Over the years, software development methodologies have evolved to be more efficient. Nowadays new methods are being adopted, existing ones are being twisted to fit the requirements, and so on. Rapid Application Development is a kind of application development model that requires rapid prototyping, and frequent iterations and is based on continuous feedback.
Rapid Application Development is not something new, it has been there since the 1990s but has been relatively unpopular until the past decade. Speed is the requirement of every business today, and the RAD model of application development, as the name suggests, results in faster development in comparison to the traditional Waterfall Method.
The Rapid Application Development Model allows developers to make frequent iterations to the software based on the feedback received from the client rapidly, and make changes and updates to the existing, development application without starting from scratch each time to make a change as it is with the Waterfall Method. The waterfall method of application development doesn’t allow for changes once the software has moved into the testing phase and consequently a less evolved software is delivered to the client.
The growing need for applications by businesses is creating undue pressure upon software developers and IT teams across the globe. The requirements of businesses are continuously evolving with corresponding changes in the market forces and the business environment. When such changes translate into change requirements in the software and IT systems, it becomes difficult for IT teams to keep pace with the enterprises.
Rapid Application Development is a feedback-centric approach to software development. It focuses on collecting customer feedback at every step of the development process and unlike traditional methods of development where customers are required to send in all of their requirements at the start of the development, the customer is actively involved throughout the development process in the RAD model. It does not follow any strict development time frames and continuous iterations throughout the cycle restrict the chances of non-conformity to user requirements and the software is delivered faster, saving on time as well as money.
A typical Rapid Application Development cycle consists of four phases:
In the first step of Rapid Application Development, much like scoping in a traditional development cycle, the customer is asked for a broad set of requirements. Requirements include their vision of the application, expectations, time frames, budgets, etc. The requirements are not detailed in nature but provide a ground for application prototype development that can be modified and evolved into a fully functional application with continuous iterations in the later stages. This step in a RAD model can be considered the planning stage where all the stakeholders discuss the application to be developed and ensure that they are on the same page.
Once the requirements have been set out, more like the project scope, the developers move on to the development of a working prototype application with just enough features and functions as fast as possible. This prototype design is developed according to the requirements stated in the first phase. This prototype is then demonstrated to the customer, who is then encouraged to suggest changes and modifications. This process of prototyping is repeated as many times as is required until the application is evolved, following continuous iterations and changes to the prototype.
In this stage, rapid application development takes place in full swing. Since most of the customer concerns and feedback are addressed during the Prototyping stage, the development takes place faster than a traditional development process. The development is carried out on a Low-Code No-Code platform like WEM allows for more rapid development, integrations, testing, etc.
This step is also repeated as many times as necessary involving the customer in the development, showcasing application demonstration, and iterating according to the feedback received until a fully functional application is developed. Testing is carried out throughout this process, client input is received at every stage, and alterations and changes are carried out to improve the application as per the requirements of the customer.
In this final phase of the Rapid Application Development, the application is moved on to a live environment and the final launch of the application takes place. Full-scale testing begins in this stage to identify any product bugs. Product training is also carried out in this stage wherever necessary and the other documentation is prepared for the final product.
All the other maintenance tasks are completed, and implementation is carried out, before launching the product. The final application is then handed over to the client.