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What is Rapid Application Development? Why & When Should You Use It?

What is Rapid Application Development? Why & When Should You Use It?

When building a skyscraper, you can’t change the design halfway through. Thanks to RAD, you don’t have to worry about this in software development. However, fluctuating market conditions force the software development landscape to change frequently. Therefore, it makes it even more critical to use development models that are efficient & flexible right from the design phase.

Rapid Application Development (RAD) was created to solve the issue of switching applications. RAD helps rapidly develop prototypes for testing functions and features without worrying about any effects on the end product. With RAD, you can change the design, add/ remove functionality, and clean it up by removing all the extra fluff you don’t want without harming the end product. 

 

  • But how did this model come to light? 
  • How does this model work?  
  • What are the advantages of adopting RAD?  
  • When do you work on the Rapid Application Development software? 
  • This blog has tried to pin down answers to all these questions. 

 

We have tried to pin down answers to all these questions in this blog. 

What is Rapid Application Development?

Rapid Application Development is an agile software development model that came into existence in the 1980s. Its invention directly resulted from the drawbacks of regressive traditional development models such as the Waterfall Software Development Model. One of the significant flaws in the waterfall model was that once the software entered the testing phase, it became complicated to alter its core functions and features. Ultimately, you end up with software that may or may not fit your evolving requirements. RAD was the first development model to challenge this.

RAD is a progressive development model emphasizing rapid prototyping and speedy feedback over a lengthy development and testing cycle. This model allows developers to make multiple iterations and updates to software quickly, without the need to restart a development schedule from scratch every time. The overall concept behind this methodology is to treat software projects like clay rather than steel. RAD is quickly becoming a necessity, thanks to the volatile market conditions and competitive marketplace.

In a nutshell, RAD enables low-code rapid application development through which businesses can roll out new applications faster.

As you may have realized, even though the model’s discovery was long back, it holds significant relevance in today’s competitive marketplace, where technology is changing faster than ever!

RAD is the call of the hour for digital transformation in 2018.

How is Agile different from RAD?

Agile was introduced much later than RAD; it is relatively more evolved and popular.

Unlike RAD, Agile emphasizes more on its models and ideal work environment. On the other hand, RAD is a much more elastic model. It focuses more on the quality of the outcome rather than the techniques and timeframe used for delivery. Hence, organizations that still need well-established Agile models usually prefer RAD as their ideal development model.

In either case, there is a significant emphasis on early and continuous software delivery and room for changing requirements even in the later stages of development.

Discover the truth about Agile in this FREE GUIDE! 

How does it work?

RAD follows 4 main phases –

1. Requirements planning

This methodology’s planning phase is relatively compressed compared to other methods. Nevertheless, this is a critical step for the project’s ultimate success. In this phase, developers, users, and other team members connect to determine the goals and expectations for the project. They also discuss the current and potential challenges that must be addressed during development.

 

It is imperative at this stage that everyone involved in the project has the opportunity to evaluate the goals and expectations and make required suggestions. In addition, it helps to avoid expensive change orders and miscommunication.

2. User Design

User design is the main course of the RAD methodology—and what sets it apart from other project management strategies.

 

Once the project scope is chalked out, it’s time to dive into development. First, the user design is built through various prototype iterations.

 

During this phase, users/clients join forces with the developers to ensure that their requirements are met at every step in the design process. It’s practically customizable software development where the developer designs a prototype, the user tests it, and then they collaborate on what worked and what didn’t. Ultimately, the developers and the clients work together to ensure that there is no gap for something to slip through the cracks.

3. Rapid Construction

The prototypes and beta systems designed in the previous phase are converted into working models in this phase. Since working models address most glitches and changes during the iterative design phase, it becomes easier and quicker for developers to construct the final working model. Nonetheless, the client can still give input anytime during the process and suggest modifications, adjustments, or even new ideas that can solve problems as they arise. The product is worked upon by developers, programmers, coders, and testers until the final product meets the client’s expectations and objectives.

4. Cutover

The finished product is implemented and goes for launch in this phase. During this stage, all the final changes are practiced, such as data conversion, testing, and changeover to the new system. User training impartation becomes crucial during this phase.

Pros of Rapid Application Development

While there are several benefits of using the Rapid Application Development method, we’ve highlighted a handful of the most critical ones when considering whether RAD is the right choice for your next project.

  • Rapid, Constant User Feedback: There is nothing more valuable for a developer than obtaining relevant user feedback during software development. The RAD method makes way for almost continual feedback via recurrent iterations and prototype releases, giving the entire team invaluable evaluation and criticism at the right time.
  • Quantifiable Progress: Frequent iterations can measure components and prototypes released, the progress of the overall projects, and the independent components quickly. Adjustments can be made wherever required to maintain schedules and budgets. 
  • Segregation of Software Components: Like in object-oriented software design practices in which components are quarantined from one another, RAD has a beneficial impact by compelling the designers and developers to create independently functional components. In RAD, each element within the software is categorized and easily modified autonomously as the needs of the software evolve.
  • Simple Adaptability: During development in RAD, the software is in a malleable form, meaning programming codes can be changed to alter the entire software system or generate new components dramatically. The development team should take advantage of this flexibility early by iterating and prototyping potential concepts or ideas to belt out immaculate software eventually.
  • Quickly Generate Productive Code: Many active software developers are rapidly upgrading skillsets and moving into multidisciplinary roles, such as Full-stack developers. RAD helps such developer teams to quickly produce prototypes and work on code to demonstrate examples that may otherwise take weeks or months to see the light of day.

Cons of Rapid Application Development

Although the benefits of RAD may outweigh its disadvantages, no flawless software development method exists. Therefore, let’s examine a few barriers you will most likely encounter when implementing RAD into a new project.

  • Requires flexible systems: Since RAD requires each component within the software to be alterable and testable on its own, the overall system design requires that each component be flexible and allow elements to be swapped or altered by diverse team members.
  • Difficulty to manage with large-scale projects: Although RAD gives far greater flexibility during the design and development phase compared to most other development models, it also tends to reduce control and restrictions. While this isn’t fundamentally negative, managing this added flexibility and unpredictability within the scope of the whole project can be quite a challenge, especially in the case of larger applications.
  • Demands frequent interactions with the user:  It is highly beneficial to gain user insights and feedback early and often in the design and development phase. However, it is a double-edged sword that requires the team to be willing and able to communicate with users much more frequently. 

So, when Can You Use Rapid Application Development?

  • When You Need a Project Done Quickly
    Rapid Application Development is your best bet when you’ve got a tight deadline to meet or are under pressure to deliver something that works. Opting for RAD saves you time that you would otherwise need to go through a long requirement planning and design phase. With RAD, you can take an on-the-fly approach, which can change the direction of the development efforts on a dime.
  • When You Can Reliably Test Your Prototypes
    Got a pool of users who can consistently provide reliable feedback on your prototypes? - Rapid Application Development is your go-to method. Prototypes built through the Rapid Application Development Model depend on feedback from previous iterations, so reliable feedback from dependable sources is massively helpful.
  • When You’ve Got the Budget
    The Rapid Application Development method is relatively inexpensive compared to the other development models. However, there are instances where RAD can be expensive. Sometimes you may need to hire technology experts and give them fitting salaries, but on the brighter side, if you’ve got the staff, you can develop your idea much quicker than any other model.

Regardless of whether you’ve just jumped onto the bandwagon or are looking to make that first move, there’s no doubt that with the right team and dedicated stakeholders, the RAD model can advance project competencies, yield timely and increase client satisfaction multifold.

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