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RAD, or Rapid Application Development, is a design model that is used to develop software and information systems in as short a time as possible. This is accomplished by focusing on streamlining the build process, called the "development cycle." This goal is accomplished by defining distinct components.
The RAD system is split into four separate phases: Requirements Planning, User Design, Construction and Implementation.
The first stage in the RAD process is Requirements Planning. This stage involves reviewing the areas that are clearly necessary to the system being built. The review creates a solid overview, covering the requirements and outlining the functions performed by the system.
When properly executed, this first stage should produce a model of how the proposed system works. It should also clearly define the extent of the system, including its capabilities and limitations. Finally, it should justify the costs necessary to complete the model system.
The second stage is called the User Design stage. This covers an in-depth look of business operations that relate to the system being designed. The users who will be employing the proposed system analyse how data is used and how this use affects the flow of operations from a business standpoint. This step is designed to eliminate ideas that work in theory but are inefficient in actual practice.
From this study, an outline of the system is clarified. The flow of how users will actually interact with the system is designed, including sample screens and procedures. By the end of this step, the general idea behind the new system begins to transform into a specific plan.
The third stage is called Construction. At this point, small groups of developers work alongside users to finish the system design and begin building it. This construction allows designers to program key parts of the system and immediately test features with user feedback. As key pieces of the system are built and tested, the overall project comes together.
As new software is constructed and tested, any necessary instructions and procedures are created. These guides are used by end-users when the system is finished.
The fourth and final stage is Implementation. At this point, the new software system is finalised and installed. If previous versions of the system are in use, connections are built to upgrade to the new version and transfer older data. Users are trained in the operation of the finished software, and the system process is complete.
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