Developing a software application was a tedious task until rapid application development was introduced. Unlike waterfall methodology, the RAD model eliminates the need for strict planning schedules and one can enjoy continuous iterations.
With that being said, developers do not have to start from scratch every time a client suggests a minute change.
However, the RAD app has been around for quite a long time, but how did it come up? Are there any advantages to using this methodology? What are the use cases of rapid application development? All of this is briefly discussed in this blog.
What is a Rapid Application Development model?
Rapid application development is a development model that aims to speed up prototyping and iteration process. It allows developers to roll out software updates and multiple iterations with minimal hassle.
The no-code app builder came to life when developers experienced effectiveness issues with the waterfall development model. First launched in 1991, is now evolved to meet the present technological requirements without compromising the basic development guidelines.
With reduced planning time and quick prototype iteration, managers can accurately measure the project progress. The real-time feedback feature to resolve issues eventually results in better communication, fast development, and improved efficiency.
Phases of Development
Even though the process of development has undergone changes in the past couple of years, the development model is majorly carried out in 4 strategic phases - defining the requirement, prototype development, feedback, finalizing and shipping.
Phase 1: Planning requirements
RAD model sets itself apart from all the other models right from the very beginning. Developers and stakeholders can quickly discuss the project scope and requirements to begin the prototyping process. Although the discussion in this phase is brief, stakeholders can share detailed requirements at different stages in the development process.
Phase 2: Prototype development
Once the project scope and requirements are measured developers jump right into prototype development. What sets this model apart from others is that both developers and stakeholders work hand in hand to come up with a satisfactory prototype. Often a beta version is released without proper polish simply to flaunt the unique features of the prototype.
Phase 3: Gathering feedback
In this stage, developers and clients come together to discuss everything that’s not going well in the prototype design. Keeping all these feedback in mind, developers resume the prototyping process. Moreover, this cycle of feedback and prototyping continues until the client is finally satisfied with the end result.
Phase 4: Finalising and shipping the prototype
In the final stage, last moment development related to aesthetics, features, and functions is finalized. Once the changes are done, the prototype is then shipped to the client.
Advantages of Rapid Application Development model
RAD is a popular development model with numerous advantages. However, it still needs improvement to effectively help large scale organizations. Below are a few advantages, both software developers and business individuals, can benefit from.
User feedback plays a significant role in building successful software. The RAD model prioritizes customer feedback to deliver an effective and efficient product. The end-user is involved throughout the development cycle which makes it easy to speed up the review process.
The turnaround time is shorter in the case of RAD, making it perfect for small teams and instantaneous projects.
Unlike other methods, RAD applications start the integration process right from inception. So, developers and users do not have to wait until the end of the development cycle for integration. Moreover, this can become an aid to identify and resolve integration problems in a shorter period of time.
One can build an application even with minimum knowledge about software development and coding.
The program lets you break your project into smaller, more manageable sections to increase productivity.
Since merest time is spent on planning, the fast iterative approach helps the team achieve more in a short time. Nonetheless, overall customer experience and satisfaction are never over-looked during the entire process.
Drawbacks of RAD methodology
No development method comes with zero flaws, and the RAD model is no exception. Although, the advantages outweigh the drawbacks to some extent, here are a couple of drawbacks that you might want to look at:
The RAD model is a go-to model when you have a small team as it requires strong collaborative efforts from each member. So, keeping up with the RAD model becomes difficult in the case of large teams.
RAD Model can be undertaken only when the projects have a specific timeline. In that case, companies need to start hiring an in-house development team for long-term associations.
The presence of end-users or stakeholders is required throughout the development cycle. Since only a brief description of requirements is discussed in the beginning, users need to provide a detailed description during the prototyping process.
Rapid Application Development Vs Agile Development Methodologies
It is a common misconception that RAD and agile methodologies are the same. Both models share similar values but are distinct in terms of delivery time, flexibility, and iteration process.
The RAD model primarily focuses on decreasing the delivery time by creating prototypes rapidly. Whereas agile methodologies break down the project into manageable features which are then transferred to various sprints.
Both agile and RAD models cut down the delivery time by keeping the process short and to the point. Besides, customer satisfaction is never compromised as the end-user is present throughout the development cycle.
Like the RAD model, the agile model of development comes with various limitations, one of which is lack of documentation. The agile model requires minimal documentation which can give rise to challenging situations for new developers in the team. Other than that, the development model is heavily dependent on customer interaction, and it is likely to go off track when the client is unclear about their requirements.
To sum up, both these models can be used to their best advantage by allocating them for varied projects. The RAD model can be used for urgent projects and small teams whereas an agile model can be used for projects with a larger team.
Does your team need a RAD Tool?
Even after having plenty of benefits, RAD might not be the right fit for you and your team. It is anyway perfect for many business processes, but you must consider key factors before implementation.
Here are some instances where the RAD model can offer you its full benefits:
- Meeting tight deadlines
The rapid application development model is undeniably your perfect partner when it comes to meeting tight deadlines. Having no time for the planning phase is exactly why you should turn to the on-the-fly approach.
- Have a budget problem
When compared to other development models, RAD turns out very inexpensive. Although this is not the case every time, there are certain instances where RAD can burn your pockets. Nonetheless, when you have a clear idea of the project requirements and tight budget, rapid application development is your best friend.
The rapid application development model is splendid for prototypes that need to be delivered quickly. It is also the best model to opt for when prototyping might have many changes during the development cycle. Knowledgeable developers and customer interaction are two key factors for the completion of the RAD model.
The no-code platforms can be tricky at first, but both developers and stakeholders will eventually get a handle on it. However, the success of the project depends on the manager's ability to outline a development plan and effectively communicate with all the parties involved.