Re: JAD and the TW

Subject: Re: JAD and the TW
From: Suzy Davis <andavis -at- AU1 -dot- IBM -dot- COM>
Date: Sun, 15 Feb 1998 22:12:17 -0500

Hi Matt
I have attended a few JADs and facilitated Specification Review Working Parties
(before I was a technical writer).

I think it is great for tech writers to be involved in the JAD process, as
users are thinking about what they use a system for, but don't really
understand the technical scope, and the technical people including the
facilitator, are mostly thinking technically of system constraints etc.

A techwriter in the session is able to add some good ideas for the users (or
user reps), especially in those JADs where the client only has IT people
representing the views of the users!

If you want to facilitate JADs, I suggest you learn some systems analysis and
design, and take some meditation classes (for the pressure). You also need to
be able to think laterally and logically.

IMHO, JAD facilitators usually think they are great tech writers, and may have
produced some technical documentation (ie JAD docs, specs, and reports ), but I
have not encountered one who actually was a technical writer. The
documentation has to be very precise, and the facilitator has final
responsibility for the documentation of the processes defined in the JAD. If
the JAD is documented incorrectly and the error is not picked up early in the
development process (which is easy if everyone is working twenty hour days to
meet an implementation deadline) the ramifications can be very serious, and

Facilitators need to have a very good understanding of the technical issues
involved in the system being developed to minimise these errors. Also, if they
don't have an adequate technical understanding they will be suggesting things
in the JAD which the technical advisers will be stomping on all the way through
- which is not a good look in front of clients!

Generally the same facilitator facilitates all the JADs for a particular
system, and they are usually more techy than what I think the average
techwriter is. If a different faciliator is used, it is because the JAD is
focused on a particular area requiring more knowledge of a particular technical
specialty, and not less technical knowledge. There are JADs which are just
focused on user interfaces, and therefore, aren't as techy as the actual design
JADs, but I doubt that you would get a lot of work as a JAD facilitator
specialised in user interfaces. In ten years time you might though!

Hope this helps a bit.

Suzy Davis
Technical Writer

Internet: andavis -at- au1 -dot- ibm -dot- com
[Standard disclaimer]

02/12/98 04:07 PM
Please respond to mdanda2 -at- YAHOO -dot- COM @ internet

Subject: JAD and the TW

Hello All:

Lately I've learned of a new specialty for technical writing: Joint
Application Development (JAD).

Does anyone have any experience with this? My current employer seems
to use it a lot for writing requirements and analyzing business
processes, and they are hiring some high-dollar JAD facilitators who
also consider themselves technical writers.

I am wondering if this is a field worth investigating? I have thus far
been focusing my career on documentation in software development,
because of the superior job security and compensation, and now I'm
curious if becoming a TW/JAD Facilitator would offer
better/worse/similar rewards.


Matt Danda
Technical Writer Contracting for the Mouse
Orlando, FL
email: mdanda -at- yahoo -dot- com

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