Systems Development Methodologies

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Introduction

Managers and business organizations invest in information technology and systems because such strategies provide real economic value to the business. The decision to implement or sustain an information system presumes that the profits on this investment will be higher than that of other assets (Laudon & Laudon, 2006). In this light, a proper information system that meets the organizational requirements should be developed following a suitable development methodology. This paper discusses the Joint Application Development/Design (JAD) and Rapid Application Development (RAD), differentiating the advantages and disadvantages of each method.

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JAD

JAD is a methodology used in recursive development to bring together business requirements while developing the system.The core activity of JAD is to involve the customer or the end user in the in the process of system development, by the means of joint workshops known as JAD sessions. This is aimed at improving client satisfaction and faster development times. A typical collaborative workshop consists of the following participants: sponsor, facilitator, end users, managers, scribes, observers, and domain experts. In essence, all the participants must agree on the scope and goals of the system through structured interviews (Kendall & Kendall, 2006).

There are several advantages that can be attributed to JAD. First, JAD reduces time and costs related to gathering requirements. Information from system users is collected during the first phases of development process and thus the requirements agreed upon by the end users are determined. Second, collaborative workshops bring experienced participants together helping them to exchange their understanding, and create the concept of system ownership.

Third, JAD is a methodology that has been tested and applied by many organizations and therefore it can easily be used by any business. Fourth, the incorporation of CASE tools into JAD sessions enhances the efficiency of workshops and enables systems analysts to integrate useful models in the development process. Lastly, the involvement of users in the development process eliminates misunderstanding and improves system quality (Hoffer, George, & Valacih, 2008).

On the other hand, JAD methodology can be a challenge if the organization is not prepared. Kendall and Kendall (2006) outline that coming up with a correct JAD session can be a problem. For instance, the wrong problem can be dealt with, the wrong individuals can be appointed as participants, and resources can be inadequate. This happens when proper study of the system is not performed, thus JAD is more expensive and cumbersome as compared to conventional methods. Besides, selecting employees to participate in collaborative workshops can be a challenge because every corner of the organization must be well represented in the development process. Another disadvantage is that the facilitator is faced with the challenge of ensuring that all participants have the opportunity to air their views.

RAD

RAD is a software development process, faster than JAD, which allows usable components to be built within a short period of 30 to 90 days. RAD development is used in situations where the business requirements for a system can be satisfied even when some of the operational requirements are not satisfied or in systems where the requirements are assessed against agreed minimum requirements other than all the requirements. In RAD the prototype becomes the basis for the new system hence the steps involved in this method are planning, design, development, and cutover (Hoffer, George, & Valacich, 2008).

The first advantage of RAD is that it promotes systems re-use and therefore development process is faster. This is due to the fact that prototyping helps in improving collaborative gathering of requirements. Second, RAD provides room for informal negotiation and the users cannot wait until 100% of the system is finished. This improves customer satisfaction. Third, the quality of the system is improved because it is the main focus of RAD. Quality is determined by both the rate in which the needs of customers are met as well as the degree of reduced maintenance costs. Quality is achieved through the inclusion of end users in the analysis and design stages.

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However, several advantages are associated with RAD. To begin with, RAD solutions may lack the scalability of a system that was developed as a completed application from the beginning because it focuses on prototyping. As compared to SDLC, RAD is not suitable for larger systems that require a lot of planning and analysis. If hard-and-fast goals for speed and cost are set, quality of the final application will suffer. Secondly, there may be a danger of misalignment of system developed via RAD with the business due to missing information on underlying business process. And thirdly, there can be difficulties with module reuse for future systems because features of applications are reduced with the aim of faster completion (Hoffer, George, & Valacich, 2008).

In conclusion, a company needs to have a clear understanding of its long-term and short-term information requirements through the incorporation of appropriate method in the implementation of information systems. Both JAD and RAD are good methodologies that can be used in developing small scale systems within a short time. However, JAD is seen as too expensive as compared to RAD which incorporates the concept of system reuse in the development process. Therefore, proper analysis of user requirements should be the main focus in the process of delivering high quality applications.

References

Hoffer, J.A., George, J.F., & Valacich, J.S. (2008). Modern Systems Analysis & Design. (5th Ed.). New Jersey: Prentice Hall.

Kendall, K.E. & Kendall, J.E. (2006). Systems Analysis and Design. New Jersey: Prentice Hall.

Laudon, K.C. & Laudon, J.P. (2006). Management Information Systems: Managing the Digital Firm. New Jersey: Prentice Hall.

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