Is Traditional SDLC Being Killed by RAD?


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Software has come a long way since punch cards and assembly language. From long syntaxes to low-code, software development has gone through a lot of transformation 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 with RAD vs. traditional SDLC? How does the RAD model fit in SDLC, and where does it shine where deliberate planning doesn’t?

RAD Tools, Are They as Effective?

As the name suggests, Rapid Application Development (RAD) is designed with speed and efficiency in mind. But those same traits means 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.

Rapid application development 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 ensuring a specific feature or functionality is made so the user can test it and give relevant feedback.

Finally, when you’ve created all the features, you produce the final product by taking all the prototypes and adding the necessary features into the end product. 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 Differences Between Traditional SDLC vs. Rapid Application Development

Traditional SDLCs are defined by long requirement planning stages, extended development and testing times, and very rigid adherence to pre-planned requirements. A project cannot be stopped in the middle to add in some new functionality, much like you can’t stop building a skyscraper to add in some new design.

Rapid application development differs by being extremely flexible. The modular nature of the code written ensures you can add in any functionality at any stage of development without breaking the whole thing down. But the downside is you can’t use rapid application development with large teams and complex projects that cost a lot and take up a lot of time. Rapid application development is best used for smaller projects where development and feedback can be tightly integrated without having to sift through dozens of emails. Instead, you can walk up to the user and ask what they thought was terrible.

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 Development 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.

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