The utility of using a RAD-type development approach for a large, complex information system
Cardiff Metropolitan University
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Rapid Application Development (RAD) is an iterative and incremental development approach that evolved to address problems associated with the more structured development approaches such as the Waterfall Model. Even though RAD is becoming an increasingly accepted development approach, much of the existing literature focuses on small to medium sized development projects. There is considerable debate about its application for large, complex IS development arenas. This research utilises a development project currently being implemented within UK Regional Government as a case study. It represents an atypical opportunity to examine the utility of RAD within a large, complex IS development, presenting the real-life context, experiences and commentary from individuals directly involved. An interpretive stance is adopted to gain a broad view of the organizational environment of the IS and the wider external context within which the information system is related. An ethnographic approach was selected enabling a richer and deeper interpretation, and a more comprehensive understanding of the issues under investigation. This methodology included non-participatory observation, indirect observation and informal semi-structured interviews. It also involved multiple strategies of data collection and analysis to facilitate cross-checking and to yield stronger substantiation of analysis. The thesis examines the cultural aspects inherent in the studied environment that impacted severely upon the project. It further explores a number of other issues held problematic for large and complex development arenas: managing user involvement and expectations, communications, requirements elicitation, decision-making and testing. Analysis of the case study material has aided the production of a model of critical success factors that could be applied to other such environments adopting a RAD-type approach. Thus it contributes to the field of IS knowledge by informing the debate surrounding applicability of RAD across large, complex development arenas.
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