You wouldn’t build a skyscraper or bridge without establishing thorough, well-defined requirements in advance, as everyone involved needs to know precisely what they’re doing during each step of the process in order for things to run smoothly. And while these structures have very specific uses that are highly unlikely to change at any stage, business application development requires an entirely different approach because of constantly evolving processes.
Unlike a skyscraper or a bridge, an app is subject to “fluctuating market conditions”, meaning its entire architecture and design could be rendered unsuitable at any time during development. For this reason, many developers adopt Rapid Application Development (RAD) for greater freedom in defining the app’s requirements and shaping it throughout the development process.
Here we look at what exactly RAD entails, its business benefits, and how EASA can help you harness this approach for your own organization.
RAD is an agile software development model that rose to prominence in the 1980s. It was created as an alternative to the waterfall approach, which specifies a project’s exact requirements before proceeding to the development stage (like the skyscraper example). However, this isn’t always well-suited to business application development projects. Once software passes the stages of development and starts being tested, it becomes extremely difficult to modify its main functions and features using the waterfall approach. RAD ensures this isn’t the case.
Those following the RAD approach focus on rapid prototyping and feedback instead of a drawn-out development and testing cycle. Rather than carefully generating and assessing complex specifications and designs, the planning stage is a lot more compressed. This gives developers a general framework to create “minimally viable” app prototypes as quickly as possible. While these may not meet all of the necessary requirements at first, this process enables stakeholders to better define their specifications as they go. The prototypes can then be continuously molded according to specific feedback. Think of RAD as working with clay rather than steel, where the development process is more drawn out and flexible, thanks to user feedback, instead of following a strict plan.
This flexible approach that RAD creates means developers don’t need to restart the development process if requirements change — something that’s inevitable due to the ever-shifting environment in which a business app must operate. Once everybody is happy with the prototype, the testing and deployment phases can commence. This model also enables businesses to develop apps much more quickly in comparison to the waterfall approach.
A waterfall approach risks developing apps with features that, after deployment, turn out not to be needed. Not only is money wasted on ultimately unnecessary features, the time spent building these is lost forever — which could have been spent productively elsewhere. This therefore harms a business’s bottom line. RAD reduces this risk as developers have the “wiggle room” to create the exact app required with no capabilities that are surplus to requirements.
As RAD re-uses components for each prototype, there’s less need for manual coding at each stage. This reduces the possibility of errors in the final app and reduces testing time.
As well as being able to adapt to the ever-changing requirements of an app throughout the development process, RAD also allows businesses to harness new technologies that emerge during this time. This would be harder if following the waterfall model because it’s much more difficult to go back and change the prototype.
EASA is a platform that facilitates custom application development, which allows businesses to effortlessly embrace the flexible framework that makes RAD so effective. This was how we helped GE Energy, the world’s leading wind turbine suppliers, streamline its site feasibility study process, which was originally highly manual and incredibly time-consuming.
Using EASA, GE were able to harness RAD and develop a web-based system called Wind ITO (Inquiry to Order). This is a custom application which integrates Oracle with analysis tools such as Excel and MATLAB, as well as several proprietary algorithms. The result? GE successfully simplified these processes so they could produce more proposals in a fraction of the time. This not only saved the company money in IT resources and man hour costs, but enabled them to make more money, faster.
By using EASA for your own business, you can follow in GE’s footsteps and create customized applications, embracing a RAD approach to do so quickly, effectively and inexpensively. The fact that EASA is a low-code platform also means citizen developers (those without significant coding expertise) will be able to develop the app, making life even easier for your enterprise. Don’t hesitate to contact us today to discuss how our software can help your company.