What is Rapid Application Development? Benefits, Drawbacks, and Limitations.

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rapid application development

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What is Rapid Application Development?

Rapid Application Development, abbreviated as RAD, is an adaptive framework commonly used in the software development process. It functions by rapidly updating the software based on client feedback and promptly responding to all user requirements that come up. 

In this model, the development team and the client or client network work collaboratively to determine the goal of any given project. The project goals, problems, and expectations are communicated by the client/user and these are taken up by the development team to evaluate these requirements and finalize the agreed set of updates. 

Next, the developers code prototypes that can filter and include the user feedback repeatedly until it meets everyone’s expectations. During RAD, the development process is very rapid since the issues and obstacles are identified correctly and removed.

Since there is a collaboration between users and developers in RAD, it enhances customer satisfaction and user experience. The RAD model significantly reduces the risk associated with the development process and delivers high-quality products at the same time. 

What are the stages of RAD?

There are four stages in the RAD approach. They are as follows: 

  • Goal planning: The users and the development team decide the goal of the project and finalize what are its requirements.
  • Prototype Design: The prototype is designed and continuously filtered to integrate user feedback until expectations are met. 
  • Rapid Development: The designed prototype is rapidly built as a functional software while repeatedly updating it to include client feedback.
  • Production: The final prototype is sent forward to production. Changes and upgrades can still be made repeatedly in the RAD model.

What is the History of RAD?

The RAD model serves as a substitute for the conventional waterfall software development life cycle model. The initial development of this model was done by Barry Boehm, which he called the “Spiral Model.” 

However, James Martin took inspiration from Barry’’s work and finally put forward the “Rapid Application Development” that we know today. James Martin published his work in the year 1991 when he was working for IBM. 

Limitations of RAD

Though RAD  is known as a highly effective model of agile, it has its limitations. 

For instance, the RAD model is effective only if customer goals and feedback is defined clearly. It can’t function if the user feedback received is unclear. 

Similarly, the design should have the flexibility to be broken down in modular ways. If the design is rigid and difficult to be broken down, then RAD is not recommended. 

The RAD model demands precise requirements before designing and prototyping. Thus, it requires team members who have good experience and knowledge of the field. 

Now, this may not always be possible especially to startups and smaller businesses who have a limited budget and rely on external experts. 

Benefits of RAD

Rapid development

RAD enables the developers to develop quickly and constantly with new feedback. This way, advanced softwares can be developed in a modular way, in limited time. This gives users a fully functioning product at a greater speed. 

Reduced Rework

Since RAD is a reusable framework, there is no need to reinvent the wheel because the development parts can be reused.

Risk minimization

The chance of failure and lack of functioning is less in the RAD framework because there are constant changes made based on the customer feedback making sure there is a good customer feedback and experience. As a result, there is minimum risk. 

Minimum incorporation issues

Since the customer feedback is incorporated into the development process right from the beginning, there are fewer issues that arise because of the lack of incorporation. Moreover, new features, and updates can be introduced to the prototype on the way. 

Drawbacks of RAD

Continuous customer involvement

There is a continuous feedback required from the users in order to keep making changes constantly until it satisfies everyone. 

Now, one problem is that these changes are prone to internal bias and secondly, in the initial phases of development, there may not be enough outreach to have a sustainable constant customer feedback.

Modular framework

RAD can only be applied to software development processes that can be modularized and broken down into smaller parts. 

The projects that can be modularized are mostly small and medium sized ones. Since complex frameworks are required for larger projects, they are not suitable with RAD. 

High quality skillset

RAD requires experts who are well-versed in their field with good knowledge and experience. Thus, RAD is only suitable for experienced team players rather than startups and small businesses because they heavily depend on external experts. 


Q: What are the drawbacks of Rapid application development?

A: There are three main drawbacks of rapid application development. Firstly, it requires a high skill set of experts, which may not be suitable for startups and small businesses. Secondly, they require a modular approach where the project can be broken down into small chunks and cannot be applicable to complex projects. Lastly, customer engagement is required continuously for the software development process which may not always be accessible at each stage. 

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