Rapid application development in 2022- Definition, phases, and advantages

August 30, 2022
Rapid application development in 2022- Definition, phases, and advantages


The journey from planning a product to its deployment is different for each project or organization. Back when the waterfall method of software development was popular, there was a linear process from start to end. Developers emphasized rigid planning and followed a linear path until deployment.

But in this fast-paced world where customer needs are the top priority, the disadvantages of the waterfall method were evident. This form of traditional deployment only catered to customer opinions post-deployment, which was not feasible for the organizations of today.

To address the shortcomings of the waterfall model, Rapid application development was developed in 2001 by James Martin. It is an effective approach to project management. The focus in this form of software development is on the final model and the iteration rather than emphasizing rigid planning.

So, how does RAD go beyond design, development, testing and delivery?

What is rapid application development?

Rapid app development does not focus on a linear process to provide the consumer with the final product. Instead, this software development methodology shares several prototypes of the product with the customer for feedback. This feedback is then incorporated repeatedly until a product that best meets the customer's needs is proposed.

This reduces the amount of effort needed to resolve customer requirements. When feedback is incorporated at every stage, the end product is optimised to match customer needs. Rapid application development involves collaboration between teams, gathering of feedback, and software modifications done accordingly, leading to faster and more effective deployment.

The principles of rapid application development

The RAD model in software engineering involves five general steps. The nature of rapid application development makes it suited for larger projects and ones that require more attention to detail. The main principles of RAD methodology include

1. Sketch out project requirements

The client or stakeholders hold a discussion with the developers to map out the project requirements. It is a collaborative effort that requires feedback from the clients as well as the developers taking on the project. Project requirements such as the idea for the MVP (Minimum Viable Product), the estimated time, deadlines, and project requirements on a stage-by-stage basis are decided.

However, the project requirements are flexible and are not rigid as in a waterfall model. A rough draft of the idea can be approved by the management, prior to moving on to the next step in the RAD model phases.

2. Draft prototype

The prototype or the minimum viable product (MVP) is created at this stage, in Rapid app development. Designers and developers work together to decide on a rough blueprint that is modified throughout the software development process. Clients' feedback is taken note of and implemented while working on the minimum viable product.

3. Implement user feedback

This is the step where rough blueprints or drafts are converted into working models. Clients may discover that in some cases, the prototypes may not work, or suggest changes. Any desired changes by the clients lead to the developers going back to step 2 in the RAD model phases. This helps implement changes and then shift to the next step.

Since the developers can address most user feedback and issues in the draft prototype stage, the working model is delivered faster. Only when feedback is strictly positive, the developers move on to the next phase.

4. Finalize the product

Finalizing the product is the last stage where developers ensure that all the necessary feedback is implemented. In this phase, the product is moved to a live environment where testing occurs to identify any product bugs present.

At this phase, the post-deployment maintenance and performance is assessed by the developers prior to handing the application over to the client. This ensures that there are no immediate security issues, bugs to deal with, or any documentation left incomplete. This leads to an all-around inspection of the final product prior to usage by the client.

Advantages and disadvantages of Rapid Application Development

A flexible development cycle that allows developers to make changes as per customer requirementsProper organization and conductance is necessary, as the entire process depends on constant communication between developers and clients
Reduces overall project risk as bugs and code vulnerabilities are extensively checked prior to deployment Suitable for component-based projects and not for long term, feature rich projects
The advantages of RAD model are best suited for projects that involve customer collaboration and feedbackClient may wish to check the prototype with each new progress or release, leading to frequent iterations and prototypes, which may be tedious in applications that are feature packed
Potential concepts are iterated and prototypes throughout development, leading to compartmentalization and code reusabilityRequires a smaller, technically strong team that may have to be outsourced in case of clients with strict deadlines
Time spent on manual coding is reduced, helping with release of the product into the market faster Documentation is completed in the final phase in RAD methodology, which can make problems or progress harder to track
With thorough commitment to stakeholder needs, the Rapid Application Development model improves software quality and works to attain highest stakeholder satisfaction Not universally suitable, and works well for low risk, low feature packed projects
A technically strong, yet smaller team is ideal for RAD model in software engineering The stakeholder needs to be co operative and on the same page for the process to work smoothly

When should your team go for Rapid Application Development?

Here's the truth. Rapid Application Development model may not be the best fit for every team or every project. Sometimes you may need to develop a mobile app or sometimes a sophisticated software. It has certain requirements or a development environment that it works the best on. In that case, the RAD model can benefit your development process. Here are some options to consider before going for the RAD software process model,

  • Consider RAD methodology only when your organization has the budget for it. Rapid Application Development requires a technically talented team. Even when the number of people is less, funding this talent is a requirement regardless of how the project is

  • When the project has a short deadline and isn't feature-packed. The project must also have a dedicated and interactive client, open to feedback at all stages.

  • When the risk of the project is less. Having a project with higher risk and choosing the RAD model may not be feasible

  • When the project can have components that are individually functional, this speeds up the process of delivering prototypes whenever there are new updates

The advantages of the RAD model solve a plethora of issues that were present with the waterfall model. With traditional models, once they were moved to the testing phase, reiterating or making changes to the core functions and features required manual work and a longer timeline. It also led to clients being dissatisfied with the process and the duration. But, with the Rapid Application Development model, there's consistent feedback that ensures that the final outcome is tailored to the stakeholder's requirements.

Should your team go for a Rapid Application Development model?

Globally, RAD has become an increasingly popular form of software development. But this doesn't mean that your organization must start adapting it. Based on your requirements, feasibility and an assessment of whether RAD works for your project/client, your organization will form a RAD approach. Switching to a RAD model has its own set of advantages along with addressing the drawbacks of traditional development models.

Looking to learn more about Rapid Application Development prior to switching? Reach out to us at Toobler for a chat with our expert team on how to build a RAD and how it can benefit your team!