When you decide to develop your product, whether an MVP application, or a complex system, sooner or later the question of software development process organization arises. Every software has its own lifecycle. A product goes through the stages in different ways. And there are special software life cycle methodologies to manage this process.
Should you rigidly plan all steps and do everything gradually? Or is it better to work in short iterations, monitor the result more often, and make corrections faster? All this is determined by the methodologies of product development, where each of them has its own advantages and disadvantages.
In this article, we will tell you about the most popular of them and share how to choose the right one.
What is Meant By a Software Development Methodology?
A software development methodology is a system that defines the task order, methods of evaluation, and control. There are many different models of such a process, each describing a different approach. And the model choice depends on the project area, budget, and timing of the final product. Any model has stages through which a product goes from the beginning of creation to the end of development and implementation. Most often these are preparation, design, creation, and support. Stages can be called differently and broken down into smaller stages.
The approach determines the success of the project because without a correctly chosen development methodology it is difficult to achieve stable and safe product work. Therefore, project managers try to find the best option.
What Are Software Development Methodologies Used For?
Specific things are implemented through the chosen methodology. It is what determines how development will take place. There are many successful methodologies for creating software. So the choice of a particular methodology varies depending on the team size, project specifics and complexity, on the stability and maturity of the processes in the company, and employees personal qualities. This is the basis for structuring, planning, and controlling the information system development process.
Also, approaches to the choice of methodologies depending on the intended purpose of use. For example:
- as the desired state of IT project and IT company management
- to justify existing project management practices
- as a guide containing specific recommendations
- as a set of requirements imposed by clients or partners
- to ensure effective dialogue between management and project team members
The chosen development model provides developers with a platform for effective team collaboration. It formalizes communication and defines the flow of information. Many IT companies today agree that using a software development methodology is critical to their staff.
Now we are going to talk about the most popular software development methodologies.
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This software model appeared as one of the earliest in development. The basic idea is that the stages depend on each other. The next stage begins after the previous one ends, thus forming a progressive movement forward. Teams from different stages do not communicate with each other and are responsible only for their phase. Quora users compare this model to a train that goes from station to station and can’t turn back.
According to PMI research, 12% of companies use the waterfall methodology on a regular basis, and 40% of respondents often turn to it. And according to LiquidPlanner, 25% of organizations use this model.
In reality, the waterfall model is not so easy. On the one hand, the development process is fast, with predetermined costs and timelines. But it is hard to imagine a project that would be realistic to execute strictly sequentially.
Therefore, the waterfall model is only suitable for projects with well-defined requirements and ways to implement them. Testing starts only after development is complete. So all errors are only visible at the end because of the strict sequence of actions. It is difficult to go back as it is not clear what to go back to. If a failure occurs at any stage, its consequences are only visible at the end.
The cost of making changes is high because you have to wait for the completion of the entire project. Subsequent changes will significantly increase the budget and delay the project release.
The V-model is an improved version of the waterfall model. It provides support in the planning and implementation of the project. And in the project course, the team sets different tasks. For example, it can be to minimize risks or to increase and guarantee quality. Or to reduce project overall cost and improve the quality of communication between the project participants.
A feature of the model is ability to verify and test a product that is in the initial design stages. Project control arises at each phase to make sure that it is possible to move to the next level. The testing phase occurs at the same time as the corresponding development phase, for example, during the coding phase when creating unit tests.
V-model is convenient when there are clear requirements and product smooth operation is important.
RAD Model (Rapid Application Development Model)
RAD is an application development methodology. Several teams develop components or functions in parallel, like multiple mini-projects. Basic functions are released, and subsequent cycles allow new additions to be added in the first phase. The process will only end when the system is fully implemented. The customer is involved from the early stages to obtain feedback and make changes.
RAD model includes:
- business modeling
- data modeling
- process modeling
- application build
This is a good choice for small projects. As well as projects with clear requirements, where it is possible to implement additional features. This approach reduces costs and minimizes development time. But if you need a large-scale system that requires a high level of planning, rigorous design, and adherence to developed protocols, then the model is not suitable.
RAD isn’t ideal for building complex computer programs, operating systems, or programs that contain a large amount of code.
In the incremental model, a project is designed, implemented, and tested with minor additions until the development ends. The underlying principle implies extending the capabilities, completing the modules and functions of the application. The development process itself is a sequence of versions, each of which is a complete and workable product.
Each iteration has its number, and the product has a version number after each iteration, e.g. v.1, v.2, etc. When one version works, the next version, taking into account the shortcomings of the previous one, is only planned or already under development. This is how minor versions with improvements appear. These are the changes that do not affect the development core and are presented as sub-versions or releases.
The spiral model is similar to incremental, but with an emphasis on risk analysis. All life cycle stages go in turns. It assumes 4 stages for each turn: planning; risk analysis; design; evaluation of the result, and transition to a new turn. This process reflects the essence of the name: going up, one goes through one spiral cycle to achieve the final result. And the same set of processes doesn’t need to repeat from turn to turn. But the results of each of them lead to the main goal.
Here it is possible to add additional functionality to the software even in the late stages of development. Suitable for large and expensive projects. For example, to introduce new product lines and conduct research.
Program development in the iterative model can start with the requirements for only a part of the functionality, which can be subsequently supplemented and modified. That is, the project consists of parts and passes through the stages of the life cycle at each of them. Each stage is complete in itself, and their totality forms the final result. This approach allows to struggle uncertainty and verify the correctness of technical or any other solution at early stages.
The model consists of several main phases:
- requirements definition and analysis
- design and engineering
- development and testing
- requirements revision
- suggestions for additions
The phases are repeated in each iteration.
Using an iterative model reduces the risk of failure and wasted budget and allows complete development at the end of any iteration.
Agile is a set of principles and ideas of agile development. The Agile movement began in 2001 in the Agile Manifesto – the result of a synthesis of those “development methodologies” by their authors. And in 20 years a lot has changed. Now Agile is rapidly spreading to all types and parts of organizations.
In this model, all stages of the life cycle go through in one iteration, ready for any changes. At the beginning of each iteration, the team evaluates and analyzes the results, and plans the next iteration.
According to Statista, in 2021, 31.8 percent of respondents said they use Agile/Scrum methodology in development.
The advantage is that after each iteration, the customer can observe the result. However, due to the lack of result specific formulation, it is difficult to estimate the labor and development costs.
The methodology goes with large, long-term projects with constantly changing requirements and adaptable to market conditions.
Scrum Development Methodology
Scrum is a software development system. This approach divides the workflow into equal sprints. Before the sprint, the team formulates tasks. In the end, they discuss the results and begin a new sprint. The sprints are very easy to compare with each other, which makes it possible to manage performance.
Each person involved in the process has a role. There is a Scrum Team that works on the project. The Scrum Master is the person who organizes the work. And the customer himself is the Product Owner.
Kanban Development Methodology
Kanban is a system that builds on the visualization of the team’s task process. The idea is to reduce the number of tasks in progress. The team performs tasks that are handed in individually. It goes through To do – In progress – Code review – In testing – Done. The task passes all stages on the board independently of the others. This approach allows to see the organization of the entire project and understand where the problem occurred.
At Techvice, we use Agile methodologies. Because of the ever-changing requirements based on user feedback, this model allows us to experiment and improve the product.
DevOps Deployment Methodology
DevOps is a software development methodology aimed at establishing interaction between programmers and sysadmins in a company. If specialists from different departments misunderstand each other’s tasks, the release of new applications and updates for them is delayed. Therefore DevOps forms a smooth development cycle, helping to speed up the release of a software product. Acceleration is achieved through the implementation of automation systems. Programmers are involved in setting up servers and finding bugs, for example, they can write automated tests.
In DevOps everyone is responsible for the end result. This means that the problem that arises is a shared one, and everyone should be as interested as possible in fixing it. Continuous integration and the use of automation tools help increase the efficiency of software development and operation.
DevOps will benefit any organization that develops software. This is true even if the company is a mere consumer of IT services and does not develop its own applications. Then using DevOps culture will help focus on innovation.
Almost 36 percent of respondents reported using DevOps for software development in 2021.
Feature-Driven Development Methodology
Feature Driven Development (FDD) is a methodology that combines the best of XP and Scrum with model-driven approaches. FDD has solved the main problem of being able to work only with small teams. FDD, on the other hand, is used to work on large projects. Development is done in short iterations, with each iteration adding a new feature. Unlike Agile, there is more emphasis on pre-modeling, reporting, and schedules. Constant reporting on the work done helps track progress and results, which allows project updates on a regular basis, identifies errors, and provides information to the client at any time.
According to the survey, 11% of companies use Feature Driven Development all the time, and 31% use this methodology occasionally.
The project’s success depends directly on the experience and knowledge of the lead programmer, where he plays all the main roles: manager, mentor, analyst, and so on. At the same time, the methodology is created for long-term projects; therefore, as the Stack Overflow residents note, it makes no sense to use it for small tasks.
Lean Development Methodology
Lean Methodology comes from Lean Manufacturing. Lean production implies reducing all possible losses, economical and reasonable approach to production resources. And it is not only about the time loss or finances and labor waste, but also the unrealized creative potential of employees. Lean methodology was applied to development by Mary Poppendieck and Tom Poppendieck, who wrote the book “Lean Software Development”.
Like all Agile methodologies, lean development is attentive to the needs and wishes of end users, so the redesigns themselves cannot always be written off as losses. Lean also places a strong emphasis on what is called a “system”. Namely, that the team works as a whole.
8% of companies constantly use the principles of Lean, and 26% often refer to them. In fact, Toyota was the first to use this system, and many other manufacturers have since adopted it.
Lean has seven principles that help achieve the goal:
- eliminate waste
- amplify learning
- decide as late as possible
- deliver as fast as possible
- empower the team
- build integrity in
- see the whole
Lean Business Report research states that among the ten benefits of the approach is the reduction of project costs – 27% of IT-companies have reduced costs after the introduction of Lean principles.
Extreme Programming Methodology
Extreme Programming is one of the flexible software development methodologies. The name of the methodology comes from the idea of applying useful traditional software development methods and practices, taking them to a new “extreme” level. The goal of the XP methodology is to cope with the ever-changing requirements of a software product and to improve the quality of development. Therefore, the approach is good for complex and uncertain projects. The XP methodology itself is built around four processes: coding, testing, design, and listening. In addition, extreme programming has values such as simplicity, communication, feedback, courage, and respect.
XP differs from other Agile methodologies in that it applies only to software development. It cannot be used in other businesses like Scrum, Kanban, or Lean.
The XP methodology consists of 12 practices:
- pair programming
- development through testing
- simple architecture
- collaborative code ownership
- continuous integration
- customer in team
- frequent releases
- 40-hour workweek
- coding standards
- system metaphor
And the use of all 12 practices is mandatory. The main thing in extreme programming is not to lose control of what is happening, so that the development does not turn into chaos.
Prototype Methodology is a software development method in which a prototype is built, tested, and reworked until an acceptable result is achieved, after which a complete system or product can be developed. It works well in such scenarios where not all project requirements are known in advance. It’s an iterative process of trial and error between developers and users.
The idea behind the model is that instead of holding the requirement in place until design or coding begins, a one-time prototype is created to understand the requirements. Using prototype methodology, the customer can get an actual feel for the system, because interacting with the prototype will help better understand the requirements of the desired system. The model is well-suited for complex and large systems for which there is no manual process and encourages innovation and agile design.
Development Methodologies Comparison
Which Software Development Methodology Should You Use?
Each of the methodologies has a different purpose and scope, so choosing only one of them does not guarantee the successful project completion. The customer must consider different product aspects when choosing one or another type of development. The right way out is to choose a method for each individual case. And here are the criteria by which this can be done:
- Software Requirements. The requirements you set out have a big impact on the work result. To create high-quality requirements, you need to spend a lot of time. Including studying the subject, interviewing users, prioritizing, fixing the agreement, etc. Processes, markets, subject matter, and conditions of use are constantly changing, so requirements change.
- Timeline & Costs. These factors are primarily of interest to the customer themselves. The accuracy of the estimate depends on the methodology used and the planning stages. You should also take into account that it costs much more to make changes in an already working product than to modify it at the design or analysis stage.
- The speed of release also determines how long users will wait for fixing bugs or implementing requirements. In product development, frequent releases are essential. This allows to validate hypotheses about product features much earlier and on a periodic basis.
- Organization & Team. A factor that drives communication, project management, and collaboration. The effectiveness of teamwork increases with a better organizational structure. Work and reporting depend on the existing management model. Teams that use effective software creation practices can show good results. In an environment where constant change and adoption of new practices is required, previous successful experience or an experienced mentor brings success.
When choosing a development methodology, think about combining elements of each method that work best for your team and your current project. That way you can create a hybrid development methodology that brings you reliably and efficiently to production.
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We talked about the main software development methodologies. It is impossible to say which one will be more suitable for your project, because not always the model you like will be the best option for its implementation. Even Agile, so beloved by most, cannot be applied everywhere. The methodologies overlap in means and are partly similar to each other. Opinion about the effectiveness of this or that methodology is often based on personal experience.
So the more methodologies and approaches you know, the greater your ability to manage projects by combining best practices.
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