Rapid application development (RAD) is an app development model where functions are built in a parallel manner. That is done in a way that each section appears like a subproject. The subprojects are then gathered and joined into a model, also known as a “prototype.” In-between the processes, it is easier for application developers to make, adjust, or even change elements of the model quickly.

Besides, RAD accords more priority to the rapid release and review of prototypes. Also, rapid application development puts more emphasis on the use of software together with user feedback mechanisms over requirement recording and strict planning.

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RAD involves six phases discussed in more detail below.

Phases of Rapid Application Development

The six stages of RAD are:

Defining and Finalizing the Project Requirements

This step is also called the “planning phase.” It happens at the very beginning of a project. Stakeholders sit together and make joint decisions on the project’s requirements, such as the budget, goals, timelines, and expectations.

Remember, if you fail to plan adequately for the entire model, the outcome may not reflect your goal in its entirety. It is advisable that proper planning and stakeholder engagement are carried out at the onset so the final project is in line with your initial expectations.

When all the required procedures are followed in the planning stage and approval is gained from the management team, the development team can proceed to step 2.

Designing the Prototype

Once scoping is done and the project is approved, the designers who will work with developers closely are engaged to deliver a clear project road map. Always remember that the plan or design will show you a clear route to fulfilling the milestones you set. Without a clearly defined design, time and resources can be wasted without you ever delivering a single working prototype.

However, the resultant architectural design should be as simple and flexible as possible. A flexible project can accommodate more files and folders and is much easier to fine-tune.


Once the map is clear, the succeeding phase requires tracking the steps and developing the product.

Here, lots of code get written so that the software can be delivered. This phase is sometimes referred to as the “programming phase” because it involves extended coding procedures and is the main step that leads to the delivery of a working product.

Gathering User Feedback

The development team delivers a working prototype, which is then transformed into a working model. At this point, users are allowed to provide feedback that can be used to tweak and improve the prototype. The best possible product is then produced based on the user feedback received.

Test, Test, Test

Completed projects must be tested against some predefined standards. You should, therefore, test the product and ensure that all its parts work as per the client’s expectations. A trained team of information technology (IT) specialists is usually involved in this process. Additionally, the client’s feedback should be continuously incorporated into the model to ensure the end product works smoothly. Once the whole process is completed and the product is ready, RAD proceeds to the next step.

Deployment and Maintenance

This is the final phase in the RAD process. It involves data conversion, user training, application deployment, and application maintenance. Some of these are usually completed on a server.

Maintenance may include fine-tuning or even the addition of missing or extra features to scale a product up, which is the motive behind creating flexible designs.

When Can I Use Rapid Application Development?

Organizations can use RAD in the following cases:

  • When they have a budget that can accommodate modeling costs
  • When they need to develop products within a short period
  • When they need the project to be completed in a short time, typically 2–3 months

Benefits of Rapid Application Development

Some of the benefits of using the RAD model include:

  • Enhanced flexibility in app development processes
  • Quick iterations
  • Constructive feedback
  • Encourages code reuse, minimizes errors, and shortens testing time
  • Rapid development condenses development time
  • Incorporation of customer feedback increases customer satisfaction
  • Integrates reusable features
  • Improved risk management
  • Repetitive assessment in the course of development, which improves efficiency 

Shortcomings of Rapid Application Development

Some of the disadvantages of using RAD include:

  • Can only be used to develop systems that can be done in bits
  • Expensive and not suitable for minor projects
  • Has a tedious and time-consuming initial stage where project requirements are identified
  • Highly dependent on a team’s modeling skills

Finally, RAD as a progressive model prioritizes quick feedback gathering and rapid prototyping over longer testing cycles. It is more advantageous, as it allows developers to make rapid multiple changes and adjustments to software, without having to restart development from scratch. The methodology requires less planning and encourages quicker development of a working model.

Key Takeaways