Rapid Application Development: Pros and Cons

Custom Application Development Company | Business Software

The rapid application development model grants businesses across industries a collaborative and responsive approach to project management. The rapid application development model works particularly well with software and app development, turning out quality products in a short amount of time when compared to other development models. If your company is in need of custom solutions to streamline and simplify processes, read on to see how this rapid application software development methodology can help.

Key Takeaways:

  • The RAD model is an efficient, flexible development process that offers a low-risk approach to customized software opportunities for a number of industries.
  • More effective integrations can be achieved through the RAD model’s real-time development cycle feedback loop than other traditional development methods.
  • The RAD model might be the right fit if you have an immediate need, can spare some extra budget, and have an app that can be modularized.

Four Steps of Rapid Application Development Process

Image Source: https://www.lucidchart.com/blog/rapid-application-development-methodology

The 4 Phases of Rapid Application Development

The rapid application development methodology allows development teams to maximize their efforts. These phases are collaborative and iterative to improve the efficiency of the software development process. The focus is on rapid prototyping, reliable feedback from users, and real-time adjustments.

Phase 1: Requirements Planning

In the planning phase, designers, clients, developers, and all other stakeholders define the project requirements. Elements of this planning should include the goals, timelines, features, budget restraints, and user expectations for the project.

Phase 2: User Design

With the details worked out, the team moves right into the development phase. The user design is built and released through multiple iterations for real-time use and testing. Constant communication between developers and clients helps the development team to make adjustments to improve the end-user experience and ensure a smooth delivery process.

Phase 3: Rapid Construction

In the case of software developed using a formal programming language, once the prototypes have led to a satisfactory design, developers begin working on the actual development leading to the final model. This should move quickly, as the major concerns and flaws were addressed over the entire development process. In software development using a no-code or low-code platform like Quickbase or Caspio, this phase is eliminated since the prototype developed collaboratively or in close consultation with the client is, in fact, the final product in development. This means that development with a no-code platform is even more rapid than a RAD project that has to be coded.

Phase 4: Cutover

When the model is complete, the product is launched. User training takes place, as well as testing, data conversion, and changeover to the system. Stakeholders continue to use this time to uncover bugs in the software and gather data on its efficiency.

Pros And Cons of Rapid Application Development (RAD)

As with any product, there are pros and cons to consider before RAD. These are key benefits and disadvantages.

The Pros of RAD Methodology

There are major advantages to using the RAD model for your software or app development.

1. Efficiency

The RAD model relies on code reuse and code generators to deliver scripts more quickly. Teams decrease infrastructure and server needs, and new technologies are easier to try, test and implement for higher productivity.

It is even more efficient when we build with a no-code platform like QuickBase because the database software, a reporting engine, all the user interface components, and the administrative tools are already built into the platform. In traditional coded software development, even on a RAD model, these individual pieces of the total solution have to be selected and configured, software to make them interoperate has to be written, and the whole solution has to be deployed.

2. Flexibility

The RAD process prioritizes the customer input and end-user experience. As the prototypes are used and tested, customers are able to make changes as needed. Integrations are easier to incorporate, as well, since they are included during the build. During the RAD approach, adjustments are made to ensure functionality throughout the process rather than waiting until the end to see what works. This helps to ensure that the client receives a solution that will actually meet their needs and conform well to their processes.

3. Built-in Client Feedback

Going hand-in-hand with the attribute of flexibility described above, constant communication between developers, clients, and end users reduces the need for planning and strategy sessions during RAD projects. Continual feedback allows for midstream adjustments without the need to re-strategize. Rather than turning out a piece of technological artwork, the final product is fully usable, customized software based on real-time insight and user feedback.

Comparison of steps involved in traditional vs. rapid application development models

Image Source:  https://blog.spatial.com/rapid-application-development-vs-agile

4. Reduced Development Time

The RAD paradigm involves frequent iterative development, prototypes, and software engineering components that quickly provide measurable progress to help maintain both budgets and schedules. Rapid application development minimizes coding and scripting time and reduces production time compared to other software development models, as demonstrated by this graphic by Spatial.

5. Reduced Risk

The RAD model allows the team to prioritize risk factors in the initial phase and adapt to them during development. Integrations are easier with RAD model implementation, as they are built throughout the development process. This reduces the overall project risk, the technical risk associated with dissatisfied customers, and the final product that doesn’t meet user expectations.

The Cons of RAD Methodology

Just as there are pros to the RAD model, there are also a few RAD model disadvantages. Consider these common rapid application development model concerns.

1. Requires a Small Team of Highly Skilled Developers

The entire process hinges upon the rapid iterations and development of expert, talented developers. Each member of the team must have equal levels of technical expertise to ensure the project stays on schedule. However, sourcing this level of talent can be difficult.

2. Requires a Close Working Relationship With Your IT Team

The constant feedback and communication needed from the users or clients are what create timely changes and customized development. If these individuals are not available during each step of the process, decision-making doesn’t occur quickly or effectively. The client’s IT team needs to be available and fully aware of the needs required in order to ensure the project moves forward.

3. Works Best for Modularized Apps – Not Suitable for All Apps

Rapid application development typically requires separating the end project into a number of modules for development. This isn’t possible with software or apps that require development as a whole, although this is not commonly needed today. This also does not apply to no-code development with QuickBase since the platform itself provides many of the needed modules already built in.

4. Can Be More Expensive

The need for expert talent to conduct the development, iterations, and updates comes at a cost, as these salaries tend to be higher than the average coder or developer. There is a much higher expense associated with the cost of code generation as well regarding rapid application development.

Having said that, the efficiencies that come with no-code software development in QuickBase mean that the overall cost of development is almost always substantially lower than it would be with traditional software written in code, no matter the methodology chosen. In the age of no-code RAD, it’s possible even for small and midsize businesses to afford custom-made software to support their business model, processes, and objectives and to have it delivered fast. The lower development cost is partially offset, however, by the annual license fees of the no-code platform on which the software runs.

5. Required Expert Organization and Planning for Success

Without the right organization and management, the complex nature of collaboration among the many departments and stakeholders involved becomes chaotic. Without the requirements of the rapid application development project fully in place before starting, the project can get off task as feedback comes in. A strong management approach keeps each piece of the process functioning efficiently and effectively.

When Is RAD the Right Software Development Method?

While a customer-friendly and flexible methodology, there are advantages and disadvantages to the rapid application development model, which make it not the right fit for every business. Here’s how to know when it will work for you.

When You Need a Functional and Secure App Fast

If you’re working on a tight deadline, RAD can deliver results quickly. Expert coders and technology accelerate the development process.

When You Are Willing To Work Closely With Developers

The collaboration and communication between you and the development team is vital to the success of your project. If you can commit to being available as needed and provide honest feedback, RAD is beneficial.

If Your Budget Isn’t Too Tight

When cost isn’t a concern, RAD is ideal. The expert involvement turns out a product quickly, potentially saving additional expense on cost overrun. The important thing to remember with no-code RAD is that there will be an ongoing cost to license the platform on which your solution is built, and this can run from $5,000 to upwards of $100,000 per year, depending on the number of users or the computing resources required. In spite of that, the development cost of a custom application in Caspio or Quickbase is normally a small fraction of the cost of developing a custom solution using traditional software development methods.

If Your Application Can Be Modularized

If your product can be divided into smaller portions without significant technical issues, RAD may be a fit. Components and rapid application development tools need to stand alone for both the development and testing phases.

Speak With a Watkyn Consultant to Determine if RAD or No-code Fits Your Business’s Needs

Watkyn can handle your software development needs and deliver solutions to your problems through rapid application development. Build a better application or fix your integration problems with our team of QuickBase experts. Contact us to find out more.

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