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When to Use Rapid Application Development for Your Software & Why ?

rapid software development

Rapid Application Development, or the RAD model, is the most dynamic and responsive way of developing software. RAD stands out from other methods because it depends on the knowledge gained during the software development process. Hence, unlike the waterfall model, developers can use the knowledge gained during development. It enables them to promptly improve the product wherever required.

The process of rapid application development focuses on rapid prototyping, bypassing the traditional planning process. Development begins following a brief requirement analysis process. Then the developers jump-start the development process without wasting time in planning. In a RAD process, you can easily change the design, modify functionalities, and even remove elements without affecting the product.

How the Rapid Application Development Model Works

The rapid application development model comprises four major phases. All these phases are equally responsible for making the process fast, efficient, and robust.

Phase I: Requirement Planning
The requirement analysis and planning phase is significantly brief in rapid application development. However, it’s the crucial first step of the process. In this phase, developers, designers, the client, and project managers, and other research, analyze, and discuss the requirements. This step combines the planning and analysis phases of a traditional software development life cycle (SDLC).

Phase II: User Design
As soon as requirement planning is complete, the developers get into create the user design through multiple prototype iterations. This is the most labor-intensive step in the RAD software development method. Designers and developers work in collaboration to design and develop prototypes featuring system processes, inputs, and functionalities. This is an interactive step and the client gets to use all the prototypes.

Phase III: Rapid Construction
At the end of the user design phase, the team gets an approved prototype from the client/user. This prototype is swiftly converted into a working model for the construction of the software application. The user can suggest changes even during this phase. But since most issues and changes are made during the user design step, developers can now focus on construction.

Phase IV: Cutover
This is the final phase of rapid application development in which the finished software product is ready for launching in a live environment. This step is like the implementation stage of an SDLC. This phase includes data conversion, software testing, and user training, among other things.

Key Benefits of Using the Rapid Application Development Model

Speed & flexibility

Development speed and flexibility are hallmarks of the RAD model. A lot of time is saved by skipping the lengthy planning process. This means your development process doesn’t have to go through multiple strategy reviews and design planning. This further creates room for flexibility in terms of design and development.

Reduced Risks

RAD is focused on incremental changes to the system. This means the risks of a major failure are low. Even with a failure, the need for a fundamental redesign is less likely. Hence development projects using RAD are protected from such risks as product redesign and starting the development from the beginning.

Superior Quality

Rapid application development involves constant interaction with the client/user during prototype development. It helps the developers to create a product that precisely meets the users’ needs. The client can easily point out what they like and what they don’t. Besides, the continuous improvement boosts the usability of the software solution.

Independent Software Components

RAD is like object-oriented coding in terms of segregation of software components. In this process, components are separated from each other. That means designers and developers need to create components that are independently functional and easily modifiable. This further improves the overall efficiency of the development process.

Bug-free Products

Each software prototype undergoes rigorous testing before it reaches the user. This means testers need to find out the bugs earlier than traditional methods. Additionally, unit testing is thoroughly conducted in every rapid application development. The software product, therefore, exhibits significantly superior quality than traditional software development methods.

The RAD method of software development dramatically reduces development period. It also reduces risks and improves quality. However, like all other software development methods, RAD as has some shortfalls.

Disadvantages of Rapid Application development

  • The design of the product might have weaknesses since it gets a comprehensive planning.
  • RAD cannot be used for all kinds of projects. Especially, for large projects, it possesses multiple challenges, like design planning.
  • Software developed using RAD could have scalability issues in some instances. The prototype may be suitable for the current needs of the client. But it may not be as useful in the future when needs increase or change.
  • The development process demands frequent interaction with the client/ user. For some, it could be a significant obstacle.

Conclusion

Rapid application development is considered as one of the most efficient software development methods available. Its journey in the software industry spans more than three decades now. But it remains as relevant as it was during its early days. This model is highly recommended if you need to develop software in a very short turnaround time and can reliably test prototypes. Also, if your requirements are not fixed and could change frequently during development, RAD is the option you ought to pick.

FAQs

Q. What is Rapid Application Development used for?
Rapid application development (RAD) is a concept of software development which emphasizes working on software and being more adaptive. This development philosophy, introduced by James Martin in the 1980s, focuses on speed and used strategies such as prototyping, iterative development, and time boxing.

Q. What are the phases of RAD model?
Rapid application development of software comprises four phases: 
Phase I: Requirement Planning 
Phase II: User Design 
Phase III: Rapid Construction 
Phase IV: Cutover

Q. What are the RAD model advantages and disadvantages?
Advantages:

Flexible and adaptable to changes
It is useful when need to reduce the overall project risk       
Disadvantages:-
It can’t be used for smaller projects
Not all application is compatible with RAD

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