RAD (rapid application development) is a concept that products can be developed faster and of higher quality through gathering requirements using workshops or focus groups; prototyping and early, reiterative user testing of designs; the re-use of software components; a rigidly paced schedule that defers design improvements to the next product version; less formality in reviews and other team communication.
Classical cycle of RAD includes such phases:
Requirements planning phase. Users, managers, and IT staff members discuss and agree on business needs, project scope, constraints, and system requirements. It ends when the team agrees on the key issues and obtains management authorization to continue;
User design phase. Users interact with systems analysts and develop models and prototypes that represent all system processes, inputs, and outputs. User Design is a continuous interactive process that allows users to understand, modify, and eventually approve a working model of the system that meets their needs.
Construction phase. Focuses on program and application development task similar to the SDLC. In RAD, however, users continue to participate and can still suggest changes or improvements as actual screens or reports are developed. Its tasks are programming and application development, coding, unit-integration and system testing.
Cutover phase. It includes data conversion, testing, changeover to the new system, and user training. Compared with traditional methods, the entire process is compressed. As a result, the new system is built, delivered, and placed in operation much sooner.
The advantages of RAD include:
- Better quality.
- Risk control.
- More projects completed on time and within budget.
Of course, there are also some disadvantages. For example, it can be the risk of a new approach. RAD is a new approach that required experienced professionals to rethink the way they worked. Also, it requires time of scarce resources. One thing virtually all approaches to RAD have in common is that there is much more interaction throughout the entire life-cycle between users and developers. There is less control of the process, and design can be poorly arranged. Last of all, systems can be very large. but RAD typically focuses on small to medium-sized project teams. Working with large-scale systems will create many challenges.
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