Adapting to clients’ changing requirements is the greatest challenge to software developers, according to a study that surveyed over 150 development companies.
Additional challenges: missed deadlines and exceeded budgets.
Opting for one software development methodology and sticking to it can help solve these issues.
In this article, we’ll look into seven leading software development methodologies and their pros and cons, then establish how to find the one that’s best suited for your needs.
An often overlooked and underestimated part of software development is choosing a methodology that is most fitting for the project at hand.
Factors such as project cost, deadline and software requirements play a role in determining how the software project will be executed.
Software development methodology is a predefined approach of processes that defines the route to be followed for successful delivery and deployment of the software product.
The benefits of establishing a specific software development methodology and project framework are:
Let’s take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of the seven most frequently used software development methodologies.
This innovative software development methodology is based on evolutionary development, flexible response to change and improvement through adaptive planning.
Agile development creates software solutions over shorter time frames called “iterations.” Each iteration can last between one week and one month.
Using this process, teams of developers, designers, engineers, marketers and stakeholders all provide their input during regular brainstorming sessions.
While agile software development has flexibilities, it is a very disciplined management process that allows alterations while the project is underway.
This type of software development usually results in fast software release with a lower risk of bugs and minimized impact of other issues such as cost overruns and changing requirements.
This software development methodology is the traditional and most common software creation process.
Quite opposite to Agile, it is linear and strict and requires developers to complete the current stage or task before moving on to a new one.
Waterfall stages gradually flow into each other and developers do not return to the previous stage to handle changes in requirements.
This method’s life cycle flow assumes the strict sequence of completed tasks.
Waterfall’s linear process simplifies software engineering tasks. Waterfall software development is best suited for smaller projects with well-defined requirements.
Scrum methodology is a multi-faceted approach applicable to any type of software project. It is most suitable for developing projects with rapidly changing requirements.
It begins with brief planning, continues with daily stand-up meetings - or scrums - during which the progress is reviewed and closes with a final review.
This speedy software development consists of multiple work iterations - or sprints - needed to create the required product.
The greatest advantage it has over other processes is that it brings even the slow-progressing projects on track very easily. Scrum software development is designed for teams of three to nine members who can complete the project in two weeks’ time.
This software development methodology creates software solutions that are easy to edit and change.
Lean is a flexible, strategically focused process with an objective of the fast creation of software when there are a limited budget and minimal requirements.
The lean methodology applies principles of lean manufacturing to software development in order to decrease programming efforts and defect rates. It has a solid conceptual framework and offers developers strong principles based on established rules.
This software development process requires specifications to be examined to the last detail beforehand in order to eliminate any wasted time or budget.
Its core component is value for the client, which makes the role of feedback and fast action crucial.
Rapid application development (RAD) is a methodology that provides fast and high-quality results. Its main objective is to accelerate the process of software development through active user participation.
As a subset of agile methodology, RAD puts emphasis on user feedback in favor of planning. This process uses the assistance of other development methodologies to focus on fast prototype releases and iterations.
The quick feedback which RAD projects receive makes early elimination of errors possible, leading to desired outcomes.
Usually, RAD methodology consists of five stages:
This software development methodology is best suited for big teams that work on project-oriented or object-oriented technology and organizations that are moving from stage-based to iterative approaches.
Feature-driven development combines several software development practices and methodologies into one. Its main objective is to focus on organizing software development around its features and delivering working products quickly.
Rational unified process (RUP) methodology splits the software creation process into four phases that all contain business modelling, analysis, design, implementation, testing and deployment.
RUP’s flexible life cycle consists of these four phases:
Each phase has its own goal. RUP’s main objective is to achieve fast results by using the assistance of other methodologies.
This adaptable process is object-oriented and allows developers to find suitable guidelines, templates and examples for all aspects and stages of development. Teams can tailor this framework according to their own organization.
As a result of adjustable fast prototyping and iterations, developers get quick feedback and can eliminate errors on the go, reaching optimal product outcomes.
The choices are there - but how do you know which software development process is right for you?
These five tips can help you decide:
Before deciding on one software development methodology, you should consider the flexibility of your software specification.
For web and app development, in which changes are frequent along the way, Agile approach is ideal. Waterfall is a good method for a classic software development process in which predictability and stability in all phases are present.
If your target audience is diverse, there will likely be a huge amount of requests to include new features in the software after the launch. For this scenario, Agile method would be the most helpful as it lets you take a step back and edit your product.
On the other hand, if your software is targeting a controlled group of users, there will likely be a fixed set of requirements, making Waterfall method ideal.
As we’ve seen, each software development methodology requires a certain number of developers in the team. The number of developers will depend on the scale of the project.
Big projects will require a more elaborate project management plan. These orderly plans are best suited to the streamlined Waterfall methodology.
If the time frame for software development is long-term and there are no deadlines in sight, Waterfall methodology is the best choice.
However, for developments that go through sprints, with deadlines fast approaching, Agile and other iterative-based methodologies are the most fitting choice because they make the release of partially finished products possible.
Accountability, coherence and coordination are all very important if you’re working with an outsourced remote development team. In these scenarios, a rigid development method like Waterfall is best.
Agile, feature-driven and rapid application development methodologies require a lot of meetings and frequent discussions with teams that work closely together. They are a better option for software development teams that are near you.
Choosing a software development methodology that is right for your project before the process begins is important because implementing methodical changes down the road can be difficult.
Knowing the software requirements and the scope of the project are two of the most important factors that will inform the type of methodology you will use and help you find the software development team that’s right for you.