Benefits of Rapid Application Development
How Can Rapid Application Development Benefit You?
Rapid Application Development (RAD) is a development model that emphasises quick prototypes (often instead of written design specifications) and iterative development. Instead of focusing on planning, this process relies more on an adaptive approach.
This model is ideal for customers who are looking for results in a short period of time. It also helps refine functionality requirements of the application.
The Rapid Application Development Process
The Rapid Application Development model has four phases:
While planning is not the main focus in this process, it does help outline its requirements. However, instead of going deep into finer details right at the start, the planning stage is used to get broad requirements. A great deal of time is spent understanding the needs, core functionality required, and any additional features.
At this stage, developers also give their input and concepts, based on their experience, so you get maximum return on investment.
The planning stage, in short, is essentially utilised to make sure your requirements are clear and that there are no gaps in functionality.
One of the main advantages of the RAD model is that it starts with a functioning prototype. This allows you to see and use the product in order to see how it works, instead of trying to visualise it from words on paper.
At DCSL, we build a backlog along with the prototype. The backlog acts as the blueprint for your software application. It serves to identify each area of the application, explains what it contains, and how each aspect works in detail.
Both the prototype and backlog serves to give you a detailed description of the end product and its functions.
Once you are satisfied with the prototype and backlog, the development stage commences.
Waterloo Rapid Application Development Toolset
In order to deliver a prototype and final product quickly to our customers, we use Waterloo, a RAD toolset that we developed in-house.
Waterloo is made up of a number of component parts designed to speed up development of common functionality in software systems. Its three main components are:
- Project template
- Scaffolding engine
- Common libraries
Project templates help provide a structured starting point for any new application.
The scaffolding engine allows developers to quickly generate common screens, and automate production of common or repetitive CRUD (Create, Read, Update, Delete) code.
The common libraries provide common functionality, such as messaging, validation, logging, file management, and search.
This toolset also allows reusable code, helping developers deliver the prototype, and product, to customers in the least amount of time.
The final stage of the RAD process is when the product is delivered. This might be the final product, if using the fixed price plan, or an iteration that can be assessed and tested by you.
What Are the Benefits of the Rapid Application Development Method?
As the name suggests, speed of delivery is an important feature of RAD. The model relies on a prototype delivered quickly to the customer. This means you get a working model of the product to use in the shortest amount of time possible.
Under certain circumstances, software development projects can fail because of lack of planning. The developers are excited about getting started on developing, and customers are unaware of the intricacies of the project. This can often mean that potential problems are overlooked.
In the RAD method, the initial planning may not be very detailed, but involves understanding broad requirements of the project. Even if the finer details are not discussed, it’s easier to add them during prototyping and iteration development, when the product can be used and problems identified.
It can often be difficult for a customer to visualise the finished product and the problems it will solve. Under the RAD method you get a prototype, which makes it easier not just to see what your product looks, like but also how it functions. This way, nothing is left to assumption.
RAD is aided by tools that allow reuse of code, pre-developed libraries of function, and templates. As a result, a lot of the time-consuming coding tasks are already completed, which means developers can focus on custom features. Since developers don’t need to spend as much time building the application, it costs less.
Moreover, since this foundation code is pre-tested and verified, there are fewer bugs that need to be fixed after development. Finally, since you have a prototype, it’s easier to check if your application has all the functionalities you need, eliminating the need for future changes, which would cost you more.
As you can see, pre-tested libraries of code can help you get a software product that is free of bugs and code errors. This means RAD gives you high quality software applications at a lower cost and better support in the long term.
Additionally, since you can interact with a prototype as it evolves, you have a clearer idea of what the product offers and what it lacks. Constant feedback is a part of the RAD method as well as Agile methodologies. This means you can test your product to see if it meets all requirements of your business.
Any missing functionality or bugs can be reported back to the developers so they can fix them in their next iteration.
With Rapid Application Development, you get a low-cost, yet high-quality, prototype developed in a short amount of time. As a result, you can see fairly early on in the process what your final software application will look like.
The prototype can then go through usability testing, so you can check if it works as you need it to.
As a result, you don’t run the risk of getting a final product that does not meet your expectations.
Rapid Application Development can be a great way to get software developed, if time and money are a constraint. It offers many benefits, including a high-quality product that is in line with your requirements.