How Rapid Application Development Benefits Your Business
When in need of new software, businesses typically depend on IT companies for development. And with the request numbers getting higher and higher, software development companies need to work faster and better, to meet the clients’ expectations. This is where rapid application development (rad) comes to play. The most important benefit of RAD is minimizing the planning stage of a project and focusing more on maximizing prototype development. But to get a better understanding of why RAD is such a popular option and if it is the right choice for the type for a specific situation, one must understand what RAD is and how it benefited the software development industry since its apparition.
What Is Rapid Application Development?
When the waterfall model struggled to keep up with the fast-changing world of software development, rapid application development came into play. RAD was build up based on James Martin’s Rapid Iterative Production Prototyping (RIPP) method, developed in 1991. RAD is a model that focuses on rapid prototype development and fast feedback, rather than planning and requirements recording. This allows developers to quickly update a software, without building a development plan every time, as opposed to the waterfall method, that makes it difficult to make certain changes in the program, once it reaches the testing phase. RAD really makes a difference when a product needs to be delivered fast, but still requires constant changes to adapt to the client’s needs, because they can test the product and discuss further adjustments, before purchasing the final software solution. The client is involved throughout all stages of RAD, from the planning to the final testing, making the end-result a collaborative work of both the developers and the buyer.
Rapid Application Development Phases
To narrow it down, there are four main phases of the RAD model:
- Planning: the first phase focuses on establishing the objectives and outlooks of the project, along with possible problems that may occur during the development. While this phase is significantly narrowed in RAD, as opposed to other methods, it is still an important step in the development process. Once the issues have been addressed and the approvals from the contributors have been received, the project can move to the next phase
- Designing: this is the phase where developers and clients work together to ensure the finished product meets the needs and expectations of the buyers. What sets the RAD method apart is that the clients can test each prototype of the product, at any stage of the development, to ensure their expectations are med entirely. Feedback is crucial in this phase, as it allows the developer to fix, in an iterative process, any kinds of bugs and issues the project might be facing, before it reaches the market.
- Construction: the third phase takes the beta models and prototypes from phase two and combines them into the final working model. With the majority of bugs and issues already sorted out in the previous phase, the developers can construct the final model much faster than if they were using a traditional strategy. During construction, the project goes from preparation to application development, coding, integration and culminates with system testing, ensuring the entire development team works together to satisfy the client’s expectations.
- Cutover: the last phase includes data conversion, continuous testing and transition to the new environment. The users that are going to benefit from the product are properly trained, while final details are added.
Why Businesses Choose RAD Projects
With all that in mind, it gets pretty easy to understand why companies prefer to work with RAD projects, in detriment of classic software development methods:
- Lower costs: as opposed to traditional approaches, RAD projects generate prototypes much faster, reducing the development costs. Because the process is repetitive, it allows the clients to evaluate the performance during the development process, cutting out unneeded elements.
- Faster development: getting the project done as fast as possible benefits both the client and the development company. RAD automates the coding for various functions, like filtering, list viewing or searching, this way reducing the time spent on development.
- New technology addition: while in a waterfall project, adding a new technology that might help is close to impossible. With RAD, the latest technology can quickly be added, tested and implemented
- Eliminates bugs: using automation tools, the developer can make the project more reliable, eliminating bugs and providing a long-term supported code.
- Faster delivery: competitiveness is key in the business industry and being able to release the product on the market faster, even if it’s in a beta version, can place one company in front of the competitors. RAD allows and encourages this option.
- Client involvement: RAD projects rely on feedback, thus involving the end client and end user in the development process. This way the final product is more likely to suit the business’ needs.
How to Determine If RAD Is Right for You
While RAD is effective in a large number of projects, a number of factors need to be taken into consideration, when deciding to implement it. The RAD process is quite demanding and requires a team that is dedicated to the ongoing process, has experience regarding the method and is focused on making the required changes when feedback is given. While the commitment of the development team is crucial, the team on your end should also be focused on meeting the required deadlines for communication and feedback, to smooth the process. Keep in mind that RAD typically does not work well with smaller projects, because it requires quite a substantial investment in both human resources and tools. Another disadvantage is that RAD requires little to no documentation, so the progress can be harder to track. RAD is perfect for your project if you are looking for quick prototype results, where the systems require to be broken down into different units or frequent changes are expected to happen during the development process.