Developmental Disabilities Association


The Developmental Disabilities Association’s (DDA) mission is to enable people with developmental disabilities to achieve their full potential. In 1952, twelve parents of children with developmental disabilities came together to work towards integrating their children into public schools. By the 1990’s, that parent group – called the Vancouver-Richmond Association for Mentally Handicapped People – had become Canada’s largest charitable society of its kind west of Toronto. In 1998, recognizing changes in society, the wishes of its members, and its expanded role in the community, the Association changed its name. It is now the Developmental Disabilities Association. The Developmental Disabilities Association serves over 1500 children and adults and operates more than 50 community programs.


Through their experiences of helping the developmentally disabled, the DDA had invented a model for planning and costing the services provided to their clients. This manual costing and planning system was unique enough to be patented in North America. To take advantage of this patent, DDA wanted to develop a software application that would not only allow them to manage plans for their own clients, but also offer an expert software solution to the North American health-care sector. The DDA had the knowledge of what needed to be done and the patent, but they needed help defining the software application requirements that would automate the process and provide for the storage of planning and costing data.

The challenge presented to the JDQ 3Spheres team was to define and document a detailed requirements specification for the proposed application such that planning and accountability could be spread to the social services and community health care fields.  JDQ was to anticipate, innovative user interface mockups, solid data privacy controls, high performance, and an industry standard API.


The JDQ 3Spheres team consisted of staff and volunteers who had worked in the non-profit, Social Support & Health Care and software application development sectors. The dedicated team worked with DDA to evaluate the needs of the application and presented comprehensive documentation of the requirements for the patented planning and costing system. The team offered an unbiased view of the potential success of the software application and the effort required to make it happen. The application requirements allowed DDA to not only evaluate 3rd party competition in the area, but also provided a clear requirements document for the next phase of design and development. The team provided a cost estimate for a custom software application development and that in turn provided the Executive Director of the DDA, Alanna Hendren, the information she needed to get approval from the board to move ahead with the development of the application.


The result was a 50+ page detailed requirements specification that defined the use cases and data requirements to make the software application a reality and an accurate cost estimate for the development of the application. Throughout the JDQ Jump!Start™ Requirements Discovery process, the DDA expressed their satisfaction with the 3Spheres process and team. Alanna Hendren, DDA Executive Director, said: “When triple-bottom line businesses like JDQ meet socially enterprising non-profits like DDA, people’s lives change.  Our work so far with JDQ has been exciting and surprisingly painless, considering that we are not a high tech organization.”
The Requirements Discovery process exposed many hidden requirements and the DDA gained a significant understanding what was ahead on their ”custom software application” journey.

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