The goal of most software development companies and their clients is software production at the lowest cost, with the best quality, in the shortest time. Proper planning and management of the development process with the right methodology is important to achieve such a goal.
There are lots of software development methodologies which propose different ways to achieve the desired result at a fair cost and short delivery time. These methodologies set up the framework that structures planning, controlling, and developing information systems.
This article is a spotlight for the popular software development methodologies, their advantages and disadvantages. Below is a comprehensive list of the methodologies employed today in most software development companies.
- Agile Software Development
- Scrum Development
- FDD: Feature Driven Development
- Lean Development
- XP: Extreme Programming
- Waterfall Model
- Prototype Model
- RAD: Rapid Application Development
- Dynamic Systems Development Model
- Spiral Model
- JAD: Joint Application Development
- Rational Unified Process Methodology
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Software Development Methodologies: a Comparison of Pros & Cons
What drives the choice of a software development methodology? This choice is always relative to the requirements of a project. In addition to this, project type and size, the skills of team members, financial resources and preferences are also valuable considerations.
Let’s take a look at our top list of methodologies and see why software development companies opt for these approaches.
Agile development is one of the most popular approaches in the IT world today. Besides that, numerous software production methodologies are based on agile principles. However, they slightly differ. Keep pace, some of them we will describe in this article.
By itself, the agile software development approach is mainly focused on a finished product with collaborative efforts. It involves short-term software development cycles called iterations. Each iteration is well organized and similar to a mini software project usually lasting from one to four weeks.
The iterations contain tasks such as adding new functionalities, requirements analyzing and planning, designing, coding, testing, and documenting. As the number of iterations increases, the development team reassesses the project and prioritize the backlog. It is a good practice that helps to ensure the product release and have a better version at the end of every iteration.
- The agile development process delivers a high-quality output because small iterations involve easy test and maintenance with fewer errors.
- It allows for creative improvements and modifications during the development process. Developers get to explore various modifications with the code.
- The approach of agile methodology is adaptive with low dependence on initial documentation. Applied changes don’t disrupt or have setbacks on the project.
- Costing and Budgets are well planned. The agile process requires project estimation before each iteration.
- Due to the focus on clarity, there are regular interactions and communication amidst the client, developers and members of the production process leading to a good working relationship.
- Lack of initial clarity and project vision due to inconsistency in product specifications.
- No set or strict project deadlines. Changes in specifications and requirements will mean no accurate estimate deadlines for project completion.
- The challenge of estimating the resources required for a project. Unpredictable changes make it hard to estimate the costs and resources needed for a project.
- Lacks efficiency in documentation.
Scrum is the most famous Agile software development process framework. It is empirical in nature and can be applied to any fast-changing or priority emerging requirements.
In scrum iterations are named sprints. As a software development process, it kicks off with a brief planning for each sprint, followed by daily scrum meetings that highlights the project progress, and ends with a final review.
Scrum methodology is ideal for managing projects with not well defined requirements and feedback from the client. Teamwork, transparency, and regular status updates allows to speed up the progress of the project.
- The team makes the principal project decisions.
- The daily meetings promote the measure of individual productivity leading to the improvement in efforts of every team member.
- Scrum methodology discovers problems fast, resulting in short meetings and easy focus by the team.
- Prioritizing of customer-driven features with Scrum is flexible. Business requirements documentation is not compulsory for successful development.
- Clients are in the production cycle as there is always something to assess after every sprint.
- The Feedback cycle is fast, helping the project to stay focused.
- It is not an effective method for junior or middle-skill team members.
- The estimation of time and cost demands high accuracy for a project to be successful.
- This methodology is less effective for large project types.
This is another iterative methodology but in combination with object modelling. It is effective for large team projects. The first step in this method is reviewing the scope of the system. After the review, next is the creation of domain models in details for every feature, and then the scope of the system is reviewed all over again.
The merging of all the domain models leads to an overall single model. Software development with this method involves five processes which are: developing the complete model, making the list of features, planning, designing, and building by feature.
- This methodology is suitable for big projects with a guarantee of success.
- Its five-step process of development helps in accelerating software projects with ease.
- FDD supports multiple teams working in parallel.
- The standards of this method ranks with the best industry practices.
- Feature-driven development covers for all projects that need sequential updates.
- The resulting features are always greater than the inputs.
- It provides almost no project documentation for project owners.
- Based on the efforts required, it’s not suitable for small projects.
- It’s too much a complex pattern of development for individual software developers.
- The success of this methodology solely depends on the project leader and his skills.
The Lean methodology is focused on the development of low budget software that is change-tolerant. Adapted from lean manufacturing, it maximizes resources by developing software with one-third the trio of funds, human efforts, and production time. The workflow of lean is minimal, and all forms of excesses such as meetings, documentation, and so on are cut.
- It is efficient for budget control.
- It allows to speed up the development process. Most projects are completed in short time frames beating deadlines.
- The Lean methodology in its working process empowers the development team, motivating them to build acute decision-making abilities.
- To benefit from time and budget, all decisions must be accurate and final.
- To keep the project focused on the plan, flexibility is restricted to avoid unnecessary deviation and time loss.
- Teamwork, discipline, and advanced skills are basic requirements for the success of this approach.
- The business analyst on a lean project must have adequate set of skills and experience for proper requirements documentation.
Extreme Programming or XP also refers to agile methodology. The main aim of this model is to create a fully-functional product and cut the cost of software non-essentialities. It is a perfect fit for complex projects with fixed deadlines and not clearly determined requirements. Continuous planning and testing are one of the core principles here.
Extreme programming is most suitable for creating software in an unstable environment. This method gives the provision for developers to deliver a final product at a lower cost. At the same time, it is time-consuming with a lot of human effort due to the frequent meetings, test-driven approach, and pair programming.
- It is a method cost-effective for software development.
- Customer’s involvement and interaction are parts of the production process.
- There is a focus on practical planning and task scheduling. This makes developers stay committed to a project.
- Works well for small and large teams.
- Effective risks management increase the chances of success.
- A practical quote for this method is almost impossible because of undetermined and changing project requirements.
- It requires frequent meetings and reviews between the project participants leading to expenses and time consumption.
- It involves too many changes in code which are tedious for some developers.
- Changing initial requirements at a later stage with this model has a high cost.
With its introduction in 1970 by Dr. Winston W. Royce, the waterfall is the most traditional methodology in the IT industry. It is a classic approach and a very popular version of the system development life cycle in software engineering. The project goals are pre-defined for each development phase.
It is linear in nature with all projects progressing in stages. The completion of one stage precedes the other. This methodology is rigid because once a stage is complete, no reversible changes can be made based on new requirements.
- The waterfall methodology is quite straightforward with no complexity in use. It requires little or no experience.
- Testing is simple because it’s based on the use-cases defined in the technical specification.
- Time-saving, in this methodology, the stages are processed and completed one at a time.
- It is an effective method for small projects in cases where the requirements are well defined.
- There is easy management due to the rigid nature of the waterfall model with each stage having a separate review process.
- There is a fixed deadline for each of the development stages.
- Maintenance type of projects does not apply to this method.
- The software under production only becomes functional at the last stage of the cycle.
- It is best used with only well-defined requirements available up-front.
- There can be no edits or changes once a project advance to the testing stage.
- It’s an ideal method for small and medium-size projects but not a long-term or research and development projects.
- Not applicable for projects that tend to have modifications in the production process.
The strength of prototype methodology is that it caters for all the lapses of the software engineering process. According to this model, developers initially make a prototype of the software solution. They visualize how it will run and prove its function to investors or clients.
The developers subsequently make all the needed modifications in readiness for developing the final application. This approach gives room for understanding the requirements of software development and conducting useful business analysis.
- This method allows the identification of risks and the correction of errors at the initial stages of development.
- Developers and testers working on a prototype can easily scale it with the anticipation of the client, see if they are on point and make changes if need be.
- It is the best way to present and demonstrate the software product to a client or an investor.
- Requirements gathering and analysis is easy in a case where requirement document is absent.
- It benefits developers with the chance of getting valuable feedback from testers at an early stage of the development cycle saving unnecessary cost after launch.
- The relationship between the client and developer bonds better as a result of constant communication resulting from this method.
- The initial result of a prototype is never the market-ready product.
- Constant changes may lead to several designs and alterations in the code. This slows down the workflow.
- In some cases, it is the software vendor that covers for the cost of a prototype.
Rapid application development, as the name implies, delivers speedy results with high quality. This method is complemented by the participation of active users in the development process.
Software product development is made faster and of great quality by using focus groups to gather requirements, prototyping, user testing, reusing software components, continuous reviews, and informal communications.
- Tasks for functions are done separately and then integrated into the project. This minimizes the errors encountered in the development process.
- Regular testing in this method also eliminates the chances of drastic errors.
- Customer feedback is beneficial, it assists in maintaining and improving the quality of software solution.
- The client has constant access to review the software development process.
- The Rapid application development is not practical for projects with low budgets.
- It needs a strong professional team to identify, interpret, and create the client’s requirements.
- This process is beneficial to only software projects with systems designs that can fit into modules.
In comparison with the rapid application development, the dynamic systems development model possesses similar features. The main principle of this model is that perfect software is achievable through a constant changing process.
Iterative in nature, it is goal-oriented with other major characteristics like flexibility, lightness, and continuous development. With a focus on user involvement, this method aims at the development and provision of software models based on a specified budget and deadline.
- Easy to use with access to end-users by developers.
- Basic functionality is developed faster with the aid of dynamic systems development methodology.
- This methodology involves end-users a lot in the software development process establishing a super understanding of the system functions.
- Projects using this method are always in the range of budget limits and timeframe.
- Not so popular as a model because of its complexity.
- It is only effective for companies with a small budget or one time projects.
The Spiral lifecycle model seems highly sophisticated. It functions by the early identification and reduction of risks in a project. Beginning on a small scale, it encompasses risks exploration and the provision of plans to eliminate such risks.
It then indicates if the next level of spiral iteration can begin. In contrast to the waterfall model, the spiral method enables the developer to make changes in the code or design even in the testing stage. It is suitable for most kinds of projects but requires good management.
- It involves extensive risk analysis leading to very minimal risks.
- This method is effective for developing high-risk and large projects in general.
- Features and functions can still be added even at late stages of testing. The Spiral model revolves all the phases repeatedly, thereby enabling changes.
- It is a waste of resources for projects with low-risk factors.
- The success of the approach is dependent on risk analysis. If the risk analysis is faulty, then the software project can be flawed.
- There is a risk factor of the development being inconclusive, resulting in a spiral manner without a conclusion.
The Joint application development methodology is most suitable for business software solutions. However, it can be effective for all kinds of development projects.
The development and design stages of software production involve interactive workshops. In these workshops sessions, the software system is defined by the developers and end-user or client.
With special attention on the user stories and use cases, it’s a popular methodology for automating a growing business. Due to the user precipitation in all the stages of production, it’s a favorite for high client satisfaction.
- High-quality software can be created fast with a low tendency of error.
- It has the perfect avenue for solving challenges with different points of view.
- The sessions provide adequate information for project research and analysis in a short period.
- JAD sessions create insights through the exchange of valuable information between the users and developers, making it an effortlessly proficient method.
- Expected results of the client are often too high.
- The commitment of the end-user is some worth proportional to the success of the method.
- The success of the projects done with this method is tied to high skill level and work experience.
- This method is time-consuming for any project development team. It mandates planning and lots of meeting fixtures.
Based on object-oriented and web-enabled program development, the rational unified process methodology is considered as a modern approach. It functions by splitting the process flow into four different parts. These parts are namely analysis and design, business modeling, deployment, and implementation.
Developers are facilitated with specific tools such as templates, guidelines, and sequential processes with examples for all the stages in the software development process. This approach constantly monitors the quality of software created and controls applied changes.
- The recycling of used components speeds up development time.
- There is no separate timeframe for integration as it’s a continuous process throughout the development.
- It effectively manages risks related to changes in requirements by a process known as change request management.
- There is an emphasis on documentation.
- The use of recycling components is not always possible for projects that require the latest technologies.
- Unsuitable for new users as it requires expert skills.
- The stages in this methodology sometimes can be complex and difficult to organize.
- Projects with multiple development streams could be confusing due to continuous integration, especially during the test phases.
Thinking of the Best Methodology for Your Software Project
From industry experience, all the Software development methodologies are more functional with certain project types. Different types of complexities in a project will demand different experts and level of experience in the method of choice.
Considering that no method is a hundred percent perfect, developers must analyze all the pros and cons. Another set of factors to consider with great importance are budget, project scope, available resources, time frame, and preference.
Velvetech’s has always been a pacesetter in software production by applying the most effective development methodologies in different project types. Contact us today and kick-start your project with capable project managers, and a team of developers with resonating skills, and experience.