Breakout logo

Rapid Application Development - 2021 Complete Guide


Rapid Application Development is a type of agile methodology that focuses on prototypes and constant iterations while prioritizing user feedback and incorporating changes based on usage



An application development methodology determines what your workflow will be, how your product will be created, and whether you have scope of flexibility during the development life cycle.

While a traditional methodology like Waterfall makes you stick to a rigid plan and only lets you move to the next development stage when you finish the previous, Rapid Application Development or RAD makes your workflow quicker and more collaborative.rapid application developmentUsing this methodology means you would not have to rework from scratch every time a new feature has to be introduced or a version is rejected by the client. RAD was formed as an efficient process to develop an app, from design to deployment.

What Is RAD?

What is RAD
Rapid Application Development is a type of agile methodology that focuses on prototypes and constant iterations. It prioritizes user feedback and believes in incorporating changes based on usage over sticking to a rigid plan.

Formed by James Martin in the 1980s and published in 1991, the RAD approach is a popular application development methodology as it keeps a lot of scope for improvements and works to keep the user’s comfort and preferences above all.

Through the development life cycle, you can make changes to the design, add or remove features, and change interfaces without impacting the entire process. This is because you will be building rapid prototypes for testing and further improvements.

The RAD process is designed to evolve with changing requirements in real-time. While it is based on specific core guidelines, the development philosophies go through constant evolution based on user feedback.

5 Phases of RAD

Although RAD supports maximum flexibility and modifications, it is based on five core steps or phases that steer the development process.
Phases of rapid application development
  1. Define Project Requirements
    In Step 1, the requirements, scale, and scope of the project are determined. All the stakeholders, including designers, developers, clients, and other experts collaboratively discuss and finalize the project requirements.

    Some aspects discussed in this phase are:
    • Goals
    • Features
    • User expectations
    • Timelines
    • Budget
    • Additional concerns
    Once all these are defined clearly, necessary approvals are taken and the development work commences.
  2. Build Prototypes
    According to the project plan, developers start building prototypes. This phase includes designers and developers who work with clients to create one or multiple prototypes and improve them constantly until a final product can be created.

    This step can last for a short time or long, depending on client feedback and the efficiency of the prototypes. It continues until all the kinks have been worked out and the product is ready to be finalized.
  3. Obtain Feedback
    In Step 3, users provide their feedback on the prototypes and beta versions after these are converted to working models. Once feedback comes in, developers can modify or improve the prototypes to create an optimized product.

    Needless to say, Steps 2 and 3 go hand in hand and can be merged and looped together to form a collaborative and well-rounded development phase.
  4. Test the Product
    After the prototype is somewhat finalized, the product must be tested to check for errors, bugs, or malfunctioning components. Here, the user and developer can work together to determine whether the finished code is working fine or needs to be improved or changed to create a better user experience.
  5. Present the Application
    This is the last step before deployment. In this phase, the developer performs data conversion and trains users on how to operate the software. This phase again involves collaboration between the maker and the user, and can be conducted smoothly since the user’s feedback has been considered during development.

Advantages of RAD

There are several advantages of RAD:
  • It provides enhanced flexibility as developers can adapt to changes during the creation process and incorporate new features and functionalities.
  • You can make quick iterations that reduce timeframes and make the delivery process more streamlined.
  • It is based on customer collaboration, thus satisfying all stakeholders alike, like developers, clients, and users.
  • It provides better risk management solutions as code vulnerabilities are addressed before being finalized.
  • You can perform integrations at early stages and reuse code throughout, leading to a shorter testing time.
  • Quick reviews can be conducted, hence more productivity is achieved with fewer people.

Disadvantages of RAD

Although RAD is an extremely flexible and user-friendly methodology, it does have some disadvantages if you do not have a suitable team for it.
  • It needs massive collaboration and joint efforts from multiple people or departments. Thus, it can lead to confusion if not conducted properly.
  • It poses problems if there is a large team, mostly if there are many inexperienced or new developers.
  • It requires slightly more skilled developers to perform quick iterations and change code during the development process .
  • It is generally suitable only for projects that have to be developed and deployed quickly.
  • It needs user input at multiple stages, sometimes making the process more complex than other methods.
  • It can be tough to manage if all stakeholders are not on the same page.
After weighing the advantages and disadvantages of the Rapid Application Development process, you must analyze the available team to determine whether it is suitable for use. After all, you will need to keep all stakeholders involved throughout the entire development life cycle.

Is RAD Right for Your Team?

To determine whether your team is ready to incorporate the RAD approach into their development process, you need to make a checklist and ensure all the requirements are met first.

Some questions to be considered while making this decision are:
  • Do you have the resources (designers, coders, and developers) to create a product through this methodology?
  • If not, do you have the means or budget to hire experienced talent who can carry RAD on their shoulders?
  • Is your project on a tight deadline?
  • Is your client open to collaborating in the RAD process?
  • Do you have the right technology to implement RAD?
  • Can you test the prototypes with users that provide reliable feedback?
If the answer to all these questions is “yes”, you are good to go ahead with RAD.


RAD can benefit your development project immensely, provided you make sure your team is ready to collaborate and work extensively to ensure the prototypes are created and tested efficiently. You must also be open-minded about a new approach while keeping customer feedback in consideration.

RAD works best when you employ the right application development technologies and tools that align with business objectives, budget, and requirements.
Need help with Processes?
Talk to one of our process consultant for a free 30 minute session.

Schedule Free Session with a Process Consultant

Take control of your workflows for FREE.
Get 3 Months of the best workflow automation platform - totally free for upto 5 users!
*No Credit Card Required