Rapid Application Development vs Traditional SDLC

Learn about the differences between Rapid Application Development and the traditional SDLC approach

“It is no secret that web projects fail, but it is lesser known that traditional application development approaches are the single biggest factor in this failure. Why? And what straightforward steps can be taken to reduce time to market, increase quality and save money while delivering a product that is exactly what the business requires?”
Source: Computer Weekly

Though traditional methods of software development, such as SDLC, are known for having clear objectives, stable requirements and measurable progress of development, they are time consuming, have minimum iterations and there is very little customer interaction. Hence, traditional application development methodologies and tools are unable to fulfill the demands of modern enterprise applications.The failure is not just for web applications, traditional methodologies are not a perfect match for mobile application development as well.

Enterprises are now looking for more stable, less complex, minimal efforts, no coding and highly flexible methodologies for app building. Rapid Application Development or RAD, which had gained popularity in the early 80’s, has answered the enterprise clarion call by successfully delivering applications at the speed of business.

What is RAD?

The Rapid Application Development model aims to build applications faster using an iterative development process – repeating the development stages as required, where there is a divergence of developer and customer conceptions. The RAD model follows quick implementation methods wherein features are exposed gradually and changes incorporated immediately.

It should be noted that though RAD projects are faster in development, it may not be suitable for mission-critical projects with complex mechanisms and voluminous data or if the technical architecture is unclear and tools used are complex. However, with the current generation frameworks and technology, modern RAD platforms reduce the time and effort to build good-looking apps that are up to enterprise standards.

rapid application development model

Rapid Application Development vs Traditional Methodologies

To understand why RAD has become a popular alternative to traditional SDLC, one should understand the various differences.

Parameter Rapid App Development Traditional App Development
Application Development Process Incremental and iterative. Different phases of development are revisited as required. Linear and predictive. Follows sequential flow of application development.
Team Structure Small teams with intermediate technology skills, good business knowledge and communication skills. Thin project management layer. Large teams with strictly defined roles and technology skills.Well-defined project management layer.
Productivity and Flexibility High productivity and flexibility due to iterations, end-user interactions and use of predefined elements leading to faster turnaround time and low waste. Low productivity and flexibility due to linear, rigid approach. Exhibits wait times and waste at each stage, leading to high cycle times.
Documentation Minimum viable documentation as the deliverable at every iteration is the code/app itself. Involves stringent documentation and reviewal at every stage of development.
Time and Cost Estimation Short duration projects with small variance in the cost estimation. Low maintenance costs. Medium to long duration projects with high costs. There are chances for additional increase because of reworking and maintenance costs.
Testing Testing is performed at every iteration. Testing is performed after completion of coding phase.
End User Interaction Extensive user interaction with reviews and suggestions on timely basis during every iteration and phase. User is involved at the beginning during the requirements stage and then in the end delivery during user acceptance stage.
Predefined Elements Use of predefined themes, templates, layouts and micro applications which are tested and ready-to-use. Elements have to be designed and constructed from the ground up as per project requirements and hence, are not reusable.


WaveMaker as a RAD Platform

WaveMaker makes use of the RAD model to provide a Rapid Application Development platform to create web and mobile applications. The benefits of WaveMaker Rapid Application Development Model have a direct bearing on the cost and schedule of enterprise application delivery. In fact, organizations that have used WaveMaker RAD application model have experienced:

67% faster application development than traditional software delivery

80% lesser coding required compared to traditional software development

75% lower maintenance costs than traditional software life cycle

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