Rapid Application Development (RAD) is a term that has been in the IT industry for over a decade now and has gained popularity among the IT community. RAD is a methodology employed for software to be developed quickly and efficiently, without relying on the development models such as the waterfall model, which has a lack of flexibility and difficulty in changing functions and attributes once the software is built. The Rapid Application Development approach developed by James Martin is an alternative to the traditional waterfall model. Although it has been in the industry for some time, the popularity of the RAD approach is huge among those who are looking for dynamic methods of application development to suit their developing business and the requirements of the clients.
What do you call an agile software development methodology which gives priority to rapid prototype releases and iterations? Well, we can call it the Rapid Application Development (RAD) methodology. Now, what makes it different from the waterfall model? The answer is that RAD focuses on the feedback of users and the use of software for rigorous planning and recording of the requirements, which apparently makes it different from the waterfall model. The main advantage of a RAD methodology is the rapid project reversal, which makes it a perfect alluring choice for developers working in a post-haste field such as software development. This quick acceleration is made possible by RAD’s emphasis on increasing the development of prototypes and reducing the planning phase.
RAD enables project managers and shareholders to calculate the progress, precisely measure, and communicate in real-time about emerging issues or changes while reducing planning time and focusing on prototype iterations.
There are mainly 4 phases of rapid application development, which are explained below:
This is the first phase and is similar to that of a project scoping meeting. This phase is also a crucial step in determining the success of the project, though the planning stage is condensed when juxtaposed with other methods of project management. At this stage, developers, the customers or software users, and team members discuss the objectives of the project, expectations from the project, and existing and potential problems that have to be resolved during the development. This phase can be divided into:
Giving everyone an equal opportunity to communicate the aims and expectations for the project is very essential. Moreover, gaining the approval of shareholders and developers helps eliminate any kind of miscommunication.
Once you have dealt with the project planning phase, it is time to look into the development of user designs using different prototype iterations. This is the main ingredient in the RAD methodology. At this stage, the developers and clients work in coordination to make sure that their requirements are being fulfilled at each stage of the design process. This is like developing customized software that allows users to examine and ensure that each product’s prototype satisfies their requirements at each stage. The client examines the prototype designed by developers and then assembles it to discuss the feedback about the functioning. This process allows the developers to make changes in the model until they end up with a satisfactory result.
Here in this stage, the prototypes and beta systems from the previous phase get converted into functional models. Since most of the problems and changes were solved during the comprehensive iterative design phase, it is easy for developers to build the final working model faster, instead of going behind traditional project management models. This phase can be divided into:
At this stage, the software and applications are examined thoroughly to make sure that the goals and expectations of the clients are being met. This is a very important phase because the Clients can provide input all around this phase, suggesting changes or bringing new ideas that will solve the problem they may find.
This is the final stage of rapid application development and is also known as the implementation stage where the end product is introduced. In this stage, the developers resolve the technical debt incurred in initial prototyping and optimize deployment to enhance stability and preservability when finalizing the product for launch. This phase is divided into:
All the components will be sifted to a live production environment for extensive testing and training. The team members will finish documentation and final touch-up tasks before handing over the product to the client.
Some of the major benefits of RAD include:
It allows the developers to make alterations and changes during the development process until it meets the requirements of the clients.
Since the planning phase is shorter, it gives the team more time to focus on repetitive design construction and development.
This indicates less manual coding, fewer errors, and less trial time.
Shareholders can discuss and resolve weaknesses in the code as development processes continue.
As RAD takes feedback from clients at every stage, it facilitates a higher level of cooperation and coordination among shareholders and developers.
The task-based framework enables project managers to optimize the efficiency of the team by allocating tasks to team members based on their specifications and experiences.
Rapid application development is an approach that some companies find difficult to follow. It is not easy to incorporate Rapid Application Development software in your project if your organization depends on multiple teams working together for a single project. But if you have the ability to cycle fast between prototype and feedback, if you have developers who are capable of changing anything in an instant, then rapid application development is worth giving a try.