Can Rapid Application Development (RAD Software Development) and Lean Software Development Models Work Together for Your Business?

Author: James
June 17, 2022
Can Rapid Application Development (RAD Software Development) and Lean Software Development Models Work Together for Your Business?


There are numerous software development models suited for developing different types of systems or applications, based on your organization’s specific needs. Choosing the right model is crucial to deliver to attain goals and to deliver the expected results within a set duration. To select the right approach to develop your software, you need to understand the differences between the standard software development models out there.

In this blog, we dive deeper into two widely used software development models: Rapid Application Development (RAD) software development and Lean software development methodology, the approach followed by each, and how a combination of both methods could benefit your business.

What is Rapid Application Development (RAD) software development and how does it work?

Also known as Rapid Application Building (RAB), is one of the adaptive software development approaches which evolved to challenge the traditional Waterfall development practices. The Waterfall method is less flexible, plan-driven, and operates via sequential phases. RAD software development is a means of modifying the production and development cycle to encourage frequent prototype releases and prioritizes faster delivery of products.

RAD software development model places less emphasis on planning and more on the adaptive process. It focuses on rapid prototyping and user feedback over the process and expenditure of planning and listing requirements.

While RAD software development asserts that reactive development is more efficient compared to defining specifications, it reduces the emphasis on rigid planning. The RAD software development model involves some specific steps which can be broadly classified into the following four phases:

What are the principles of RAD Software Development methodology?

1. Sketch out the project requirements

Figuring out and finalizing the scope of the project and what it is supposed to accomplish is the first stage. In this step, an outline of the required elements is done since the key principle of RAD software application is the authorization to modify the needs at any point in the cycle. Post the decision and designing of an outline, all the users, developers, designers, IT staff members, and managers discuss and agree on business needs, project scope, timeline, estimated budget, constraints, and system requirements.

2. Get started on prototyping

Under a RAD software development model, the software team can start developing a prototype according to project requirements. At this point, user interactions are analyzed to develop models and prototypes that replicate the processes, inputs, and outputs. As RAD software development is an iterative process, this part of the development model can occur more than once and is encouraged to move at a faster pace than the processes that come next.

Efforts are put in by designers and developers to build working models of the system that meet the requirements of the client. User feedback is majorly used to determine the system’s architecture. The step of gaining feedback and modifying the prototype is a step that is repeated multiple times in Rapid Application Development methodology. Prototype formation and user feedback is an interactive loop within the cycle to understand, modify, and ultimately approve a prototype of the system that meets the customer’s needs.

3. Rapid Construction

Under RAD software development, post user design, and prototyping, testing your product is key. The actual application coding, testing, and integration take place during the construction phase. Users continue to participate and suggest changes or improvements while actual screens or reports are being developed. A RAD software development model incorporates client feedback as the backbone of modifications to the main prototype. According to the requirements of clients, the model is modified, tested, and retested to meet the goals of the project.

4. Transition to launch

This is similar to the implementation phase in SDLC which involves data conversion, testing, the transition to the new system, and user training. Under rapid application development techniques, testing is done until all features meet client expectations. The development team moves the components to a live production environment to conduct full-fledged testing. Training sessions are imparted to the team as required.

The Rapid Application development phase explanation indicates how it gives any organization the power to focus exclusively on customer demand and requests. Being extremely customer-centric, the software team must be dynamic and report to constant modifications to thrive on a Rapid Application Development methodology.

What is Lean Software Development and how does it work?

Lean software development emphasizes optimizing efficiency and minimizing waste in software development. In this case, the waste in lean development methodology is the additional usage of resources and time that is not prescribed according to the model. In layman terms, lean software development encourages focus on the minimum viable product. A basic feature-rich application is deployed, to further develop and modify over time based on user feedback.

Lean software development methodology had its origins in the manufacturing industry, pioneered by Toyota’s Production System that identified and reduced wastes to improve overall customer value. The lean software development service streamlined production by offering a robust conceptual framework, practices, and values derived from experience which makes it an integral part of the agile community. Lean aims to streamline every aspect of the software development lifecycle by managing wastes at all levels to improve production efficiency.

What are the principles of lean software development?

As lean software development focuses on streamlining the process and removing any activity that does not ultimately affect the final product, an insight into Lean software development principles include,

1. Eliminating waste

Waste elimination is the guiding principle in lean software development. Anything that doesn’t add value to the customer such as unnecessary data, issues with quality is part of wastes that should be recognized and removed. Waste in lean software development methodology also includes additional processes, wait time, product defects, partially done work, and so on.

2. Amplifying learning

Another important lean software development principle is amplified learning. Cross team applicable, short sessions help developers get the gist of user feedback in a lean software development model, instead of detailed documentation and exhaustive planning. Lean software development method encourages gathering user feedback through short sessions. Testing and trying codes in iteration could lead to new ideas by throwing more light into domain problems.

3. Debate and decide approach

There is always some uncertainty associated with software development, but better results can be achieved through the “options-based” approach. Lean software development principles include the rule that decisions should be based on facts and not on vague assumptions. When decisions arise through facts, it gives more ability to adapt to changes. This reduces the chances of mistakes being discovered post-project release which may add to costs and affect the quality of product delivered.

3. Ensure faster delivery

Businesses over time have switched from longer planning to shorter planning and faster execution. Lean Software Development meets the ever-growing demands of this generation’s customers by maximizing the efficiency of production. The MVP strategy works on the principle that decisions can be delayed, but not the delivery of the model with required functionalities to get user feedback.

4. Empowering teamwork

The lean software development model follows the agile principle of channeling in expert and good talent and encouraging them to work effectively by the provision of a collaborative, developer-friendly atmosphere. It is an important aspect of lean software development principles as beyond receiving a list of tasks assigned to them, people need motivation, access to resources, and a practical purpose to work for. This will motivate them to stay committed and deliver their best in a well-established team.

5. Aim for customer loyalty and integrity

A customer’s perception of integrity is based on their whole experience of the system you have designed, developed, and delivered, its intuitiveness, its price, and how well it could solve the customer’s problems. In lean software development, the emphasis is on the delivery of a product that does the part of customer satisfaction. This helps the business gain customer loyalty as well.

6. Optimize the bigger picture

Lean Software development doesn’t happen in silos. The concept of each team’s goal to finish tasks is scrapped, and instead, lean development is a sum of many tasks- small and big- performed at different stages of development. It is also a result of the multiple interactions that occur between different vendors, teams, and components. Optimizing the whole process increases the speed of value and product delivery. Lean development methodology focuses on bringing a sense of shared responsibility among the team.

Does your team need a RAD Software Development model?

It’s not necessary that the RAD Software development model works the same for every project and hence shouldn’t be used indiscriminately. Based on rapid application development methodology examples, you can use the RAD approach post questioning your organization’s goals in specific scenarios like the following:

  • Do you have to create a working application quicker due to a tight deadline?

  • Is your client constantly available to document and discuss the process regularly with feedback for all processes?

  • Do you want to eliminate the chances of expensive errors found during later stages of testing and deployment?

  • Do you have the budget to hire technology experts for RAD software development who are dynamic and flexible with the idea of modifications to prototypes and are committed to user experience?

Does your team need a Lean Software Development model?

Under lean development methodology, developers focus on eliminating waste and improving the delivery of consistent value to customers. While no model emerges as superior, and a combination of both is recommended, organizations can use lean software development under scenarios that include,

  • Is each team member willing to participate in the process rather than just in siloes?

  • Can your team focus on the creation of the MVP in a limited time?

  • Does your team have a fixed budget for the creation of the product?

  • Can your team collaborate effectively to optimize production?

Is Lean Software development an alternative to RAD Software Development?

Many software development companies resort to Lean methodology when they find RAD too expensive to fulfill their requirements. What makes Lean development methodology desirable for many is its ability to focus on reducing waste throughout a project. The lean model allows you to scrap unwanted features at an earlier stage and places your team’s autonomy on your customer’s needs.

So, is the answer to use one methodology, or combine both? Combining Rapid Application Development with Lean Software Development is best-of-breed because if one focuses on rapid prototyping based on user feedback, the other is keen on working on a smaller budget by reducing waste. RAD software development offers a flexible and adaptive development experience when Lean makes the development process highly sustainable.

How RAD software development and Lean Software Development work for industries

It’s interesting to note the way SMBs use rapid application development principles and lean models together. Take the case of an enterprise’s IT team that is developing an employee onboarding application. They could start the process using RAD software development, where they sit and discuss with the company’s management, HR, recruitment, and onboarding team and develop something close to what they require. Then using lean development, the new application can be optimized to perform the way it should.

A case in point is Genpact’s addition of Mendix to its partner ecosystem. Genpact is a global leader in digitally-powered business process management and services. The organization is well-known for its “Lean Digital approach” that’s powering its digital transformation. Mendix is a leading application platform-as-a-service (PaaS) provider, recognized for its “low code rapid application development model” that allows businesses to collaborate, innovate, differentiate, streamline costs, and deliver new applications faster. By adding Mendix to its partner ecosystem, Genpact aims to develop an innovative solution for improving model compliance operations.

Another case of linking Rapid application development methodology and Lean software development comes from healthcare. One of the primary challenges faced by clinicians is that they have limited input in the fundamental decisions on care delivery.

Very often, initial decisions are taken based on the existing facilities that they have. Various studies reveal that 30 to 40 percent of healthcare production is waste and rapid prototyping is a method that can enable healthcare providers to eliminate waste and streamline operations during a project.

RAD software development and lean Software development: Getting Started

As businesses grow over time, a particular aspect they shift towards is customer demand. Demands of customers have evolved to the point where desktop and web application development have now given way to mobile app development and the cloud. When the project requirements get sophisticated, you need a highly optimal application development model or a lucrative combination of models to accomplish the feat.

At Toobler, we ensure a personalized, detailed overview of the methodologies and one-on-one consultations to determine the method that best fits your business. Our expert consultants and development teams at Toobler understand your organization’s goals and gaps to be bridged, and we optimize the software development life cycle accordingly, for a fresh start towards achieving your business’s goals.

Talk to our expert now!