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Software development is a complex endeavor, one that has multiple moving parts. Dealing with all the factors that might affect a particular software development project can be tricky, mainly because there are numerous ways in which you can tackle it. Each of these ways constitutes a software development methodology.

Unfortunately, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all methodology that can get to grips with all kinds of projects. Depending on the software you’re working on, you may find that a particular methodology is better than the others. But how can you know for sure? That’s why we made this list of the development methodologies we use at Code Power—to provide you with a glimpse into these methods through the eyes of our expertise

What is a software development methodology?

Software development methodologies aim to provide a clear, optimized, and effective roadmap for building software. Thus, a software development methodology is a process or series of processes that leverages a particular approach and different techniques to help with development.

Each available methodology today does all of the above in different ways. Each of them has its own pros and cons, so picking the right one for a particular project calls for a profound understanding of how they work and what they can provide.

Organize the workflow

Track the development progress

Provide a communication framework

Reduce the time and costs associated with creating the software

Improve the quality of all deliverables

Types of software development methodologies

Choosing the right software development methodology for your project requires you to analyze the project’s characteristics, requirements, objectives, features, scope, available budget, resources, and schedule. Once you have all that information, and knowing what each methodology can provide, you can pick the one that’s best suited to you.

Agile

Agile is the most popular software development methodology today. Breaking away from the linear model that came before it, Agile uses an iterative approach to project management. In other words, it divides all tasks into short sprints that take between one and four weeks to finish. These sprints allow the team to focus on incremental development, which means that the product gets better and more robust with each passing iteration.

Pros

  • Testing is a continuous effort across sprints which elevates the final quality of the product.
  • Agile prioritizes communication between team members, leading to increased clarity.
  • Development plan is flexible, as the tasks in the sprints can change according to emerging requirements that affect the goals or scope of the project.
  • Stakeholders have plenty of opportunities to provide their feedback throughout the development process.

Cons

  • Too many changes throughout the process can derail the development.
  • Agile doesn’t worry too much about documentation, which can become an issue later on.
  • Its lack of structure can make developers feel lost, which is why agile works best in the hands of experienced professionals.

Agile is the best choice for:

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Projects with fast-changing requirements

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Projects with fast-changing requirements

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Projects where stakeholder involvement is essential

Scrum

Scrum is an Agile-inspired methodology that uses an incremental and iterative approach to software development, making it a highly flexible method. There are three key roles in Scrum:

  • Product Owner. Understands the stakeholders’ vision for the product and makes sure that the team is working towards fulfilling it.
  • Scrum Master. Facilitates the Scrum process, making sure that the team knows and leverages the process itself.
  • Development Team. Executes the development process taking the Product Owner’s and the Scrum Master’s feedback into account.

As in Agile, tasks are divided into sprints that allow the development team to quickly work on incremental solutions while testing them and getting feedback at the same time.

Pros

  • Its iterative approach allows for quick issue resolution.
  • It includes regular feedback.
  • It’s a highly flexible methodology that responds well in ever-changing environments.
  • Scrum meetings make sure that everyone is on the same page at all times.

Cons

  • Scrum calls for all team members to be highly involved in the approach.
  • Daily meetings can be stressful.
  • The team might miss deadlines because of changing requirements.

Scrum is the best choice for:

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Projects with unclear requirements

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Experienced teams, highly committed to the end result

Waterfall

Waterfall is a traditional development methodology that’s been around for decades. It uses a linear approach where each stage is part of a sequence. Thus, the process only moves forward with a new stage after the preceding stage is completed. It’s a highly structured methodology in which the steps follow one another in a cascading fashion and always in one direction (meaning that you won’t be able to go back after a specific phase of the development lifecycle is completed).

Pros

  • The sequential nature of the process makes it easy to understand and follow.
  • All project’s specifications are clearly defined right from the start, so the team always knows what they need to do.

Cons

  • Testing is just a stage at the end of the development process, which means that some issues will be harder to fix.
  • Waterfall doesn’t allow for changes in the project’s requirements, so if any change is necessary, the team has to scrap everything and start anew.
  • The stakeholders can’t provide feedback in the early stages, which can lead to costly misalignments.

Waterfall is the best choice for:

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Projects with a highly-detailed scope

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Projects with predictable outcomes

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Teams lacking development experience

Lean

Lean is a methodology that comes straight out of the manufacturing process in the automotive industry, most precisely from Toyota. The company developed the following lean manufacturing principles to improve its processes:

  • Eliminate waste by avoiding tasks that don’t add value to the final product.
  • Focus on quality by preventing issues from snowballing.
  • Learn from past work by analyzing how the tasks and their results turned out.
  • Keep flexibility up by delaying irreversible decisions as much as possible.
  • Deliver quickly by focusing solely on the important features for any given iteration.
  • Trust the team’s expertise by avoiding micromanagement.
  • Think about the quality of the entire product by understanding how each new step contributes to it.

By following these principles, developers can better collaborate with each other, focusing on the task at hand but always safeguarding the quality of the final product.

Pros

  • It reduces the amount of rote tasks, redundant code, and unnecessary documentation.
  • Its focus on efficiency helps in shortening the time to market.
  • Team members have more autonomy, which elevates their confidence and motivates them to do their best work.

Cons

  • Lean puts most of the project’s responsibility on the developers, which can overwhelm them.
  • Increased autonomy can lead to misalignments between team members.
  • It requires precise and extensive documentation to be truly useful.

Lean is the best choice for:

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Small projects

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Projects with tight budgets

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Small development teams

Prototype

As its name indicates, Prototype is a methodology aimed at developing basic versions of a final product. The process in this methodology is fairly straightforward: the team gathers the requirements, makes a design, and builds a basic prototype, which the stakeholders then test and evaluate to provide feedback. The prototype methodology also uses an iterative process to refine the product until it meets the initial requirements.

Pros

  • It’s a great method to identify potential issues with a project’s scope or requirements or even with the product’s idea.
  • It helps in aligning all stakeholders before the actual product development starts.
  • It aids in gathering information about the intended product, which later serves as the foundation for the development of the fully-fledged solution.

Cons

  • Prototype is useless for full product development.
  • Stakeholders’ expectations might not align with the prototype.
  • The development team often bears the cost of the prototype’s development.

Prototype is the best choice for:

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Projects whose planned product has several unknown requirements

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Projects for highly innovative products that haven’t been tried out

Rapid Application Development

Rapid Application Development (RAD) is a methodology that focuses on development speed. Its main goal is to get to the final product as fast as possible but without sacrificing quality along the way. To do so, RAD uses a 4-step process (requirement definition, prototyping, testing, and implementation) that iterates over and over until the product is done. RAD concentrates on creating prototypes which are then intensively tested to get precise and detailed feedback. That feedback is then used to build a superior prototype that goes through the same process until it reaches its final form.

Pros

  • It offers detailed feedback that greatly helps with development.
  • It involves stakeholders at all times, increasing their alignment with what the team is building.
  • It reduces time to market.

Cons

  • It needs full involvement from stakeholders to properly move forward.
  • It can be costly.
  • It works best with highly-experienced teams.

RAD is the best choice for:

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Small and medium projects

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Projects with tight deadlines where budget isn’t a concern

XP – Extreme Programming

Extreme Programming is a development methodology that focuses on building higher quality software while also trying to improve the working environment for developers and the satisfaction of all stakeholders. This methodology empowers developers and provides them with the ability to self-organize around a particular issue to solve it as efficiently as possible. Its approach to development relies on 12 principles which guide the whole process and which can be boiled down to five crucial aspects:

  • Constant communication among developers
  • Simplicity of design
  • Detailed feedback from stakeholders since day one
  • Respect for the work of other team members
  • Courage to respond to changing requirements and technologies

To honor those principles, development teams use a series of practices, such as pair programming, weekly and quarterly cycles, and incremental design.

Pros

  • It encourages close contact with all stakeholders.
  • It uses continuous testing to ensure the quality of the final product.
  • It avoids errors by relying on pair programming.
  • It lets teams work at their own pace.

Cons

  • It requires all stakeholders to participate in the process.
  • It involves high costs and long schedules.
  • It requires a highly disciplined team to truly work.

XP is the best choice for:

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Projects that involve complex or new technologies

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Projects with changing requirements

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Small or co-located teams

We are experts in development methodologies

At Code Power, we have an in-depth understanding of all development methodologies. Thanks to our years of cross-industry experience, we know which methodology is best for each project and we know how to leverage them for success. It doesn’t matter which software project you’re about to embark on: we can help you take it to the next level.