According to Gartner, Inc.’s most recent mobile app survey, the primary barriers to application development in the enterprise are cost, time, and gaps in technical skills. For many, rapid application development (RAD) methodology has lessened the impact of those detractors on app development.
RAD is a method of software development that is defined primarily by rapid prototyping and iterative delivery. The RAD model is, therefore, a sharp alternative to the typical waterfall development model, which often focuses largely on planning and sequential design practices. While RAD is not right for every situation, here are five competitive advantages of RAD:
#1: Measurable Progress and Reduced Development Time
The inherent process of frequent iterations, components, and prototypes makes it infinitely easier to measure progress and maintain schedules and budgets. That means businesses get the advantage of quicker time to market or quick implementation within the enterprise that furthers business goals.
#2: Faster Code Generation
Due to code generators and code reuse, there is a reduction of manual coding, which decreases the coding and scripting time, as deliverables can be easily transferred as scripts. This can dramatically reduce the time it takes to produce working prototypes and working code for iterative example illustration, which would normally take weeks or even months with other methodologies. By utilizing a platform-as-a-service model (PaaS), as well as containers as part of RAD, development teams can work faster and smarter while decreasing server and infrastructure needs for development environments in the cloud.
#3: Easy Modification Through Compartmentalization of System Components
The RAD iterative process is set up in a way that makes it mandatory for designers to create functionally independent components that will make up the final application. Because each element is compartmentalized, it can be easily modified to meet the evolving needs of the software, which enables a multitude of individual and collective benefits in terms of quality, cost, and decreased application development lifecycles.
#4: Rapid, Constant User Feedback
Beyond the development team, there are always other internal teams and stakeholders who will have to sign off on the project and its satisfactory progress. These groups are almost never application- or IT-savvy and are often operating in different departmental silos with varying needs and expectations.
This makes user feedback not only necessary but invaluable to successful development lifecycles. Because RAD methodologies allow for constant feedback through the iterative process, developers can get the needed feedback from end users that can more easily be incorporated into later iterations to improve the final application. This means that everyone gets the access they need to sign off on progress, and development teams get the feedback they need to speed development.
#5: Early Systems Integration
While most waterfall-method software projects must, by their very nature, wait until the tail end of the lifecycle to begin integrations with other systems or services, a rapidly developed application becomes integrated almost immediately. By requiring early integrations within a prototype, a RAD system quickly identifies any errors or complications within integrations and forces immediate resolution.
Overall, the simple adaptability of RAD takes a highly malleable form during development. Development teams can more easily take advantage of simple code-change capabilities that can dramatically broaden the possibilities of the finished software without wasting time or introducing critical errors that may not be apparent until late in the development lifecycle.
By utilizing a rapid application development method, designers and developers can aggressively utilize knowledge and discoveries gleaned during the development process itself—to shape the design and/or alter the software direction entirely. This reduces risks in the overall project and the potential for defects while delivering the highest-priority functionality to the end user. Finally, the process requires fewer people with higher-order skills to increase overall IT productivity.
Most important, the same holds true for the business overall. When business process and market forces are constantly putting pressure on application development lifecycles, RAD quickly becomes a fundamental building block to cloud-native application development for businesses that need to be adaptive, flexible, and fast in the digital age.