Software is a set of instructions, programs, or data used to operate computers and accomplish tasks. It has penetrated all regions of digital platforms for any individual or any organization, all are dependent on software(s) for their functioning. Software Development Process involves various stages and it requires effective software development methodologies to simplify the development process and achieve desired results.

Software development is the core IT activity requiring intense research, development, prototyping, modifying, maintaining, and various application activities. It is vital for business development as it gives an edge to the competition and helps clients launch innovative, productive and efficient products. 

Global spending on enterprise software development

Software development began in the early 1940s when the software crisis led to a systematic engineering approach. There have been numerous methodologies in the market that help in managing projects successfully. According to a report, Global spending on enterprise software development is expected to touch 755BN USD by 2023.

What are software development methodologies?

Software Development Methodologies are a series of steps or processes that an organization follows to streamline its software development process. These methodologies involve planning, structuring, tracking, gathering feedback, and internal operations to improve the overall quality of the workflow. These software engineering methodologies use pre-defined structured workflow to ease development processes. 

Software development companies employ different Software Development Methodologies and frameworks for different projects depending on their requirements. As these methodologies provide a transparent workflow, clients occasionally engage (as per the software development methodologies used) to contribute their insights.

Companies that develop software help clients build their products by streamlining the project development phases, removing the non-productive tasks, aligning according to the client’s preference, helping in reducing the time-to-market, analyzing the market trends, releasing working software in small bits or releasing an MVP (minimum viable product) according to the methodology followed. 

All software design methodologies have their own set of principles and values, basic workflow processes, and predefined timelines. streamlined process is vital even for the smallest IT project in order to be competent enough to survive in the market. 

Phases in Software Development

These software engineering methodologies work by splitting the whole project into smaller parts and working on them, this saves the team from exhaustion and helps them remain focused throughout. Maintaining a healthy work environment is also one of the key values of these methods. Everyone needs a conceptual framework that includes all activities from the beginning to the release and then maintenance.

The phases of software development are universal in the field, however, the product development methodology employed will determine how important each step is and in what sequence.

Software Development Life Cycle

The following are the fundamental steps in the product development lifecycle:

Research

A business develops a unique product concept and gathers the necessary information for development. In addition to goals, budget, dates, and the teams engaged, the team will also specify the Scope of Work, which will contain the software and security technologies that will be useful throughout the project.

Design

 The team prepares the project’s layout in accordance with the specifications of the specified system. A set of requirements for the product’s low-level design and high-level design.

Coding

During the coding phase, developers put the system modules together in accordance with the accepted specifications and design specifications. The software development process’s longest phase is by far this one. Developers usually code and test simultaneously.

Testing

In the testing phase, both front-end and back-end systems are examined for flaws and mistakes. Most software product development firms use both unit testing and integration testing to guarantee that the final product is stable.

Deployment

The group either makes the finished product available for customer evaluation or sends it to them for release. Additionally, after a product is available for the users, it needs maintenance, which includes regular software updates and problem repairs.

Why Adhere To Software Development Methodology?

Selecting a software development approach and adhering to it strictly throughout the project is very important. When you take the software development technique for granted, there are many hazards.

In case of communication breakdowns and unorganized direction of work, developers may struggle to keep up with client’s shifting demands. Without taking the project’s overall implications into account, this usually causes software revisions.

However, adhering to software development methodologies is beneficial since each product development plan has a specific objective: to assist you in making the most of your resources in order to provide a high-quality result as soon as feasible.

Organizations shouldn’t rely only on a team’s expertise and software technologies. To make the most of these resources, effective project management is essential. According to PMI’s 2019 The Future of Work report, around 12% of lost investments are attributable to poor performance brought on by poor management. According to a different PMI study, a company that develops software products employs a more sophisticated project management process and requires 28% fewer resources overall.

Advantages of Software Development Methodologies

On-Schedule Delivery

Since collection, analyze, and documenting client requirements need a lot of time and attention, it should be unlikely that major requirements will change throughout a phased delivery, increasing the probability that each delivery will be available on schedule.

Flexible

Compared to most agile techniques, the time between deliveries is longer, which lowers costs because deploying software includes less cost. When it is determined that adding new criteria will jeopardize delivery, some requirement changes are permitted up until a particular point in a phase and are then moved into the following phase. Longer delivery times provide the added advantage of enabling the customer to receive considerably more functionally rich and helpful services.

Simple Coding

Developers are always aware of their destination. On the basis of a feature request card, developers cannot start coding right away. The software design process results in a functional specification paper and pseudocode. First, there is a need to overcome the difficult and challenging elements. After that, coding is comparatively simple and easy. The developer has plenty of time to consider the code and design the code correctly from the beginning when they produce requirements documents, specification documents, and design documents (pseudocode) or diagrams.

Easy to make changes

Coding belongs to the developers. They are the ones to contact when there are bugs or new features. When a developer “owns” the code, it frees him from having to spend time examining and evaluating the changes made to the code by other developers. Since there is only one developer, the code will also be more consistent. As a result, it will be easier and quicker to fix bugs and update code, saving both time and money.

Project Continuation

There is a backup developer for each developer. If a developer leaves the project, gets sick, goes on vacation, etc., the backup developer is ready to take over that code. If the primary developer leaves the project, the backup developer can coach a replacement developer to take over that element and can help with requirements analysis, reviews, code reviews, and mentoring.

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Top 5 Software Development Methodologies

There are a number of example of software development methodology one can apply for an organization, even one can create a new methodology that suits their requirement. Here are a few software development methodologies which are as follows.

1. Waterfall Methodology

This is the most traditional model of software development dating back to the 1970s. The waterfall model has been in use for decades because it is based on a strict plan-driven approach. 

Waterfall Methodology

The methodology follows a rigid linear workflow of sequential phases like the flow of water. Each stage acts as an input to the next stage so completion of each stage with precision is essential before moving to the next one because each step is irreversible and there is no possibility of alteration with changing requirements.

Each stage acts as an input to the next stage so completion of each stage with precision is essential before moving to the next one because each step is irreversible and there is no possibility of alteration with changing requirements. The process goes only in the forward direction, simply put whatever is decided at the beginning of the project is conducted without any change.

Waterfall based model goes through six stages:

  • Analysis: The development team discovers all the requirements of the project in full detail. The gathered information is well captured and documented in this phase in order to accurately identify all customer demands from the beginning.
  • Design: The information collected from the first stage acts as input here. The system design is prepared in this stage by studying all the stated requirements and analyzing all the hardware and software requirements to build the software and define the architecture of the system.
  • Implementation: Receiving the input from the design stage, the developer(s) implements the user interface design. The system is developed initially in small programs called units. All these units once developed are tested for their proper functionality.
  • Integration and Testing: After receiving all the units from the implementation stage they get integrated into a system. The quality analysis engineer then tests the whole system for bugs and faults. 
  • Deployment: After completion of the testing processes, you deploy the system in the customer’s environment i.e. you share its prototype with the client.
  • Maintenance: With the release of the system project if there is any error or issue in the client’s environment then patches come into existence as the team releases them to provide full support and resolve issues

There are a number of benefits of the Waterfall Model as stated:

  • The model is easy to understand and implement
  • Best suited for fixed-price projects with one-time stable requirement(s)
  • Specification document includes pre-defined test-cases which makes the testing simpler
  • The management of smaller projects is easy because of their needs are clear and less prone to variations
  • Easily managed due to rigid phases with the review process for each phase is separate
  • Less experienced team(s) can easily benefit
  • Time savings due to the sequential completion of phases

Few shortcomings of the Waterfall Model are as stated:

  • The model has no room for adjustment or any requirement, the process is irreversible and not flexible
  • The analysis phase becomes lengthy due to the detailed documentation of requirements
  • Only the final stage of development can involve testing the software
  • It is often slow and costlier due to rigid control phases
  • Not suitable for long-term development/maintenance/complex projects
  • Higher uncertainty as outcomes may not comply with the client’s requirements

The waterfall model offers predictability, scheduling, and budgeting solutions. The model is best suited where:

  •  Project details are very clear
  •  Project is small
  •  Requirements are stable
  • Technology is clearly understood

2. Agile Software Development Methodology

Agile is one of the best software development methodologies deployed by around 61.5% of developers as revealed by a statistics report. Iterations or sprints, which are basically just short blocks of a larger project, are how the Agile software development technique divides up the work into smaller parts. Software development, testing, and customer feedback prioritization occur over the course of each sprint, or iteration, which lasts between 1-4 weeks.

Agile Methodology

Agile methodology is an example of software development methodology which focuses on delivering working products after every sprint and working on the feedback received, Every size organization prefers this approach since it is flexible.

For the development of complex and lengthy projects which require more development time, this model is suitable. The process of splitting helps the developing team to release products thereby gathering responses that help them in final development and reduce the risk to match the client’s expectations.

Agile development model goes through six stages:

Plan: The process begins by discussing the client’s idea about the project. Usually, the client has a rough vision of the project and the team helps to discover a plan and discuss problems to reach a best-case working scenario that fits their vision

Design: Using the documentation received after planning, the experts create a functional design so that a client can get a view of the end product. This step is crucial as it acts as a blueprint in the development process.

Develop: Once the design is complete the developer adds code to the design.

Testing: To ensure the quality of the product, the custom software is put through rigorous testing. It removes the bug(s) or issues or resolves the detected issues.

Launch/Deploy: This step involves launching the product or software to the client.

Review: Feedback from the customer is collected and analyzed. Agile is dedicated to receiving responses to change and development continuously. This helps to develop a better version at the end of every iteration.

There are a number of benefits of using the Agile Development Methodology as stated:

  • The model is flexible in approach and changes are easy to implement
  • Requirement of resources is minimal
  • Each iteration results in a working product
  •  Small iterations make analysis easy, which leads to the development of high-quality software.
  • Lower risk involved as client’s feedback is taken into consideration
  • Project budget is well defined as costing is decided before each iteration
  • Clarity between team members due to transparent development
  • No room for guesswork in the development process as there is a flow of communication between team and client

Few shortcomings of the Agile Model are as stated:

  • Higher risk of sustainability, maintenance, and extensibility
  • Requires experts to drive project
  • Dependency on client’s feedback is more which can lead to confusion
  • Improper documentation makes it hard for new team members to cope up
  • No strict deadlines due to changing project requirements

Agile is one of the software design methodologies that offers flexibility to projects by including clients’ feedback and changing requirements. The model is suitable where experts can handle changing market trends. This works best for urgent projects that are complex or unstructured in nature

3. Scrum Methodology

Scrum methodology is the most famous evolution of Agile management. The scrum model is based on splitting a project into iterations/sprints and delivering a working project at the end of every sprint. Usually, each sprint ranges between 2 to 4 weeks. This approach is a bit more formed approach with strict rules.

Scrum Methodology

The Scrum team comprises: 

  • A product owner (either representing a client or a direct client) who communicates the project and its aim to the team.
  • A scrum master who is responsible for working with the product owner and guiding the team to deliver the project efficiently, and
  • A scrum development team delivers working results at the end of every sprint.

Scrum methodology allows for the speedy execution of projects, detects issues, forms a model, and gathers user feedback. Daily scrum meetings help to evaluate the progress of the project and remain focused.

Scrum-based model goes through four stages:

  • Sprint Planning: Before starting a sprint, the client and the project manager have a preliminary meeting to go over the objectives and approach(es) of the task. Each sprint has different aims.
  • Daily Scrum: A brief meeting in which the scrum master and the team discuss the project’s progress, and plans for the day and resolve issues on a daily basis till the end of the sprint. 
  • Sprint Review: The team presents the work done at the end of the sprint. The client reviews the results and provides his feedback
  • Sprint Retrospective: The aim of sprint retrospection is to figure out improvements and improve in the next sprint. This stage serves to discuss mistakes and improve overall performance in future tasks.

There are a number of benefits of using Scrum Methodology as discussed:

  • A very flexible model that makes changes easily
  • Frequent meetings help the team to stay on track
  • Any sized organization can apply the scrum model
  • Speedy project execution and fast-paced results
  • Not well-defined requirement is no hindrance
  • Release working products every 2-4 weeks
  • It takes little time to identify and fix issues
  • Priority to client’s feedback
  • Appreciating contribution of each team member
  • Easy to deliver a quality project within a decided deadline

Few shortcomings of the Scrum Model are as stated:

  • Not suitable for new or lesser-skilled developers
  • Not suitable for large complex projects
  • Not following strict deadlines could lead to delayed product release
  • Constant updates on projects sometimes can be tedious
  • Slow moving project due to a number of iterations
  • Estimation of project cost and time of delivery is difficult to decide because projects do not have an end date.

Scrum Methodology is best suited for projects where the client does not have clarity at the beginning and develops an insight as the project advances. Projects that are small and fast-moving gain benefits with this model. This method is effective for a team of skilled and experienced experts as novices cannot cope with tight timelines.

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4. Lean Software Development Methodology

Lean software design methodologies are one of the methodologies that are flexible in their working at a low budget. It mainly focuses on minimizing workflow activities and increasing efficiency. This approach believes in cutting down excessive meetings, documentation, and other non-productive tasks.

The principal element of the Lean model is to build software in less time with a smaller budget. The team develops an MVP (minimum viable product) and releases it to gather feedback from the client and consider suggestions for improvement. This allows the team to develop projects at a faster pace and deliver them on time.

There is no wastage of time on non-productive activities and resources as the lean development methodology focuses on providing quality product delivery and at the same time encouraging a healthy work environment respecting the human resources.

Stages of lean development methodology are as follows:

  • Define Value: Determining what a client requires in terms of product, delivery, and budget. Discovering these needs is sometimes difficult as the client may just have an ambiguous idea of a project due to the project’s novelty, using qualitative and quantitative approaches the team can understand what a client wants.
  • Map the value stream: This stage involves identifying and mapping the value stream. Using customer’s value as reference sifting activities that are useful and useless for the project. By rejecting unwanted activities, the team can ensure that they deliver what the client demands. 
  • Create Flow: This stage ensures proper flow of the proceeding stages. Avoiding any barriers and delivering the project(s) successfully.
  • Establish Pull: Adopting a pull-based system that ensures the production of products at the required time and in the required quantity. This takes place to reduce waste in the production process
  • Continuous Improvement: It is a part of every organization to continuously learn and reduce the wastage of resources, effort, cost, and mistakes.

Benefits of using Lean methodology are as stated:

  • Very budget friendly as it cuts down unwanted tasks
  • The fast speed of development aids in delivering projects well in time
  • The software has a short time-to-market with the development of MVP 
  • Best for new start-ups
  • The understanding of clear client’s vision
  • The development team gets empowered during the project and is able to make acute decisions

Few shortcomings of the model are:

  • This methodology requires an adequate skill set of the developer
  • The model’s approach lacks in detailed documentation for some projects
  • High precision is required to keep track of the project

The lean development methodology is best suited for small projects with a lower budget. As the lean model focuses on the no-wastage principle of resources and tasks and increased efficiency, this makes the team size compact. The management of small tasks is therefore quite effective. This model best suits start-ups that have a low budget and can easily develop an MVP.  

5. Extreme Programming Methodology (XP)

Extreme programming (XP) is one of Agile’s Software Development Methodologies built upon values and principles allowing mid-sized teams to produce high-quality projects. With continuous planning and testing, the model is able to provide a fully functional product while reducing the cost of unnecessary processes. When you consider the client’s feedback, the methodology works well in an unstable environment.

Extreme Programming

Unlike other Software Development Methodologies, XP is opinionated in terms of engineering practices. The decision-making is based on five values: simplicity, communication, feedback, respect, and courage. 

The developer split the project into small iterations with frequent meetings to check the overall progress. It is a set of development practices like:

  • Writing acceptance tests
  • Programmers check each other’s codes for errors
  • Reconstruct existing code
  • Developers work on the same code functionality in turns
  • Continuously integrating new codes in existing codes
  • Testing the product for proper functioning

Stages of Extreme programming methodology are as described:

  • Planning: The process starts when the client mentions the requirements and functionalities required. This provides an idea to the team about the client’s idea about the project, this document may not be very well technical or defined in itself. The team then divides the project into a number of iterations and defined timelines.
  • Managing: Effective management is the key to the XP model’s functionality. The team works in collaboration to avoid errors in developing the software. Management involves initiating iterations, having regular sync-up meetings, tracking progress, reassigning tasks when required, and changing rules if XP isn’t working well for the team.
  • Designing: This stage follows the simplicity value where the team develops the requested tasks by breaking the whole task into smaller processes. The team starts with the simplest design thus creating spike solutions for potential problems. 
  • Coding: Extreme model practice collective code ownership where the team as a whole can review the code to add any code or fix any bug. XP practice pair programming where developers work in pairs to develop a code. 
  • Testing:  Before being made public, codes must pass rigorous testing to remove errors and bugs.  Acceptance tests are also run frequently.

Benefits of using XP methodology are as stated:

  • Easy to work in unstable environments
  • Consideration of client’s feedback
  • Works well for small and large teams
  • Continual client interaction helps to effectively control risk
  • Highly focused on project planning and team management
  • Very cost-effective

Few shortcomings of the model are:

  • Higher client involvement
  • Pair programming of developers is time-consuming
  • Documentation is less
  • Budget planning is difficult due to varying project requirements
  • Changing initially discussed requirements at a later stage of development leads to higher project costs

Extreme Methodology is best suited when a client does not have a very clear vision of a project and develops with ongoing processes. Prioritizing client input and amendments when the situation is unstable and calls for them.

Software Development Methodologies Comparison

Opt for the methodologies to provide high-quality software that fit the market requirements and provide client satisfaction. With changing, market trends methodologies have also evolved in their values and functionalities. Software development methodologies comparison between different methodologies is as listed:

Basic Philosophy

Waterfall: It is the traditional software design methodologies of the IT industry. It is based on a linear and sequential approach to developing projects systematically from one stage to the next stage.

Agile: It is one of the famous software development methodologies based on values and principles that promote the collaboration of teams and clients to deliver high-quality products at a fast pace and continuously focus on improvement with client satisfaction.

Scrum: It is one of the most practical software development processes and methodologies based on the division of projects and time to enhance productivity. The aim of the Scrum model is to make the development process less complex and make information transparent.

Lean: One of the software development methodologies that highly focuses on reducing the wastage of resources and time. It is based on rejecting non-productive tasks during the development phase that do not add any value to the client or business.  

Extreme (XP): It is one of the most specific software development methodologies aiming to produce high-quality products from small or mid-sized teams. Core principles include simplicity, communication, feedback, courage, and respect.

Development speed

WaterfallDepends On Project

Development speed Weeks
Agile 1-4 weeks
Scrum 2-4 weeks
Lean 1-2 weeks
Extreme 1-6 weeks

Waterfall: Development time depends on project size. 

Agile: The iteration duration is between 1-4 weeks.

Scrum: The iteration period is usually 2-4 weeks.

Lean: Iteration is very short for 1-2 weeks.

Extreme: Iteration usually lasts for 1-6 weeks.

When to Apply

Waterfall: It is applied where software development has a clear set of requirements. Best suited for fix-sized projects.

Agile: It can be applied to any sized project.

Scrum: It is best suited for long-term projects and complex projects are handled efficiently.

Lean: Applied where teams are new or by startups that produce MVP (minimum viable product)

Extreme: Best suited where the team is efficient enough to write codes within strict timelines. Small and less complex projects. 

Client involvement

Waterfall:  It is applicable where software development has a clear set of requirements

Agile:  Any project of any size can use it.

Scrum:  Suitable for long-term projects and can handle complex projects efficiently.

Lean: The client provides feedback on sample screens.

Extreme: The client defines the requirements, estimation, and prioritization. 

Focus

Waterfall: To stay within the prescribed budget and decided deadlines.

Agile: To deliver the project at the fastest pace.

Scrum: To satisfy client’s requirements by having effective communication and continuously delivering according to the feedback.

Lean: To deliver the product according to market trends.

Extreme: To produce high-quality products while fulfilling the changing client’s requirements.

Customer Feedback

Waterfall: The involvement of clients is maximum during the discovery phase.

Agile: Receiving feedback from the client at the end of every sprint.

Scrum: The project manager reports to clients about the progress of the project to get their feedback.

Lean: Develop a minimum viable product and gather feedback to improve the product. 

Extreme: Developers release software frequently and get feedback(s).

Team Size

Waterfall: The team is quite large with more than 15 members. 

Agile: The size of the team is about 5-11 members. 

Scrum: Around 3-9 members comprise a scrum team.

Lean: 4-6 people comprise a team for project(s).

Extreme: A team size of 12-16 developers complete the project.

Thinking of the Best Methodology for Your Software Project?

In the previous few decades, the software industry environment has seen significant change. Companies now have to perform data analysis prior to providing the final products. To manage the full project lifecycle, tech giants such as Google and  Microsoft, created new frameworks.

The software development methodologies for your project will determine its success or failure. Considering that using the wrong methodology might result in displeased customers, irate employees, and delayed delivery. As a result, you should carefully select the one for your business.

There is a pool of Software Development Methodologies to choose from when one needs to develop a project. Software development processes and methodologies have immensely evolved providing tailor-fit solutions to your needs. The best development methodology depends on your vision for your product. It is overwhelming to choose the best methodology since one methodology does not fit every requirement. 

Here are some points that can help you choose one of the best Software Development Methodologies for your project :

  • Clear requirements of all the features you want to include in the project.
  • Having a clear picture of the software product that you want to have at the end of the development process.
  • Cost for the project you are willing to pay.
  • Clarity about the deliverables, and the amount of time in development you are willing to invest.
  • Involvement throughout the project in terms of feedback.
  • Have a rough estimation of cost in case of delay in the project.

You can provide your projects with a regular structure so that you can effectively strategize them by integrating a top-notch software product development approach. Software Engineering Methodologies can standardize the process of launching your product. Working smartly and effectively will enable you to outperform your rivals and garner the loyalty of stakeholders.

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Conclusion

Employing Software Development Methodologies is the need of the hour. For successful project delivery, project management is the key. Using the best methodology that best suits the project is the primary and deciding element for any development project. Different development projects adopt different software engineering methodologies discussed so far as they have their own set of strengths and weaknesses. It becomes very crucial to choose the best fit for your software development. All these software design methodologies practically work well based on the nature of the project.

One methodology may work well for one project while being a misfit for another. Also, these software design methodologies have their set of shortcomings, principles, time-frame, and applicabilities which a developer(s)/team(s) should keep in mind before selecting the methodology for their software development project(s).

Contact the organizations now to gain full assistance in your custom software development. The Software Development Methodologies offered by the companies have expert managers, developers, and a team who handle the projects very efficiently. They have market-based skills that will aid in delivering a successful product to you. Choosing the right methodology out of so many software engineering methodologies becomes easier for them and so is product development.