Waterfall vs. RAD: Which Methodology Wins?


Waterfall vs. RAD: Which Methodology Wins? waterfall vs rad

Waterfall methodology is one of the defining software development methods that follow traditional software development practices. Rapid Application Development (RAD) on the other hand, is a great iterative approach that falls in line with the demands and pacing of modern software development.

So, how do you think waterfall vs. RAD would turn out? That’s what we’re here to find out. But before we begin, we need to look at the pros and cons of each before getting into the final comparison.

Pros of the Waterfall Model

  • Objectives are more simple and easy to align for all teammates
  • Helps to strictly adhere to specified project timelines
  • Planning takes priority over predictability
  • Testing parameters are specified before the development phase begins
  • Offers better control and departmentalization for project managers
  • Since all steps are predicted, the project is far easier to manage
  • Helps avoid objective or process overlapping since one phase doesn’t begin till the previous one is over

Cons of the Waterfall Model

  • High delivery time
  • Doesn’t change direction from the original plan
  • Often requires a hard reset in the case of a plan change
  • Clients or users aren’t involved in the development process
  • Not a great methodology for working on complex projects

Pros of the RAD Model

  • Drastically reduces development time
  • Customization is far more accessible
  • Clients and users are actively involved in the development
  • Allows for improved feedback loop
  • Development components are reusable
  • Allows multiple changes in different iterations

Cons of the RAD Model

  • Human error elements can cause developers to skip over important steps while rushing to reach a deadline
  • The entire project relies on the skillset of the developers
  • Constant meddling of clients and users can interfere with the development cycle
  • Can only be used to build modularized systems
  • Different iterations can get highly expensive

Waterfall vs. RAD – Ultimate Comparison

NameAlso known as the Traditional ModelAlso known as the Iterative Model
Risk LevelHighLow
GoalCreating software with high assuranceDelivering software through rapid iterations
Waiting TimeWaiting time for running the application is too high in most casesThe waiting time for running the application is much lower
Team Size RequirementsRequires a larger teamTeam size can be increased or decreased according to progress
ChangesAny required changes can only be implemented in the planning stages, otherwise, the process is highly expensiveChanges can be made at any stage of the development cycle
DeliveryThe product delivers once the entire cycle is completedRAD model offers early deliveries and updates the software as required through feedback collection
Time To Reach Ready StateA software is ready to run only after the development has endedThe software is ready to run right after the first iteration
Customer ControlCustomers have near zero control during the development processCustomers control the development through feedback
FeedbackDoesn’t take feedback from customers or clientsRequires constant feedback to update product
Ideal ClientsPrecise product owners who have a specific idea of their demandsProduct owners who are great communicators and who only have a big picture of the product
Project Management MethodAlways stick to the time and deadlines specified during the early planning phaseHighly adaptive method that constantly changes to fit the current needs
Tech StackDoesn’t change once the specifications are madeA new tech stack can be brought in anytime to adapt to the latest trends
Feature ManagementEvery feature in the primary plan is includedOnly includes features that can solve core pain points of the target audience
CostCosts are fixed since the plan assumes there won’t be any changesCosts can change depending on the number of iterations

When To Use The Waterfall Model

  • When the project is short
  • When you have a precise idea of the requirements due to prior experience
  • When you have a budget you don’t want to exceed
  • When you want to have higher amounts of control over your project

When To Use The RAD Model

  • When you need to develop a functioning software in as little time as possible
  • When you have a large-scale project to work with
  • When you’re looking for a development model that can adapt to sudden changes
  • When you’re building software of which the requirements are unclear
  • When you want to create a user-centric product by involving them in the development process

To Wrap It All Up

While the RAD model has more use cases in modern software development scenarios, waterfall is still a great method to efficiently create small-scale projects with great precision.

Regardless of the methodologies you choose as your final pic, Impala Intech is here as your trusty software development partner to help you achieve your development goals.


What Are the Key Phases in the Waterfall Methodology?

The key phases in Waterfall are Requirements, Design, Implementation, Testing, Deployment, and Maintenance.

How Does RAD Methodology Handle User Feedback and Changes?

RAD methodology incorporates user feedback and changes through continuous iterations.

Which Methodology Is More Likely to Encounter Scope Changes?

RAD methodology is more likely to encounter scope changes due to its flexibility.

Which Approach, Waterfall or RAD, Is More Predictable in Terms of Project Timelines?

Waterfall is generally more predictable in terms of project timelines.

What Role Does Documentation Play in Waterfall and RAD Methodologies?

Documentation is extensive in Waterfall and more concise in RAD.