Advantages and Disadvantages of Rapid Application Development by@appery
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Advantages and Disadvantages of Rapid Application Development

by Appery.ioFebruary 28th, 2022
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Rapid application development has been around since the 80s. Nevertheless, the approach is still widely implemented by startups and companies looking to launch a software product faster. Learn more about the advantages and disadvantages of rapid application development and figure out whether the concept suits your next project.

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In the first two months of the pandemic, we saw two years’ worth of digital transformation. And it’s just one of the examples of how fast the world around us is moving.

To keep up with competition and ever-changing user needs, businesses and their IT teams need to rethink the way they’ve been creating software for decades. This is where rapid application development (RAD) comes into play. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at this concept, assess rapid application development advantages and disadvantages, and investigate RAD’s connection to low-code and no-code app development. Let’s dive in!

What is Rapid Application Development Exactly?

The rapid application development concept was invented in the 80s and has since become one of the most popular Agile approaches. Essentially, RAD aims to create applications faster. This is achieved through frequent interactions and continuous feedback analysis.

Unlike the Waterfall methodology, which dictates that software teams need a detailed roadmap for their project, RAD does not rely on heavy planning. On the contrary, its goal is to release a working application (or a small piece thereof!) faster, present it to stakeholders, test the application on real-world data and tasks, and tweak the software based on what’s been discovered so far.

Another core difference from the traditional software development methodologies is that RAD is driven by interface rather than coding requirements, which helps create applications with a particular user in mind.

Rapid Application Development Stages

The rapid application development model incorporates four phases:

  • Requirements analysis. At this stage, a business analyst sits down to talk with stakeholders to loosely define software requirements. This is a sharp contrast with Waterfall projects, which rely on thorough requirements elicitation and leave little room for adjustments and change requests once the project scope has been agreed upon.
  • Iterative prototyping. A software development team creates a proof of concept (POC) version of an application containing its essential features. The working prototype is then demonstrated to stakeholders, and critical changes are made. The iterative prototyping approach helps software engineers evaluate the feasibility of a complex app or functional component early on and rule out possible technology roadblocks.
  • Actual development. The development (aka “construction”) stage encompasses coding, application testing, and feedback collection. Since most of the user problems and change requests are addressed during the prototyping stage, software engineers can create applications faster.
  • Product finalization. The RAD paradigm revolves around faster development cycles, meaning developers might have to cut corners to put up an app in a tight timeframe. As a result, technology debt may accumulate — and that’s one of the issues RAD teams address during the product finalization phase. Additionally, they conduct full-scale testing, write technical documentation, and onboard users.

How RAD and Low-Code App Development Complement Each Other

As we mentioned earlier, rapid application development is interface-driven.

Since no-code and low-code app development platforms incorporate drag-and-drop app builders aswell as complete back-end infrastructures, RAD advocates often use them to prototype and build applications. Additionally, most low-code and no-code platforms now offer pre-packaged templates to fast-track app development.

To choose the optimum technology stack for your RAD project, you should compare the advantages of low-code and no-code application development tools and study the platforms’ ratings on product review websites like G2.

Rapid Application Development: Pros and Cons

Different approaches to software development have their advantages and downsides, and RAD is no exception.

Advantages of Rapid Application Development**

The major advantage of rapid application development is that software teams can change the key features and functionality of an application at any given moment.

Other reasons to embrace RAD include:

  • Stakeholders communicate frequently, solving issues together and creating a product that best meets the business/technology needs of a company
  • With RAD, you can manage your resources appropriately and avoid running over budget without seeing a glimpse of real value from your new technology
  • RAD helps reduce your time to market, which is key for innovative technology startups and companies undergoing ad-hoc digital transformation
  • In RAD projects, user feedback takes center stage, increasing customer satisfaction levels

Disadvantages of Rapid Application Development

The core disadvantage of the RAD concept stems from software projects’ shorter lifespan and user-centricity. The larger and more complex your project is, the harder it becomes to collect stakeholder feedback and coordinate developer activities.

Here’s what you should consider before opting for RAD methodology:**

  • To sail through the rapid application development stages, you need a strong, inherently Agile software team whose members collaborated on similar projects in the past and have direct contact with each other. This makes RAD hard to implement in enterprise-grade settings and outsourced projects with many developers scattered around the globe
  • RAD is interface-driven, meaning developers often cut corners during the prototype stage to get the green light from the stakeholders. These workarounds can lead to a huge technical debt on the back-end level, which needs to be addressed later in the development process and may eventually affect release deadlines
  • Unlike Waterfall, RAD requires stakeholder commitment, which seldom suits executives and senior project/product managers at large enterprises due to scheduling conflicts
  • To reap RAD’s benefits, your team needs to choose suitable app building software that combines the power of low-code development with the simplicity of no-code tools

When to Use Rapid Application Development

Now that we’ve assessed rapid application development’s advantages and disadvantages, it’s time to define instances when RAD should be the go-to methodology to coordinate your project.

Creating an MVP to Raise Funding

After a turbulent 2020, startup funding is on the rise again, with investors writing huge checks likeit’s 1999 all over again. To avoid missing out on the investment frenzy, a software startup must develop a prototype or minimum viable product (MVP) version of their applications faster  — and that’s where RAD comes in handy.

In addition to speeding up the development cycle, the RAD approach helps put up a decent-looking, full-featured prototype on a shoestring budget and refine the product once you raise funding.

Getting Buy-In from a Company’s C-Suite

Although 77% of executives believe thepandemic has given a second wind to their digital transformation initiatives, very few companies splurge on a new technology solution with only vague ROI potential.

Creating a mobile version of an agricultural company’s CRM system might seem like a waste of money if you go the traditional route, building separate apps for iOS and Android users and sucking the company’s annual IT budget dry. But if you develop a cross-platform prototype using a no-code or low-code app builder, test the software among sales representatives working in the field, and present the results of your experiment to your CEO, your chances of getting a budget will increase exponentially.

Prototyping Applications at Hackathons

Hackathons are where bright tech ideas take shape and rising stars are discovered. If you don’t believe me, just ask the founders of EasyTaxi and Appetas. What makes hackathons challenging is that you only get a couple of days to __create a novel meditation app __or asset management system.**

With RAD and the underlying technology stack, including visual development tools and website/application templates, it is totally possible to turn your idea into a prototype in mere days.

Rapid application development is a powerful approach that helps exercise greater risk control and ensure greater user satisfaction with the final product. When used appropriately and backed up by a suitable technology stack, RAD can work wonders for your business — especially if you’re working on a novel product or toying with the idea of implementing new software in the workplace.