Rapid Application Development

All you need to know about RAD

Key takeaways

Faster than traditional software development life cycles (SDLC)

Less planning, more prototyping, faster iteration

Use no-code technology alongside RAD to align business and IT

Introducing: rapid application development (RAD)

Every sector and every organization has its own unique challenges. But when it comes to software development, there are some challenges that don’t discriminate. Do any of the following sound familiar?

  • Massive IT backlogs;
  • Too much time and budget allocated to just “keeping the lights on”;
  • Poor alignment between business and IT;
  • Slow time-to-market;
  • Products that fail to meet customer expectations;

If so, it could be that traditional software development life cycles (SDLCs) are, in part, to blame — and the rapid application development model could be the answer.
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What is rapid application development?

Rapid application development (RAD) was first coined way back in 1991, in James Martin’s book of the same name. Here’s how Martin described the methodology:

“Rapid application development (RAD) is a development life cycle designed to give much faster development and higher-quality results than those achieved with the traditional lifecycle.”

James_Martin James Martin, pioneering IT consultant and author
On a basic level, the RAD methodology is a combination of Computer-Assisted Software Engineering (CASE) tools and a different way of thinking about the process of software development life cycles. Here’s how it looks:
Software development life cycle explained

Rapid application development
stages explained

Though the above image shows the general RAD process, the model can also be defined by the following stages:
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1. Set project requirements

Stakeholders work together to ensure everyone is on the same page

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2. User design

The design comes together through multiple prototypes, with continuous user feedback

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3. Construction

This is where prototypes become working models

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4. Cutover

Time to launch the product into a live environment. Developers focus here on stability and maintainability

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Top 3 pros and cons of RAD

Pros

Cons

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When to use RAD

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When a fast time-to-market is essential

When the customer needs the finished product in a relatively short amount of time, RAD makes perfect sense

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When your customer is willing to commit to the process

To derive maximum value from RAD, customers should commit to being involved in the software development life cycle (SDLC) process, meeting with developers for regular feedback sessions

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When you need to onboard new developers quickly

Because RAD emphasizes the reuse of code through using low- and no-code platforms, new team members can be onboarded quickly. There is no need to hand over huge amounts of code!

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When you want to focus on the product

To enable your team to focus more on the product, using a platform that enables automatic updates across all applications can be hugely beneficial — such platforms align closely with RAD

RAD, low-code, no-code, SDLCs, and citizen development

Low-code and no-code platforms compliment and facilitate the RAD methodology because they naturally enable faster development from a technological point of view. Developers are able to release frequent iterations, whilst retaining the ability to customize components with code when required.

The main difference with no-code platforms (as opposed to low-code) is that they allow business-side employees to take part in the software development life cycle because a high level of programming expertise isn’t a prerequisite. This is what’s known as citizen development.

The key thing to remember about no-code and citizen development strategies is that, in order to be successful, they must be properly governed. It means that pro-coders will always be essential, but they’re no longer restricted to simply “keeping the lights on”, and innovation can thrive.

Betty Blocks and RAD

No-code platforms and RAD strategies are like wine and cheese — an ideal pairing. The business-side is best positioned to understand the needs of the customer, and a no-code platform like Betty Blocks creates better alignment between business and IT within an SDLC.
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Drastically reduce time-to-market

The Betty Blocks no-code platform enables faster development, prototypes in days instead of months, time-to-market in months instead of years, and applications that exceed customer expectations. To see the kind of apps you can build with Betty Blocks and the RAD methodology, check out our app gallery.
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