible.
- Identifying the Right Attendants – Inviting the project sponsor, major clients, and project team members is fine, but the question is who else are required to be present? All decision makers as well as information providers must be invited at the session. If there are no capable participants who can make decisions and provide necessary information, the session is not going to be useful.
- The Presence of a Facilitator – Usually, every JAR session has one experienced facilitator, who makes sure that the discussion stays on the track, the requirements are fulfilled, the rules are followed, and the meeting goes on as productive as possible. The experience and communication skills of a facilitator can significantly influence the success of the session. A facilitator does not contribute his or her opinions to the session.
- Having a Scribe to Take Notes – There should be a scribe to record the proceedings, document the decisions, and note any actions in the timely manner. Like a facilitator, even a scribe does not contribute to the session, but may ask to clarify or review some points.
- Spending the Required Time – The main aim of a JAR session is to go through all the aspects that need to be discussed, and reach a conclusion on what needs to be done. The participants should commit to attend the entire session, no matter how long it lasts.
Factors Considered by the Facilitator
The facilitator will start by focusing why a system is being needed and what benefits could be expected for the potential customers. Once these concerns are understood, other points should be covered as follows.
Functional Impact – What impact the new solution will have on the marketing organization and ongoing processes? What new processes will need? Will they need a new staff? What impact will it lay on other departments within the company? Has the impact been discussed and committed to?
Risks – What risks are paired with the new solution? What risks does it incur if the solution is not implemented?
ROI – What ROI is needed to achieve success? In how much time does the ROI require to be accomplished?
Ease of Use – How easy it is to use the solution? How do you want to approach the solution? What resources do you have to maintain the application?
Flexibility – How flexible and easy it is to alter the solution if it is required to?
Robustness – How many transactions you want the system to handle every day? How many transactions do you want to process concurrently? How many customers do you want to access the system?
Integration and Security – Does the new system can integrate with the existing one? What are the security measures?
Reports – What type of reports you want? How do you want to access those reports?
All such questions are addressed before jumping to conclusion. Not all the requirements that emerge from a JAR session weigh equally in the selection process. Considering all the conditions and constraints will result in the optimal selection. Thus, understanding the requirements and potential effect on the business through JAR meetings will lead to an improved competitive position, rise in sales, and utmost customer satisfaction.
Advantages of JAR Sessions
Imagine working on a system development project that involves various departments within a large company. Now, imagine you are holding a JAR session as a requirements gathering method.
JAR sessions offer several key advantages over traditional requirements gathering techniques. As they involve active end-user participation, these sessions invoke a sense of ownership and responsibility among the attendees. Clients are more likely to make a solution work because they have invested so much of themselves in the project.
A clear understanding of the project requirements helps cut down the development time and product cost. Better understanding of project goals between team members can help them communicate better and improves cooperation, no matter whether they are from the business or IT field. Furthermore, the involvement of both IT team and business executives reduce the chances of missing out any issues, and the final product can be delivered in a more efficient way.
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