How Rapid Application Development Empowers Small Businesses

What is Rapid Application Development and how does FileMaker enable it?

What is Rapid Application Development?

Rapid Application Development (RAD) is a software development methodology used to deliver quality business solutions in the shortest time. RAD methodology is tried and tested, having been used by larger companies for many years. Today more and more small to medium companies are using it to develop new applications quickly to increase their competitiveness and improve customer communications and services.

For these businesses minimising the development time is important as they do not have the necessary resources for a protracted development cycle. Time scoping and building new systems pulls staff away from their ‘day job’ and ultimately impacts the bottom line. Therefore they need to get new systems operational and ‘earning’ for the company in the shortest space of time.

Claris FileMaker is an ideal tool to use in RAD development as its low code approach means that ideas can be developed quickly and changed easily when compared to other development tools. This gives the flexibility needed to gain maximum advantage from using a RAD approach and the quickest Return on investment (RoI).

How can it be used

Rapid Application Development opportunities include:

  • Developing a custom solution for almost any business system, one which addresses your business challenges in a way which delivers 100% for your business
  • Web-based applications created faster and with less code
  • Mobile apps completed in a few days instead of months, if not years
  • Developing a Proof of Concept system for larger systems quickly and cost effectively so that ideas can be tested before expending time or money potentially going down the wrong route

How Do Businesses Benefit from RAD?

Businesses can easily benefit from using RAD, they can create applications quickly, with less code and can be frequently checked by user feedback. Getting your new app into production sooner also ensures that your Return on Investment (RoI), is maximised and the benefits can be realised as quickly as possible, especially when compared to launching a large and traditional waterfall-based project to make changes.

In this way, Rapid Application Development supports fast growth and evolution for businesses.

As an example,  it’s June and you have a requirement to develop an app by November ahead of an anticipated Christmas buying spike. Using a traditional project management method such as a waterfall approach which prioritises requirements gathering and planning upfront, mean that the app likely won’t be available or bedded-in in time and you may fail to meet your business needs.

Instead, using RAD, you can prioritise your key requirements to deliver these and subsequently make changes using regular updates. In this way, your business applications can evolve with you; a crucial detail for small businesses. Claris FileMaker is the ideal tool for this as once the systems framework is built it is easy to change and can even be done by super users rather than developers.

The RAD approach also allows for frequent feedback from and collaboration with users and stakeholders. This helps you improve the app by basing changes and improvements directly on the user experience and user satisfaction. This approach also has the added benefit of improving staff morale as team members feel like their needs are recognised and actioned. If you involve clients and partners, it can also benefit by increasing customer service and satisfaction. Claris FileMaker’s multi user access level approach means that you can share different aspects of the system to different user groups easily. So people only see what you wan them to see.

RAD’s benefits don’t stop at how the system is developed. When deployed properly, it also includes frequent testing of the incremental changes, meaning that you are able to identify bugs a lot sooner when compared to a single larger software release.

One of the common problems encountered by small and medium companies when implementing a custom application is having the time and resources to scope the requirement to the nth degree. This inevitably means that there is always an element of ‘scope creep’. The RAD approach is agile-based, the app’s Scope of Work is not set in stone and can constantly be updated and add functionality as you need it. Of course this needs to be done in a controlled manner as it may impact the dime to deliver and the budget required.

Finding the right partner

Given that the decision to develop a new custom application for your business is a critical one, one which will have an impact on your business for years to come, taking the RAD approach is a good way to proceed.

Finding the right partner to work with when developing it will be key. Here at Compass Data, we can help you by taking a consulting approach which concentrates on your business goals and success. Something we have done for many others over the last 20 years. Our  development and business analysis teams have successfully helped many companies build the right system for their business, in market sectors ranging from Finance to Manufacturing, Charities, museums and performing arts.

Our approach starts with one question: how will your new application address your business challenges and ultimately improve your business? From there, we collaborate with your team to learn more about your business needs, the user experience required and to decide the best approach so we can deliver the perfect system tailored to your unique needs first time, on time, and on budget.

Contact our team to learn more about how we can help you scale your business with the solution you need quickly.