To survive and succeed in a competitive environment, businesses must deliver software projects of the highest quality, with the lowest cost, and the shortest amount of time. Getting there requires the right amount of planning, the right human and technology resources, and selecting the right development methodology.
One of the most popular development models is the Rapid Application Development (RAD) model. It uses agile software development, user feedback, and rapid iteration to generate maximum results in the shortest amount of time. As the “rapid development” name implies, this methodology favors rapid prototyping and building over successive versions over creating and following a detailed plan.
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Some of the benefits of RAD include:
- Flexibility: The development process is not linear, and therefore adjustments can be made quickly.
- Independent components: The usage of “units” simplifies the overall development process.
- Versioning: Continuous iteration and reviews optimize the speed and resources for development.
- Testing: Regular testing reduces errors and the risk of making costly development mistakes.
- Speed: With less need for planning and greater user involvement, the development period is shortened.
- Client satisfaction: There’s a constant line of communication between client and developer.
Why should you use Rapid Application Development?
In essence, Rapid Application Development is about making use of rapid prototyping and doing away with time-consuming design planning processes. It’s particularly useful if short turnaround time, frequent feedback, changes, and adherence to client requirements are of prime importance.
The 4 steps in Rapid Application Development
While practices and methodologies vary, the main principles of rapid application development are present in all development projects using the model. They include:
This step is relatively brief, but its purpose is to get the executive and development teams with stakeholders to define the project scope. Once these preliminary requirements, such as the goals, deliverables, timelines, and costs, are identified, teams can proceed to the next step.
Once the project is loosely defined, developers start designing and validating multiple prototype iterations. This might be resource-intensive, but it’s a collaborative process where the client can test these prototypes and offer their feedback.
Building the product
When the best prototype is selected, the development team can begin work on the final product. This process makes use of client feedback and software testing to ensure everything works as expected. As many issues get ironed out early on, the development process speeds up towards the end of this stage.
Finalizing the product
This is the final stage when the product is ready to launch. Further testing and additional changes can be conducted, including training, onboarding, etc. In other cases, developers can further tweak the project to improve usability and stability.
Rapid Application Development considerations
Developers should consider the pros and cons of any software methodology they choose to implement. While the advantage of faster development speed, product quality, and client satisfaction is evident, the RAD is not practical for all applications, especially for those with low budgets, small teams, and a lack of commitment to iterate and deliver on their promises.
Here are some reasons you might want to use the Rapid Application Development model for your business:
When time-to-market is of prime importance
One of the big advantages of RAD methodology is that it practically eliminates the need to perform preliminary design and project planning. And, since RAD methodology makes use of agile development elements, the time to build the first iteration of your product is greatly shortened. The result is a go-live date that’s sooner and a project that meets client requirements.
When you need to test and refine your product
The RAD approach makes it easy to evaluate new versions of your product and change direction if required. This is particularly important for developers looking to test their work on a wide variety of users. Organizations need the ability to collect and implement feedback over a lengthy development cycle so that it’s adequately reflected in the finished product.
When you have the organizational structure
Even though RAD development is relatively easy and cost-effective, it’s not for everyone. Teams that are siloed or ill-equipped to working concurrently on separate areas of the project may find RAD unsuitable for their needs. To better prepare, they must emphasize collaboration, early software delivery, and further development during later stages of the project.
Rapid Application Development Tools
Now that you’ve learned about the RAD model, what’s next?
Rapid Application Development is a development methodology that is quickly gaining in popularity due to its flexibility and ability to adapt to changing environments. Thankfully, there are many tools assisting with prototyping, iteration, development, and integrations.
The most important of these tools help turn your ideas into reality: the rapid application development platform. Look for a platform that facilitates quick development through low-code elements, is extendable, easy to integrate, and scale. The right platform will help you develop solutions in the shortest time, with minimal errors, and according to client requirements.