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Is RAD SDLC Killing Traditional Application Development?

Team Kissflow

Updated on 11 Mar 2024 3 min read

The software has come a long way since punch cards and assembly language. From long syntaxes to low code, application development has gone through a lot of transformations over the years. But the methodology of developing the very same software has also changed.

In the beginning, everyone followed the structured waterfall model, a development model that entailed long planning, development, and testing times to ensure the quality of the end product. But a traditional SDLC (Software Development Life Cycle) like the waterfall model takes a lot of time and isn’t particularly keen on changes mid-cycle. Developers and end users need an alternate method to create software that was faster and more receptive to mid-cycle changes.

RAD, or Rapid Application Development, promised those very changes. But what are the fundamental differences between RAD vs. traditional software development? How does the RAD model fit in SDLC, and where does it shine where deliberate planning doesn’t?

RAD SDLC, Are They as Effective?

Rapid application software development life cycle also known as RAD SDLC makes software development faster by tightening the loop between feedback and development, so there’s less of a communication gap. In addition, through every single iteration of the development cycle, the prototype isn’t focused on delivering an end product, but on ensuring a specific feature or functionality is made so the user can test it and give relevant feedback.

As the name suggests, Rapid Application Development (RAD) is designed with speed and efficiency in mind. But those same traits mean rapid application development isn’t suitable for prolonged projects with a lot of work involved. But rapid application development is perfect if you need to get a product out immediately without having to worry about readiness and polish.

Finally, when you’ve created all the features, you produce the final product by taking all the prototypes and adding the necessary features to the end product. The rapid application development methodology ensures the user is always kept up to date about how far along the software is, and the developer always knows how to proceed with the user’s feedback.

The four stages of RAD SDLC

Typically, developing an application through RAD SDLC encompasses four crucial steps:

Defining requirements

In this stage, stakeholders discuss the high-level requirements of the application. The stage is not as elaborate but is vital to the ultimate outcome of the project. Discussions are kept brief at this stage owing to the nature of RAD—requirements can change with time.

Rapid prototyping

Developers, designers, and testers work together to develop a working prototype of the application. The purpose of this is to present an initial beta model of the app for the client’s approval. This is also a great time to get a client’s initial feedback and make iterations.


The construction stage is a crucial stage of development where teams work tirelessly to convert the beta model into a working system. Most bugs, issues, alterations, and feedback is addressed during this stage, making the construction the longest phase of RAD development. 


The final stage of RAD app development involves deploying the working model into a live production environment. Scale testing and documentation are crucial parts of the deployment phase. Teams additionally spend time debugging the app and running final maintenance actions before final deployment.

The Differences Between Traditional SDLC vs. RAD SDLC

Traditional SDLC

Rapid Application Development

Long planning cycles to gather requirements, development, and testing.

Shorter development, planning, and testing cycles.

Requires a rigid approach and usually strictly follows pre-planning requirements.

Adopts a flexible approach and is able to add functionality at any stage of development.

Does not account for user feedback in the development phase.

Focused on shortening planning phases and takes user feedback into consideration without breaking down development.

Is meant for large-scale and complex projects.

Not ideal for large-scale, lengthy, and costly projects.

The flexible nature of rapid application development makes it incredibly useful, almost invincible in a business environment where software needs pop up on a daily basis.

Why Rapid Application Software Development Life Cycle Is Perfect for Businesses

In business, people have new requirements for software all the time, and most of those requirements are small, encompassing one or two features.

Instead of having a large team go through a planning stage, check the feasibility, start development, then go through testing, and finally deliver the end product, you could choose a rapid application development software.

In a traditional SDLC, the end product could take months, if not years, to come to the user, time the user doesn’t usually have. But in rapid application development, the product is continuously shown to the user so he/she can give the necessary feedback to improve it. At most, you’ll have a few people working on it for a few weeks. The time and effort-saving nature of rapid application development makes it incredible for businesses.

How Kissflow Uses Rapid Application Development

If you’ve been working on improving processes and automating workflows in the workplace, you don’t want to take months to improve a single process or workflow. Kissflow adopts the rapid application development methodology by allowing rapid development and iteration so you can let the user test the efficacy of the application. If they have any changes, you can make those on the fly.

The level of control Kissflow gives you makes it perfect for any business environment looking to maximize productivity and improve their processes.


Rapid application development is not a one-size-fits-all solution. There are certain situations where RAD is not the answer. The RAD model in SDLC is one option for extremely fast development.  Ultimately, rapid application development is meant to be an alternative to traditional SDLCs, not a replacement. If you’re looking for a faster method to develop process applications, try Kissflow RAD. Kissflow lets you make workflow automation and process efficiency easier by allowing quick development and zero testing. Try Kissflow for yourself with a free trial and see if it fits your organization.