RAD and Agile: what is the difference?

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If you are looking for developing software more often, there is a tool you may check. You’ve already heard about Scrum, Crystal, DAD, etc. But what about RAD?

Is there any connection with Agile methodologies? In search of agility and quality in software development, some methodologies are capable of enhancing the performance of professionals involved in their processes.

Therefore, companies have increasingly adopted these methodologies to help them achieve their goals.

RAD is a project management strategy, focused on short deliveries and rapid prototyping. But there is more. In this article, you will know what means RAD, its features, and its bond with Agile Methodologies.

What is RAD?

RAD is an acronym for Rapid Application Development created by James Martin.

This methodology is widely used for software development. However, it can also be adapted and used to develop and manage other projects.

So, we can say that RAD is a kind of agile method used in project management as well as Scrum, Kanban, Disciplined Agile, and Extreme Programming. In this framework, the user and developers must go hand in hand to ensure that all needs are met.

The application modeling and generation phases are for different teams. This division optimizes time, in addition to the reuse of ready-made modules that make the development meet tight deadlines. Finally, the integration of these components takes place.

The RAD has a great capacity to enhance the performance of the team’s professionals. Some other advantages are:

  • time-saving
  • measurable progress
  • work with models
  • faster systems integration
  • constant feedback

How does RAD work?

This framework allows a high level of customization of the developed resources and also allows high adaptability. As it is an iterative method, at each stage of development, there is a prototype.

One of the main pillars of this methodology is the communication between clients and developers. It is vital that the customer can communicate their wishes and opinions after testing the prototypes so that the development team can adequately adapt.

Unlike other methodologies such as Scrum, RAD does not define specific roles performance. It only requires the presence of open and efficient communication between those involved in the project.

As it is an agile project management tool that pays great attention to communication and short deadlines, it is common for the teams that develop under the RAD method to be small. Thus, you can avoid the loss of information.

When this technique is transposed to other realities, it maintains the quality of the speed of delivery.

After delivery,  you can deliver what the customer assesses. Depending on the case, you can adjust it, depending on the scope of the project.

What are the main differences between RAD and Agile?

As mentioned, rapid application development emphasizes rapid prototyping rather than more expensive planning, contrasting with Agile’s focus on production time.

While RAD and Agile emphasize early software delivery and continue to accommodate ever-changing requirements, even in late development, Agile goes one step further. Therefore, it prescribes your methods, working environments, and ideals.

Thus, we can conclude that the RAD methodology is much more flexible, it emphasizes quality results exactly and in time, without further rules.

Group of businesspeople working with laptop at a meeting

Agile is a term the IT industry uses to describe a unique method of project management. Its goal is to help teams provide quick and unpredictable responses to the feedback they receive, but its development takes a little longer.

In this system, opportunities are created to assess the direction of a project during the creation cycle. Teams meet frequently to evaluate the project. And there are the following values:

  • the focus is on people and their interactions rather than processes and tools;
  • collaboration with the customer that more value than the contracts themselves;
  • working software is more important than comprehensive documentation;
  • the process should not strictly follow a plan, but respond to changes.

Agile’s culture differs from other ways of working in that its focus is on the people who are working and how they work together.

The aim is for solutions to evolve through collaboration between cross-functional teams, using the appropriate practices for their context.

What are the phases of a RAD project?

A RAD project has an incremental development and, at each stage, there are additions of features and modifications. In this way, the result becomes flexible to needs and feedbacks.

Thus, the development phases are:

  • Business modeling;
  • Data modeling;
  • Process modeling;
  • Application generation;
  • Testing and Modification.

1. Business modeling

In this phase, you will define the features of the business, that is which contains data from who generated it, where the data goes and how the processing is done.

2. Data modeling

Next, data modeling answers the questions relevant to the features. The information flow made in the previous phase is refined.

3. Process modeling

In this step, you transform the data from the previous phase into objects to implement functionalities. The ways processing will handle the information described.

4. Application generation

Next, you can use tools to generate program components. In this case, it is common to make use of existing tools and reuse components from other programs. The main focus is functionality.

5. Test and modification

Finally, all tests will carry out to ensure the proper functioning of the project. In case of identification of errors, you can make the necessary corrections and new tests.

As this methodology is extremely flexible, other authors define different types of phases for a project that uses RAD in its development.

What are the advantages?

With the RAD, the teams have space for flexibility. Furthermore, when designing a job within a tight deadline, using the RAD is the most appropriate choice, as you will produce from a perspective that aims for instantaneous actions and results.

Through it, it is possible to achieve at least the production of functional parts of systems, good enough for immediate use and solving issues where customers needed software yesterday.

Another benefit of using RAD is the close relationship with customers it provides.  User feedback is essential to its full progress, this step is important to not look at it. RAD relies on constant improvements suggested by users. Therefore, you need to ensure they are available to collaborate with your development team during every step of the process.

Whether you need to build an in-house business tool or a customer-facing portal such as an app or website, RAD will help your team deliver an even better user experience.

About tasks that cannot depend on prototypes, that is, cannot fail, a RAD approach would not be interesting, such as:

  • flight controls;
  • implant firmware;
  • massive finance or accounting systems.

Having defined the key points of both models, we can determine which projects benefit from RAD, as well as situations that are worth investing in the Agile methodology.

RAD has become a standard model of approach for the development and execution of software projects. Especially since it allows companies to keep up with the cycle of innovation and interruption that is shorter and shorter, as well as being more cost-effective.

Its concept is a series of tools that facilitate rapid prototyping, a highly interactive approach, and working on low-code platforms. This makes the RAD methodology a vital tool in the dynamics of modern organizations.

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Leonardo Salles

Copywriter for GitScrum.