Rapid Application Development is a model for app development where functions are built in a parallel style. This 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 gives 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 requirements recording and strict planning.  

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Phases Of Rapid Application Development 

1. Defining and Finalizing the Project Requirements 

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

Remember, if you fail to plan adequately for the whole 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 that the final project is in line with the project’s initial expectations. 

Once all the required procedures are followed in the planning stage, seek approvals from the management team and proceed to step two of the project. 

2. Defining Prototypes 

Once scoping is done and the project is approved, engage the designers who should work closely with developers to deliver a clear road map for the project. Always remember that it is the plan or design that will show you clear routes to the fulfillment of the milestones. Without clear designs, time and resources can be wasted without you ever delivering a single workable prototype using the technology.

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

3. Development

Once the map is clear, the succeeding phase is to track the steps and develop the project. 

Here, lots of code are written so that the actual product can be delivered. Sometimes this phase is referred to as the programming phase because it comprises extended coding procedures and is the main step that delivers a noticeable product. 

4. User Feedback 

The development team delivers working prototypes which are then transformed into working models. At this point, users are allowed to give feedback that can be used to tweak and improve the prototypes. The best possible products are then produced out of the user feedback received. 

5. Test, test, test

Complete projects must be tested against some pre-set standards. You should, therefore, test the product and ensure all its parts work as per the expectations of your client. A trained team of IT specialists is usually involved in this process. Additionally, the client’s feedback should be continuously incorporated into the process to ensure the end product works smoothly. Once the whole process is complete and the product is ready, RAD moves it to the next step. 

6. Deployment and Maintenance 

This is the final phase in the RAD life cycle. This stage 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 it up. And this is precisely the motive behind flexible designs. 

When Can You Use a RAD Model

Organizations can use RAD in the following cases:

  • When they have a budget that can accommodate the cost of modelling
  • When they need to develop products within a short period
  • When they need the project in a short time of between two to three months 

Benefits and Advantages of RAD

Some of the benefits of using the Rapid Application Development model include:

  • Enhanced flexibility in the app development process
  • 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 improves efficiency 

Shortcomings of RAD model

Some of the disadvantages of using RAD include:

  • It can only be used to develop systems that can be done in bits
  • It is expensive and not suitable for minor projects 
  • The initial stage of gathering project requirements is tedious and time-consuming
  • The technology is highly dependent on the modelling skills of teams 

Finally, Rapid Application Development as a progressive model prioritizes quick feedback 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 schedules from scratch. The methodology requires less planning and encourages quicker development of working models.