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On App Development: To Go RAD or Low-code?

Updated: Nov 28, 2019

By: The QuickReach Team

Rapid Application Development (RAD) and Low-code development are two advanced options to do fast and easy development of web or mobile business applications. But as to which platform is better or fit for an organization depends on the targetability of the desired app, the knowledge and skills of people involved, and on how much stakeholders are willing to spend.

When aspects and features of RAD and low-code are listed, it may seem at a glance that both platforms are just the same and some might even suspect that the IT world is only doing semantics.

For instance, the types of people involved in using RAD and low-code are almost the same i.e. experienced developers (coders, engineers), non-technical or citizen developers like businesspeople, including end-users. Also, both platforms enable developers to create apps with less or even no coding, applying only drag-and-drop functionalities. So what is the difference?

To get a grasp of the difference between RAD and low-code is to know how participants do the "developer" role in each platform. In the RAD methodology, technical people take the lead in developing an app, while in the visual development approach like low-code the businesspeople or non-technical users are the main developers with expert coders as a backup.

To understand more let's delve into the details:

RAD is a Workshop

Rapid Application Development is actually an active app design workshop among seasoned developers, software engineers, and business analysts all working together with the participation of end-users. The RAD model is intended to produce and reproduce prototypes reusing tools, processes, and code.

RAD's system development lifecycle is iterative, allows for rapid prototyping until app design and function goals are satisfied. A prototype app is treated like a cake being baked while observed and tasted by customers (business analysts, end-users, and stakeholders) on whose feedback and suggestions are applied and satisfied by the bakers (technical developers).

The RAD principle may not be practical if literally applied in the mentioned cake baking analogy and other non-IT projects but the methodology is very much feasible in software development since production and reuse of templates are software and not hardware like those used in a housing project.

Significant progress in software development environments has made the RAD workshop of different concerned individuals possible, allowing them to work in a digital construction site of an app being built where errors are detected and corrected in the process. Compared to traditional methods, the creation of apps are completed in weeks and not in months or years.

Amir Ghahrai, founder of software testing education and news website Testing Excellence, touts RAD as a “try before you buy” approach to software development.

"The theory is that end users can produce better feedback when examining a live system, as opposed to working strictly with documentation. RAD-based development cycles have resulted in a lower level of rejection when the application is placed into production, but this success most often comes at the expense of a dramatic overrun in project costs and schedule," Ghahrai wrote.

RAD is deemed effective for automating processes designed to be adjustable and tweakable when the need for change arises. Some business processes that can be automated via rapid application development are reimbursement, leave applications, and accounts payable. For more details about RAD and its usability read Quickreach's previous article "Rapid Application Development (RAD): What is it and when should you use it?"

The Low-code Development Approach

As cited above, the main distinction of low-code development compared to rapid application development (RAD) is how non-technical people like business analysts or users who know little of coding take on the "developer" role.

Tagged as "citizen developers", the non-technical developers can create an app through low-code's visual development approach that enables business users to design and create digital solutions (web, mobile, or chatbot) with little development knowledge. These solutions seek to replicate existing processes in a digital format, automate processes that don’t require human intervention, and ultimately enable 24/7 self-service access to both employees and customers.

Developing an app through the low-code approach is even likened to the user-friendliness of drag-and-drop software tools that allow for easy creation of websites.

A low-code platform offers a more integrated approach to RAD, allowing the production of a full range of app types for disparate use cases – whether it’s extending the value of legacy systems, or business process automation, or enabling customer self-service.

With a low-code process automation platform, business users can configure forms, processes, reference data tables, and reports without writing a line of code. In addition, this type of platform enables users to integrate with existing core systems, to extend and expand the value of technology investments.

Low-code process automation offers an affordable, agile, and fast way to roll out digital solutions in a company to stitch together processes and systems and create seamless experiences for internal and external stakeholders.

The Low-code Advantage

While the RAD model is adaptable to changes, it has more strict requirements compared to low-code.

Basically, the success of the RAD methodology majorly depends on the high technical skills of the developers which small businesses may not be able to afford. In the low-code space, even non-technical people can develop apps through its visual approach and drag-and-drop components.

Teamwork is inevitable in doing the RAD model and so it requires the commitment, availability and constant communication of all members with various positions in this workshop or else the project would fail. In contrast, low-code the platform allows the business users themselves to turn their ideas to actual app prototypes.

Since low-code is more affordable it is likely to be an OpEx instead of CapEx.

Low-code also frees up the internal IT team to clear their backlog even as enhancement and maintenance are faster and easier.

Customer experience, which is vital to any business, can be more easily achieved through the low-code process automation. Companies are not only enabled to implement simple apps and tools internally first but can expand the features to include apps or chatbots that let customers conveniently access services anytime, anywhere. Feature sets can further be expanded to include the full customer journey.

What QuickReach Can Offer

Intelligent process automation platforms like QuickReach empowers companies to stitch together existing processes with new and existing systems to provide the right digital customer experience. These platforms have design thinking-led features that let users design customer journeys, map out the people and processes required to deliver these experiences, and identify, assemble, and connect the necessary technologies to bring these experiences to the digital space.

Intelligent process automation enables organizations to start digital transformation in the right place. QuickReach works internally and involves specific portions of a customer experience that is most challenging. Supporting digital services to customers and other external parties with manual internal processes, or creating solutions that cover an entire customer journey can be a recipe for disastrous digital transformation rollout.

QuickReach's offers solid security to shield your company from elements that can curb its growth.

Once an existing business has been fully digital and experiences of employees and current customers have been fully optimized, the company can then innovate further and transform their entire organization. Intelligent process automation platforms like QuickReach can easily help initiatives that tap new markets, new geographies, and new business models.

Lastly, QuickReach also provides metrics needed to measure the success of digital transformation initiatives – whether it’s experience scores, digital traction metrics, or ROI analytics.

See how you can transform your sales, finance, HR, office, and IT. Feel free to try QuickReach by signing up for a free 7-day invite-only access here or connect with one of our team members from the Customer Success team here.


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