Agile vs RAD vs Waterfall: App Development Methodologies Compared

By James Tredwell on June 5, 2020

The software applications have penetrated every nook and corner of our lives, from mobile apps to enterprise software solutions to e-commerce and business applications. Naturally, quality of software, development cost, time and resources, and user experience, all aspects of development repeatedly come under the scanner of evaluation. 

How software applications are developed or the methodology that is followed for developing software solutions is essential for determining the output. There are three major software app development methods in the market, including agile, rapid app development (RAD), and waterfall development. 

Here we are going to provide a detailed comparison of these three methods. 

What Is Waterfall Development?

The waterfall development model primarily came from the traditional engineering or manufacturing process. As per this method, the developers in the process follow sequential steps, and the later steps always depend upon the completion of the former steps. 

The waterfall method follows the below-mentioned sequence of events. 

  • Collecting all the requirements together and making detailed documentation that will be the basis of all future actions. 
  • The next stage is designed in which developers will create a form to accommodate all the user requirements from the app. 
  • The next stage is coding the core application. 
  • Now the testing of the codes and units will begin.  
  • At the next step, testing the app in the hardware system and user acceptance will be carried out. 
  • Now, all the issues found so far will be fixed. 
  • At last, the finished app will be delivered for customer use. 

Pros of Waterfall method 

  • Easy management with specific goals and review for each stage. 
  • Fast-paced delivery of the software project.
  • Ideal for small-sized software projects with fewer complications. 
  • Fully documented and no scope for confusion. 
  • Development teams can easily adapt to the practices.

Cons of Waterfall method 

  • As testing is done at the end of the project, rectifying and rebuilding takes a lot of time and resources. 
  • As it follows initial documentation, it may or may not meet end-user expectations. 
  • The waterfall method is slower and more resource consuming. 

What is Rapid App Development (RAD)? 

Rapid application development (RAD) has emerged as the software development model to address the shortcomings of the waterfall model of software development. This model allows incorporating quick changes to the software.  

The RAD model has the following key attributes. 

  • It allows reusing code through a repository.
  • It facilitates faster prototyping.
  • It facilitates continuous client feedback. 
  • It is a great model for developing useful software applications as fast as possible. 
  • As it can incorporate client suggestions during the project, meeting client expectations becomes easier. 

Pros of Rapid Application Development (RAD) model 

  • Faster delivery time and minimum development cost. 
  • Enhanced client satisfaction with the minimum gap between client expectations and developer inputs. 
  • A great model for projects focusing on budget and rapid delivery.  
  • By consistently presenting working pieces of the product to stakeholders 

Cons of Rapid Application Development (RAD) model

 This model is less scalable and doesn’t fit well into large projects because large teams can not accommodate changes so fast in a project. 

  • It requires a higher commitment from developers and clients to communicate continuously on feedback and assessment processes.
  • This model is mainly user interface focused and is mainly used for prototyping to incorporate and evaluate changes based on client feedback. 

Agile Development Method

The agile method, which has been the most popular and widely acclaimed software development method because of its era-defining approach to addressing ongoing requirements and changes during a software project, is regarded to have a clear edge over all other methods. 

Let us have a quick look at the principal attributes of agile development methodology. 

  • The agile method presupposes that every software development project is intrinsically unpredictable, and demands for changes are quite unavoidable during a project. 
  • The agile method works by breaking a software project into small chunks of tasks called sprints. 
  • The software developers can drop or add any feature or design element through these sprints. 
  • The agile method allows for continuous evaluation and testing of the software application. 

Pros of the Agile method

  • The agile method focuses on efficiency and practical priorities instead of the documentation. This helps in optimizing performance and output. 
  • As Agile facilitates a very specific approach to the development needs and allows side by side development of various units and features through parallel sprints, faster time to market is guaranteed. 
  • The agile process allows incremental delivery of software by identifying issues and deficits detected early in the process. As quick feedback and reports continuously show the loopholes and shortcomings, the project has fewer risks. 
  • The Agile method ensures to meet with customer expectations better while addressing the issues and shortcomings continuously. This is why the large and complicated projects for ensuring customer satisfaction relies on the agile method. 

Cons of Agile method

  • The agile method requires experienced professionals who have previous working exposure with concepts such as continuous delivery, continuous development, and continuous testing. 
  • Because of the lack of documentation, less experienced developers sometimes feel a lack of guidance about the project’s final outcome. 
  • An agile method, much like rapid development, relies too much on client interactions and feedback throughout the development process. Naturally, if the customer isn’t taken into confidence about the features and requirements at every stage, the project can be derailed or out of tune with the agile process. 
  • Agile method suits mostly complicated projects with large developer teams. As of now, agile has been proved to be less suitable for smaller and low-budget projects.  


While the Waterfall method has already been outdated except being adopted by a handful of small projects, both RAD and agile methods are continuing to dominate the software development space. The Indian app developers company increasingly becoming versed in collaborative and fast-paced development protocols such as DevOps.

Contact Us for Free Consultation

Are You Planning to outsource Digital Tansformation services? Feel free for work-related inquiries, our experts will revert you ASAP,