In the previous article, “Enterprise Software Development on OutSystems Low-code Platform”, we discussed the benefits of low-code development using the OutSystems platform for businesses. In the article, we want to raise the issue of the most important aspects of enterprise development – speed and flexibility.
For financial companies, speed and flexibility are among the key criteria for successful software development. The thing is that many factors influence the work of the financial industry:
- external – new trends in design, new conditions in legislation, pressure from competitors,
- internal – changes in terms of service, internal processes.
And that’s not to mention that every year there are a multitude of new innovative and flexible fintech startups stepping on banks’ toes and eating away their market share.
In such conditions, it is vital to be able to quickly adapt to changing conditions. Change or die! This is the slogan of the years to come for the banking industry.
In the article, we will review, in detail, the task with which our customers come to us most often – the ability to quickly create and implement applications in the corporate ecosystem.
This tactic is called Rapid Application Development.
Why should banks consider Rapid Application Development (RAD)?
Research by Geneca addresses this question perfectly. The company interviewed 600 IT business people and found that:
- 75% of the IT leaders admitted that almost all projects are doomed to failure from the first stage of development.
- 80% stated that at least half of the time spent on the project was dedicated to reworking the functionality.
- 78% said that business representatives should be more involved in projects, which will provide an opportunity to develop software that meets business requirements.
- Only 55% clearly understand the business goals of their customers.
- Less than 20% think that businesses need a clear definition of requirements.
Looking at these figures, it becomes obvious that substantial changes are needed in the field of corporate app development. Those who change their tactics will win. Financial companies definitely should consider the Rapid Application Development methodology. This approach solves all of the mentioned above technical and business issues both for back office and front office applications.
What is Rapid Application Development?
Rapid Application Development is a form of agile methodology. It focuses on quickly getting the result you need and is best suited in two cases:
- Developers are limited by budget and/or time.
- There are no strict requirements for the product.
Development is faster because specialists use the appropriate technical means and regularly clarify the customer’s requirements. In addition, a key element of RAD is a joint assessment of the result with the stakeholders.
Most characteristic features of RAD:
- quick feedback from the business or end-users,
- frequent release of prototypes or updates,
- breakdown of the project into sprints,
- flexible change of requirements.
You can’t apply Rapid App Development to any particular development model. RAD is an idea. Its essence is that we win because we consider development as something flexible, capable of quick change.
Rapid Application Development methodology
According to the RAD methodology, the development process is divided into 4 stages. These are steps designed to build a great application with minimal risk.
Define the requirements
Before starting development, stakeholders discuss project requirements, determine a budget and a deadline, set goals and calculate expectations. In the approach of RAD, neither stakeholders nor developers spend a lot of time on developing complete and detailed specifications.
The main principle of the RAD is the freedom to change requirements at any time while still working on the application. During the first stage, the “essence” of the application is determined, and its vision is formed. So the requirements are put forward according to this “essence” and “vision.”
At this stage, designers, developers, and business users work together closely. They create working prototypes of the application that meet all the product requirements or its parts.
After developers release the prototype and the beta version of the product, the stage of collecting feedback from users begins. The goal of this step is to improve the prototype version and make the product as useful as possible.
A curious fact: sometimes what was originally conceived by customers is completely unclaimed at this stage.
Having collected the feedback, the specialists return in step 2: taking into account all the changes and new requirements, a prototype is created again.
Delivery of the project
Having received positive feedback on the prototypes, the developers are finishing work on the project. They optimize the application and provide service stability.
At this stage, app developers perform such jobs as integration with the necessary systems, writing of documentation, maintenance, and support. All for one purpose: to release the application.
OutSystems as Rapid Application Development Tool
As we mentioned in the beginning, recently we have published the article “Enterprise Software Development on OutSystems Low-code Platform”. There we described in detail the advantages that companies receive in developing applications using the low-code platform OutSystems.
Now, we will focus on another important advantage of the platform – it is an excellent tool for Rapid Application Development.
All the platform’s functionality is honed for work on the RAD methodology. OutSystems is an excellent rapid mobile and web app development platform and provides all the necessary tools to quickly create enterprise applications.
But what really sets OutSystems apart from other platforms and makes it completely dedicated to Rapid Application Development is the ability to integrate with any service. This greatly enhances its development.
Another feature of OutSystems is that with the help of the platform you are brilliantly able to create prototypes and process feedback for each separate feature. And this is a fundamental requirement in RAD.
What’s essential for RAD to work?
If your organization wants to apply a Rapid Application Development approach, your development team should wisely consider the following requirements.
- Close collaboration between the business and developers
The foundation of RAD is the active cooperation of the customer with the developers. If the customer isn’t involved in the work, doesn’t show any interest in the project, then RAD is not the best idea.
- Experienced Project Manager
Working without clear project requirements isn’t so easy, is it? An experienced project manager should always be at the head of the project. Without this person, development with a RAD methodology will turn into a series of prolonging changes without an end in sight. A completed working application won’t see the light of day.
- Available Senior developers
The RAD methodology assumes instant adaptation to new requirements. Therefore, this methodology is not the best option for novices. Only advanced level developers will work well in it.
- Medium size project
For development using the RAD methodology, medium size projects are suited best. For larger projects, this methodology is not suitable, since with a large number of requirements it is very difficult to make changes flexibly and fast. However, if the project is small, then it’s better to use another methodology.
Rapid Application Development benefits – the pay off
Though the RAD approach to corporate application development has its constraints, it pays off the efforts. If a financial organization is able to facilitate the approach inside its structure, the benefits will be quite immense.
Quick project delivery
Thanks to the iterative approach, continuous collection of feedback and the flexibility to make changes, a final version is achieved 10 times faster than with other methodologies.
Development cost reduction
The RAD model reduces the cost of application creation by up to 80%. Development time is considerably reduced, and in case of necessity for overall changes, the project doesn’t need to be developed from scratch.
Easier to make changes
Usually, numerous modifications in projects are not encouraged. Not in the case of RAD. In this development method, changes can be made even in the full swing of development.
Flexible adaptation of new technologies
If development is in full swing and it turns out that some technology can assist in solving the difficulties encountered, then it’s rather difficult to implement. There are too many risks associated with it because you need to go back and make changes to the requirements. With RAD, this issue is easily resolved – at any time you can adopt new technology.
More business engagement – better customer experience
The RAD supposes the active participation of the end-users in the project. Thanks to the collection of reviews and frequent updates, developers make sure they are delivering the product that the customers expect.
The best market fit
The main question of the Rapid Application Development model: what exactly does the customer need? The goal of the developers is to create a valuable and required product, and not another miracle application, which is unclear for whom and why.
With the help of RAD at an early stage of project development, certain risks can be uncovered. Early assumption of risk gives more time and possibility to avoid its negative consequences in future.
Rapid Application Development is an outstanding enterprise application development model. It considerably reduces the gap between the development team and business and can perfectly be embedded in a business leverage strategy.
In contemporary conditions, financial companies need to consider using the RAD model. It will help:
- avoid project failure,
- not to spend a huge amount of time on software development,
- to develop software that meets the requirements of the business,
- provide developers a clear understanding of the company’s business goals.
It is important to remember: if you meet all the required conditions, the RAD methodology will give you incredible speed up and flexibility advantages throughout the entire development cycle of your product.