Waterfall vs. Rad: How to Pick the Right Method for Your Project You'Ve Heard a Lot About Each of These Development Methods, and Maybe You Prefer One over the Other. but How Do You Choose the Best Method for a

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Waterfall vs. RAD:

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The waterfall and rapid application development (RAD) processes are not the only two methodologies available, but they generally predominate among methods used to deliver projects. Each has its individual merits, but sometimes one method is more appropriate for a particular project than the other. In this column, I will look at when to select each of these approaches.

As I mentioned in prior columns, I believe most, if not all projects, can be delivered with the waterfall methodology: plan, analyze, design, construct, and implement. In contrast, not all projects are candidates for RAD. Perhaps the best starting point is to take a look at some project characteristics that govern which method is best.

Details on waterfall and RAD methodologies To find out more about the methodologies, read these articles: •"Examining the life cycle of a RAD project"
•"How does the waterfall development methodology play in the enterprise?"

How big is the project?
One of the basic tenets of RAD is focusing on smaller projects that can be launched quickly and concluded with tangible deliveries. However, not all projects can be broken down into smaller pieces because they are too complex and interrelated to be split up effectively. There is no rule of thumb to determine how small a project needs to be before it is a candidate for RAD, but the larger you get, the harder it is to use the RAD model.

On the other extreme, if you have a small project to begin with, you might as well go quickly through the traditional waterfall process. If the requirements are not overly complex, document them all at once and be done with it, rather than go through a series of prototype steps to discover them all.

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