Comparison of Agile Vs. RAD for Custom Application Development

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( — February 27, 2020) — App development is a common task for modern businesses. According to Clutch, almost half of small businesses have an app while an additional 30% plan on building an app in the future. This means that companies that don’t have an app risk falling behind the industry trend those apps have created. 

There are plenty of ways a company can go about app development. For example, they can consider an in-house development team or defer to an apps company to outsource development. 

Another concept to consider is the methodology that a development project will use. This includes two popular options: agile and RAD methodologies. These approaches are very similar but they differ in key ways. These differences are crucial in deciding which approach is right for your company’s next project. 

How Agile and RAD Methodologies Differ 

The Use of Prototypes

Prototypes are smaller, more basic models of a big idea. They represent what the small, moving parts of a project are working towards and what they may look like when they’re working in the big picture. 

The RAD model encourages development teams to frequently create prototypes to represent ideas. Later, they can refine these ideas into a polished concept. The agile methodology, on the other hand, doesn’t encourage this practice largely due to its emphasis on speed. This is also partially because it opts instead for the development of incremental features for later, further-developed iterations. 

Collaboration Differences

Both an agile approach and the use of RAD methodology put a heavy reference on collaboration between the development team and stockholders and consumers. However, the way that developers present the check-ins differs between the two techniques. 

RAD methodology uses the prototypes, it encourages making to demonstrate progress and ideas to their collaborators. An agile methodology approach depends more heavily on incremental developments to demonstrate a team’s ideas rather than taking time to create working prototypes. 

The Refining Process

One of the biggest differences between RAD and agile methodologies is how the development process breaks down. 

RAD methodology focuses on creating the app quickly, in broad strokes, and refining it later on. By opposition, the agile methodology depends on polishing smaller aspects of an app as they’re built. As developers finish each aspect, they are as polished as possible as they’re finished. Of course, developers still test the app in full as it’s finished. 

Management Process

Development teams have to break down the management process for their projects from the beginning of the development process. Who will teams answer to? Will they answer to a third-party at all? 

In RAD development processes, teams work under a project manager. During a development process using agile methodology, teams manage themselves. The agile methodology also puts a heavier emphasis on teamwork over the work of individual team members. 

Team Makeup

Different development teams may also vary in what areas of expertise that different team members cover. RAD methodology relies heavily on technical team members such as actual software engineers dedicated to direct development. Conversely, teams using agile methodology are often more inclusive and include non-technical members such as analysts and experts on user experience. 


Agile and RAD methodologies are similar in many ways. They both put a large focus on quick but efficient development with the end result of a successful app. However, they differ in the details of the internal design of teams, managed, collaborate, and tackle the details of the development process. These are differences that developers should consider when nailing down the process they’ll use while they develop their next app.