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    Rapid Application Development Methodology: How and When to Use It?

    Software development is a highly dynamic industry. For some projects and market requirements, it’s critical to implement changes in the product swiftly or develop it as fast as possible. In such cases, the rapid application development approach over-performs other software development methodologies.

    Though the rapid application development framework could be considered one of the agile software development strategies, it differs. It focuses more on ongoing software projects and implementing user feedback or clients’ requirements right in the process rather than following a strict plan.

    It becomes clear that such an approach can benefit many companies. So let’s move ahead and discover rapid software development in detail and why it might matter for your product.

    Rapid Application Development Features

    One of the most common problems for software development teams is spending a lot of time on planning and iteration stages and not delivering the product within the established terms. Therefore, according to the Wellingtone survey, only 34% of organizations complete the project on time.


    The RAD methodology can help to solve this problem.

    The main benefit of the RAD approach is treating software projects like clay rather than steel. It’s the idea that they should always be malleable. As you learn more about the RAD definition, you should remember that aspect of it.

    The RAD methodology first appeared in the 1980s and came from the Agile approach. It may not be new, but it’s still popular for teams looking for an agile strategy for application development that allows them to keep pace with increasing client, user, and business needs.

    You also need to know that rapid application development prioritizes prototype releases and iterations. They emphasize software and user feedback over strict planning and requirement recording.

    Rapid Application Development Process Phases

    For decades, project management teams have stuck with the traditional software development strategy that includes strict planning, process, and documentation.

    Any discussion of rapid application development pros and cons should mention that it focuses on minimizing the planning stage and maximizing prototype development. It reduces planning time and emphasizes prototype iterations.


    RAD allows project managers and stakeholders to arrange all project changes in real time and implement them immediately. It enables greater efficiency, faster release and time-to-market, and effective communication.

    Phase One: Requirement Planning

    According to the above study, schedules are baselined in around 48% of projects. Baselining, in other words, approval of project planning documentation should be of the planning stage, which allows tracking the software development progress against plans.

    The rapid app development planning stage is like a project scoping meeting that results in creating a scoping document. During this stage, developers, stakeholders, and team members communicate to define the project’s goals. They also review current and potential issues to be addressed during the build.

    Tip: This stage includes:

    • Researching the current problem
    • Defining project requirements and specifications
    • Approval of those requirements by stakeholders
    • Evaluating the goals and expectations for the project

    Phase Two: User Design and Prototypes

    Design development is the second of the rapid application development phases. It involves building the common stages of the design process. The primary goals of this phase are to develop customer journeys and wireframes, apply the main UX deliverables, and finalize the design version through various prototype iterations.

    During this stage, clients work closely with developers. In such a way, they can discuss the project requirements met at every step of the design process. It’s similar to customizable software development, where the users test each product prototype at every stage to see if it meets their expectations.

    All the kinks and bugs are worked out through iterative means. The development team designs a prototype, and the client and users test it. Then, all the issues are discovered, and comments are considered in the next design version. This method lets developers tweak the model until they devise a satisfactory design.

    Tip: At the end of this stage, you have the final tested design version that you implement into the software.

    Phase Three: Rapid Construction

    This phase’s main task is to put the design prototypes into beta systems and then into a working model.

    Developers discover most problems and make changes through the iterative design phase. Now, they can construct the final working model more quickly than they could by following a traditional project management approach.

    Tip: This phase includes:

    • Preparation for rapid construction
    • Program and application development
    • Coding
    • Unit, integration, and system testing

    This third phase is vital because the client still has the opportunity to give input. They can suggest changes or new ideas that will solve problems as they arise.

    Phase Four: Cutover

    It’s the implementation phase when the finished product is launched.

    Tip: At this stage, you need to care about the following:

    • Data conversion
    • Testing
    • Getting client feedback
    • Finalizing your system

    Rapid Application Development Model Pros & Cons

    Well, now you know the main phases of rapid application development methodology. Let’s look at the advantages and disadvantages the RAD approach has for your project.

    RAD Model Pros

    Here are the main benefits of the rapid app development model:

    • High flexibility and adaptability. You can change the requirements at any time. The developers can make adjustments quickly during the development process.
    • Optimized team efficiency. Thanks to RAD methodology, you can divide the project into more manageable tasks and measure the software efficiency more effectively.
    • Reduced development time and faster delivery. The time between prototypes and iterations is shortened.
    • Encouragement of code reuse. It means less manual coding, less room for errors, and shorter test times.
    • A focus on customer satisfaction. RAD uses client feedback for further iterations and allows for high-level collaboration and coordination between investors.
    • Reduced risks. Stakeholders can discuss and address code vulnerabilities while keeping development processes going.
    • Integration is easy since it is involved from the inception of the project.

    RAD Model Cons

    Certainly, as with other ones, the RAD model has some disadvantages that should be critical to know about before you are choosing it:

    • It requires skilled developers and designers.
    • There is a high dependency on modeling skills.
    • It’s more complex to manage when compared with other models.
    • User requirements throughout the lifecycle of the product must be calculated.
    • RAD isn’t designed to work well with smaller projects. It requires automated code-generated tools, making it suitable for projects with minimal development time.
    • Features are often eliminated to fit time limits. Some functions are developed in the later versions to speed up the product’s first release.
    • Scalability is challenging when using RAD as the prototype evolves into a finished application.
    • Hard to track progress and software issues because of little to no documentation.

    Rapid Application Development Tools

    Since rapid development requires specific tools to work smoothly, you should discover some of those. Here are the most common:

    • Alpha Anywhere. It’s a platform that allows the development of databases, web, and hybrid mobile applications.
    • Yeeflow. It’s a RAD platform for no-code development with drag-and-drop features.
    • EachScape. It’s a low-code RAD tool suitable for iOS, Android, hybrid, and web app development.
    • QuickBase. It’s a no-code RAD platform that enables building apps for various industries.
    • ViziApps. It’s a cloud-based app builder with drag-and-drop features and visual design tools.

    RAD vs. Other Software Development Models

    Let’s look at some factors that distinguish RAD software development from other approaches.

    Development Speed,

    The critical difference between RAD and other models, is how rapid application development focuses on speed. Other models usually concentrate more on bringing a working product to the customer, regardless of how long that takes.

    Team Members

    Rapid application development benefits from having a single team without too many members. It allows for fast communication, frequent meetings, and the quick transfer of information. While for other development models, it differs. For example, the Agile team model prefers having larger teams divided into different specializations.


    For rapid application development, keeping the end-user involved throughout the entire development process is critical. Other models are typically limited by users’ research only at the beginning and the users testing at the end of the development cycle.

    Rapid Application Development and Agile

    Agile is one of the most common software development methodologies, though it was developed after RAD appeared. There are the following differences between these two models:

    • RAD is a predecessor of Agile, but Agile encompasses far more than a development model.
    • The RAD model doesn’t set up a particular timeline for iterations. Instead, the focus on development speed is clearly emphasized.
    • Unlike Agile, feedback from the end-users is critical to the RAD process.
    • RAD principles are focused on functionality and user satisfaction. Agile emphasizes the technical side and sound design.
    • RAD doesn’t limit itself to a team structure as Agile does.

    RAD Model vs. Traditional SDLC

    Let’s briefly outline the difference between the RAD approach and the traditional SDLC. We summarized the main points in the table below:


    RAD Model

    SDLC Model

    Development stages

    RAD has no clearly defined dev stages.

    SDLC has clear and structured dev stages.

    Stages review

    RAD allows reviewing dev stages at any necessary time.

    In SDLC, you cannot go back to the completed dev stages.

    Development speed

    The development speed is fast due to automated RAD tools and strategies.

    The development speed is slower compared to RAD.

    Project requirements

    RAD doesn’t require a precise requirements outline before development, and they can change during the project.

    The SDLC requires a clear definition of requirements before development begins.

    Project changes

    RAD allows effortless implementation of changes.

    Implementing project changes in SDLC is challenging because of the strict step-by-step essence of this model.

    User feedback

    RAD heavily relies on user feedback.

    SDLC uses minimum user feedback.

    Team size

    The RAD approach involves a small dev team.

    The SDLC approach involves a large dev team.

    Project type

    RAD suits low-budget, short-term projects best.

    SDLC suits long-term projects best.


    RAD involves component reuse, reducing development time.

    SDLC doesn’t involve the reuse of components.

    When to Use Rapid Application Development Methodology

    For sure, the RAD model does not apply to every project and team. But in some cases, it’s particularly beneficial. So for the last point, let’s discover in what matters the rapid application is helpful:

    When You Can Reliably Test Your Prototypes

    Do you have the means to test your design prototypes with users who can give feedback on the prototypes you make? If so, then rapid application development is a great model to follow.

    When You Have the Budget

    Compared to other development models, rapid application development is relatively inexpensive. There are always outlying instances, though.

    When You Need a Project Done Rapidly

    Rapid application development is your best bet if you have a tight deadline. If you’re under pressure to deliver something that works, opting for a RAD platform is always suitable.


    About the Author

    Kamal Rastogi is a serial IT entrepreneur with 25 yrs plus experience. Currently his focus area is Data Science business, ERP Consulting, IT Staffing and Experttal.com (Fastest growing US based platform to hire verified / Risk Compliant Expert IT resources from talent rich countries like India, Romania, Philippines etc...directly). His firms service clients like KPMG, Deloitte, EnY, Samsung, Wipro, NCR Corporation etc in India and USA.

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