Understanding and Choosing Software Development Methodologies

Which software development methodology is the right choice? There are many options available, but it all depends on the team and the project.
September 29, 2022
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The Top 10 Software Development Methodologies

A software development methodology is the processes and use of different methods that allow companies to streamline their workflow during development. Generally, these methods break down the workflow into smaller steps to enable teams to individually focus on each step and give their undivided attention to it.

It’s difficult to pick the best development methodologies since no one methodology fits everyone’s use. Every developer has a different process they like to follow, which is why some developers may like a particular methodology while others don’t.

Many software development technologies released over the years help teams create better software and aid them in the development process. Below are the top 10 software development methodologies in use today:

  1. Agile Development Methodology
  2. Waterfall Development Methodology
  3. Prototype Model
  4. Lean Development
  5. Rapid Application Development (RAD)
  6. DevOps Development Methodology
  7. Extreme Programming (XP)
  8. Dynamic Systems Model
  9. Scrum Development
  10. Feature-Driven Development (FDD)

Advantages and Disadvantages of the Top Software Development Methodologies

Agile Development Methodology

Agile recently became one of the most popular software development methodologies. Unlike the conventional and linear methodologies, Agile uses a different approach and aims to aid the developers instead of forcing rigid procedures on them.

Agile breaks down tasks into smaller milestones that take about one to four weeks to complete. The developers also utilize effective communication, constantly seeking user feedback and making changes to improve the software.

Pros

  • Minimum bugs due to constant feedback
  • Effective communication between team members
  • Addresses any changes to the project quickly without delaying timelines
  • Improvement in the overall product quality

Cons

  • Less emphasis on documentation

Waterfall Development Methodology

The Waterfall development methodology gets used to this day despite its decades-old approach. It’s a simple methodology as it breaks down the project into smaller steps and arranges them in a linear, sequential way. It flows like a waterfall through all the stages of project development, hence its name.

Waterfall is popular because it’s easy to understand for new developers and teams with less design experience. When using Waterfall, developers must complete each stage before moving on to the next one. Once they complete a stage, the developers can no longer go back to it.

Pros

  • Linear process means it’s easy to understand
  • Each stage is properly defined, meaning there is less chance of miscommunication

Cons

  • The project is only tested at the end
  • Less flexibility of this model means it’s not suitable for complex projects

Prototype Model

The Prototype model allows developers to work on prototyped versions of the final product instead of designing the complete software. The prototype is then used to gather customer feedback, which helps improve the product quality.

The constant feedback loop from the customers means the project goes through many iterations of its prototype before deciding on the final version, which the customer accepts. The Prototype model is popular because it allows for the evaluation and implementation of the product idea before the actual development begins.

Pros

  • Suitable for detecting issues early on before the development begins
  • Allows teams to see that the customer is happy with the product idea before the actual development starts
  • Encourages detailed information

Cons

  • Many prototypes and constant testing hurt the project timeline in some cases

Lean Development

Lean development utilizes the lean manufacturing principles of Toyota to increase productivity. Its guiding principles allow developers to skip nonproductive tasks and focus on developing the actual product.

Lean methodology also allows developers to make informed decisions by knowing all the facts and figures before they decide on anything. This Toyota-inspired methodology aims to establish an efficient system that includes effective communication with the team to identify and fix any bottlenecks in the process.

Pros

  • Reduces wastage by removing redundant tasks and documentation
  • Lean principles minimize the cost of development
  • Efficient development shortens the project timeline

Cons

  • Overwhelming for less experienced developers

Rapid Application Development (RAD)

Introduced in 1991, RAD methodology focuses on getting the project development completed in minimal time without affecting the quality of the delivery.

The RAD framework has four major steps: project requirements, prototyping, testing, and implementation. Like the Prototype model, RAD focuses on gathering the project requirements and building prototypes to ensure customer satisfaction before the actual development begins.

Pros

  • Customer feedback through prototyping ensures the project is up to the customer’s requirements
  • Regular feedback also reduces risks
  • Reduces the time required for development

Cons

  • Requires experienced developers

DevOps Development Methodology

DevOps development methodology acts as a set of practices that fit organizations. It allows for effective communication between different teams working on different parts of the development cycle such as development, quality assurance, and operations.

Pros

  • Improves time to market
  • Lowers the failure rate of new releases
  • Highly reliable 
  • Helps improve customer satisfaction and product quality

Cons

  • Some industries require excessive testing before the project can proceed to operations
  • Different departments have to use the same environment or issues slip into production.

Extreme Programming (XP)

Extreme Programming, or XP, works based on the Agile development processes and focuses on developing high-quality software using the best software development practices.

XP focuses on simplicity in development, effective communication, and consistent feedback allowing for frequent releases in a short time.

Pros

  • Reduces time to market
  • Effective communication
  • Feedback from the customer
  • Flexible

Cons

  • Requires high customer involvement

Dynamic Systems Model

The Dynamic Systems Model is similar to RAD because this methodology focuses on completing the project on time and with high satisfaction from the client. It has four iterative design phases: business and feasibility study, functional model, design and build, and implementation.

Customer feedback is constantly considered and implemented during the project, reducing the risk of the customer not liking the final deliverable. This development methodology also includes detailed documentation.

Pros

  • Iterative approach ensures the project meets the basic requirements
  • Increases time management and budget control for the developers
  • Effective communication between developers and customers

Cons

  • Sometimes expensive to train the developers and users
  • Not suitable for smaller teams

Scrum Development

The Scrum development methodology is one of the most flexible methodologies available. Based on Agile ideology, it involves three major roles: product owner, scrum master, and the development team.

The product owner’s job is to take input from the client and ensure that the development team fulfills the client’s requirements. The scrum master ensures that the team members are familiar with the Scrum process.

Pros

  • Cost-effective
  • Effective communication
  • Short iterations allow quick problem-solving
  • Daily meetings ensure regular checks

Cons

  • Requires equal skill level from all team members
  • Increases time needed for development

Feature-Driven Development (FDD)

Feature-driven development (FDD) breaks down all of the development requirements into a list of features that are easy to follow. Developers go through the process of planning, designing, and building each feature individually. This way, the developers can complete each feature within two weeks, giving them more control over the project timeline.

Also based on Agile, FDD features the goal of making the process simple to prevent confusion that often leads to costly reworks.

Pros

  • Divides tasks into more minor features that are easier to accomplish
  • Allows multiple people to work on a project simultaneously without confusion 

Cons

  • Not suitable for small projects

How to Choose the Best Software Development Methodology

Choosing the right methodology is sometimes overwhelming. The following tips may help companies choose.

  1. Requirements Flexibility – Before deciding on a methodology, teams should consider the requirements of the project. 
  2. Project Size – Some methodologies work best for large-scale projects, while others are more suitable for smaller projects. Teams should evaluate the size of the project as a factor in deciding the right methodology.
  3. Time Required – Some methodologies help reduce the time to market for projects. If the project is on a strict time schedule, that’s definitely something to keep in mind while deciding.
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