Understanding Software Development Methodologies: Which One You Should Choose?
To build high-quality software faster, you must understand that there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to software development. Depending on the project requirements, team size, and vision, you may need to follow specific software development approaches called software development methodologies.
Various software development methodologies exist, such as Waterfall, Agile, Lean, Rapid Application Development (RAD), and feature-driven development. Each methodology has its pros and cons. In this blog, we’ll discuss all the methodologies in detail so that you can choose the one that best suits your project requirements. Let’s begin:
5 Software Development Methodologies (Pros & Cons)
1. Waterfall development approach
The waterfall approach is a traditional software development methodology that follows a linear model consisting of the following sequential phases:
Each phase focuses on specific goals, and you must complete one phase before starting on the next.
Pros of the waterfall methodology
- The linear nature of the waterfall approach makes it easy to understand and manage.
- Since the waterfall approach promotes documentation and clearly defining objectives, there’s no scope for miscommunication.
Cons of the waterfall methodology
- The waterfall methodology requires a lot of planning and documentation. Hence, it can be time-consuming.
- Since the waterfall methodology follows a rigid approach to software development, you can’t address changes until the end of the project.
- The waterfall approach doesn’t include customer feedback in the early stages, which risks the project going off track.
When to use the waterfall approach?
You must use the waterfall software development approach only when your project’s scope is clearly defined. It’s also ideal for projects with predictable outcomes and if you have an inexperienced team.
2. Agile software development
Agile software methodology takes the opposite approach to traditional waterfall software development. Instead of following the linear approach to software development, we break a project into small, manageable development lifecycles called sprints. Each sprint takes about 1-4 weeks to complete and follows a retrospective in which we reflect on the sprint and discuss the scope for improvement.
Upsides of Agile Software Development
- Since testing and feedback are involved in the development process from the beginning, the software is of premium quality and has minimal defects.
- Due to frequent meetings, there’s clarity and collaboration between team members.
- You can easily address changes that emerge during development without impacting your budget and timeline.
Downsides of Agile Software Development
- Since Agile doesn’t emphasize documentation, it can be difficult for teams to understand what’s expected from them.
- Too many change requests can be overwhelming, leading to the team losing focus.
- Agile focuses on feedback and discussions, which may slow the development process.
- Since agile is non-structured, it requires an experienced team. Otherwise, the approach can backfire.
When to Use Agile Software Development?
The agile software development approach is ideal for projects where requirements frequently change. Also, the process is suitable for projects with new niches as it would help you learn more about the market requirements.
However, you must ensure your team is highly independent and comfortable working in a fast-paced environment.
3. Learn software development
Born out of Toyota’s lean manufacturing principles, the lean software development approach focuses on minimizing waste and increasing productivity. The idea is to eliminate all mundane and non-productive tasks so that you can deliver high-quality software on time.
Lean software development also emphasizes continuous learning, collaboration, and an open mindset during software development.
Pros of Lean Software Development
- Since lean software development emphasizes reducing waste, you can eliminate unnecessary documentation, redundant code, and repetitive tasks and build high-quality software.
- Lean software development also reduces costs, reduces time-to-market, and increases motivation among team members.
Cons of Lean Software Development
- Lean software development requires a team of highly skilled developers, which is challenging to assemble.
- An unskilled team may feel overwhelmed by the responsibilities and lose focus on the project.
- Lean software development focuses on detailed documentation, which is time-consuming and burdens your team significantly.
When to Use Lean Software Development?
The lean software development approach works best for small projects with a tight budget. The lean principles help you reduce costs and help you deliver the project in less time. However, using the lean software development approach for large projects is not feasible as you need a large team to manage them.
4. Rapid Application Development (RAD)
Unlike linear software development methodologies, RAD promotes building prototypes and testing them with customers through multiple iterations. We try the prototype until the customer is happy with the results and implement it before working on the next prototype.
The result is high-quality software released into the market within the specified timeline.
Pros of Rapid Application Development
- Since rapid application development involves regular customer feedback, there’s little risk and more chances of building software that meets expectations.
- Rapid application development also increases customer satisfaction and reduces time-to-market.
Cons of Rapid Application Development
- The involvement of customers plays a crucial role in lean software development. If the customer is responsive, the quality of your project may improve.
- Rapid application development requires a team of skilled developers. Otherwise, it may not do justice to your project.
- Lack of documentation may hamper the project’s progress and make it difficult for new developers to get on the project.
When Should I Use Rapid Application Development?
The rapid application development (RAD) approach is ideal for experienced software development teams and high-responsive customers as it involves a lot of communication.
5. Feature Driven Development (FDD)
Feature-driven development is an agile-based software development approach that breaks development activities into a feature list. In each feature, developers undergo an iteration of planning, designing, and development approaches. A feature typically takes two weeks to complete.
The idea behind feature-driven development is to prevent confusion that may lead to costly rework, reducing unnecessary costs and the time-to-market.
Pros of Feature-Driven Development
- Since the feature-driven development approach involves breaking down complex tasks into small, manageable features – it can significantly boost productivity.
- With feature-driven development, your team can work on multiple projects simultaneously, thus reducing time-to-market.
- The chances of success in the FDD approach are much higher as it is based on predefined standards and best practices.
Cons of Feature-Driven Development
- The feature-driven development approach focuses less on direct customer involvement than agile approaches like Scrum. Hence, there are greater chances of misunderstandings and misalignments between the customer and the development team.
- The FDD approach doesn’t provide robust mechanisms to manage and control complexity. Hence maintaining large and complex projects can be challenging.
- FDD is not adaptable to rapidly changing requirements as other agile methodologies like Scrum. Therefore, accommodating changes can be challenging in FDD.
When Should I Use Feature-Driven Development?
Feature-driven development works best for large teams and complex projects. The blend of a structured approach with an iterative framework provides the best results.
Software development methodologies are critical for building high-quality software in less time. They’re pivotal if you want to make your software stand out while ensuring it doesn’t run out of budget. However, you must choose the correct software methodology if you want your project to be successful.
But how to choose the software methodology that does justice to your project? You need to consider many factors, such as team structure, experience, project requirements, goals, and budget.
Hopefully, the software methodologies gave you a fair idea of which software methodologies you must use for your project. If you still have doubts, please let us know in the comments.
Tricia Pearson is an experienced writer at Net Solutions with five years of domain experience across marketing, Tech, and B2B solutions. She works to inspire creativity and encourages team members to bring their best to each project. Tricia thrives in competitive teams and gets satisfaction from late-night writing sprints. She prefers reading by the beach, hiking, and discovering new local cafes during her downtime.