That's RAD!

By Jeffrey Yazdi posted 06-25-2010 09:33 AM


As a society we are now trying to do more in less time, and speed is in some cases our main objective. Deadlines can sneak up on you like a windshield on a bug. When deadlines are quickly approaching what methodology can your team apply?
Not a new concept, but a proven effective one, is ‘RAD’. No, not the term used to say 'cool' or 'awesome' back in the 80's, but Rapid Application Development.
RAD = Speed + Value + Lower Cost
RAD methodology can get your technology out the door faster through:

•Using workshops or focus groups to gather requirements.
•Prototyping, Build, Prototype, Build.
•Re-using code.
•Following a schedule that defers design improvements to the next product phase
•Keeping review meetings and other team communication informal.

When we started our most recent project at UNC, Graduate Online Admissions Applications, we had a very tight deadline, and we needed a solid and scalable application that can handle multiple Graduate and Professional Schools.
So how are we doing this you ask?

1.Clearly communicating with stakeholders.

Ensure before moving forward with development that full approval by stakeholders, rather than "rubber stamp" agreements to changes, without their knowledge. Rework is not an option when facing tight deadlines.

2.Managing scope during release phases.

"Rome was not built in one day", so don’t make too many changes in one release. Changes to previously agreed upon requirements should be moved to the next release. So when your business user tells you “this is a very minor change”, even adding a few items because they are "small" or won't take "that much work" can be critical to success.

3.Using the Power of Prototyping

Prototyping during RAD is a technique for building a quick and rough version of a desired functionality.

•Allows your key stakeholders to verify requirements in a “working” environment
•Use the prototype as means to “fully” understand requirements
•Explore and solidify the functions and design
•Answers to your questions in a collaborative environment

In conclusion, when faced with tight deadlines your customer will, of course, want to design and develop as fast as possible without compromising on scalability and maintainability. RAD is a process used to encourage business owner’s interaction through the use of prototypes as the functionality is being developed.
So next time you are faced with a deadline crunch follow the steps outlined by Tom Mochal of (Examining the life cycle of a RAD project) when applying RAD to your project:

•Planning: plan the work first
•Analysis: capture the business requirements
•Prototyping: Utilize the requirements you received in the previous step to build a high-level prototype of the application
•Repeat analysis and prototyping as necessary: When you’ve completed the initial prototype, you can use it to gather additional, more detailed business requirements from the customer
•Conclusion of prototyping: project manager and customer need to agree on a fixed number of prototyping iterations or else this cyclical process could go on forever


Terry Bramwell | Consulting | Deloitte Inc. | D: 902 721 5559 | C: 902 225 4284 |