Every software development project is unique. The structure, processes and tools vary across projects. Consequently, a software developer needs to choose a suitable methodology that will allow them to execute the processes effectively. With the complexity of the projects, seeking services from an offshore software company may come in handy.
This post will highlight some commonly used methodologies to help you identify the one that fits best for your project type.
The waterfall model is the oldest of the software development methodologies. As the name suggests, it takes on a top-down structure. The rigid linear model consists of a sequence of phases – requirements phase, design phase, implementation phase, verification phase, deployment phase and maintenance phase. Every phase has unique goals allowing separate focus for every phase.
Given the linearity of the methodology, you can only proceed to the next phase after the previous one is fully complete.
- The linear nature of the model makes it easier to manage the different phases of development.
- Easy testing and analysis of software components
- Saves time due to the minimal errors made during development. It is also easy to make adjustments when examining each phase
- The model is not suitable for continuous projects that rely on continuous integration
- Given each phase has to be complete before proceeding to the next stage, it’s impossible to know possible project outcomes
- Limited to projects with specific needs.
An improvement to the waterfall methodology is the Iterative waterfall. Essentially, it has the same structure as the waterfall model. However, several feedback loops have been built within this model, making it more flexible compared to the parent waterfall methodology.
However, the iterative waterfall methodology is always associated with workflow issues, especially given changes in later phases might require adjustments to be made in earlier phases.
Agile Development methodology
Agile methodology has become a top option for software development teams due to minimizing risks associated with the model and the increased flexibility compared to a waterfall methodology. With this model, you split the custom software development into small iterations that last from between a week to a month. The various components are then brought together incrementally.
Perhaps the unique characteristic of agile development process is the flexible and incremental development process.
- The flexibility allows development teams to adjust the objectives to the overall nature of the project to fit new dynamics.
- Efficient for projects that want to keep costs low. The small development phases make it easier to detect errors and adjust accordingly. In turn, development is often completed on time.
- Efficient for large development teams. The model allows for easy cooperation and transparency.
- IInexperienced developers might find it challenging to work with this model due to the openness and lack of documentation associated with the model. Often teams require training for team members to understand how the model works.
- The lack of comprehensive documentation means that once a team commences working on a project, they have to stick together through the end. Adding new members to a team brings difficulties in understanding how the model works and the overall context of the project.
- The Agile model can be quite labor-intensive, especially given the developer has to test and complete iterations for user approval.
Rapid Application Development
As the name suggests, this model is suitable for projects that need to be executed within a short timeframe. If your business has narrow and well-defined objectives, Rapid Application Development is an appropriate methodology to consider. It is based on component-based construction.
Basically, multiple teams will in the project take on different components – planning, user design, construction and cutover. Through the development process, users are actively involved, starting with the requirements phase, where they have first to confirm that all requirements are in place.
- The model is very conducive for small projects. It works best on small and medium-sized enterprises that have short timeframes for implementing development projects.
- Active user engagement through development minimizes the risk of producing a useful software product that requires multiple iterations/improvements.
- Given the different product components are managed by different teams, the model is heavily dependent on team performance.
- The model can be quite complex thus, it requires highly skilled persons to handle the software development.
- The complexity of the model – conduct and requirements – makes development quite costly.
Feature-driven software development is becoming increasingly popular, especially given its incremental and iterative approach to development. The model is derived from the Agile development model and focuses on delivering working software continuously and frequently.
- Essentially, development has five steps. These are:
- Developing an overall model
- Building a feature list and
- Planning around each feature in the list
- Designing by feature
- Building by feature
Most of the work lies in the last two steps. However, proper analysis and reporting are required in each step to track progress and identify possible errors. Another important aspect of this model is, every feature should take at most two weeks to design and develop.
- It allows for more rapid development as a project can be divided into smaller sections and spread across a large team.
- The method follows best practices in the industry through all stages of development.
- The model may not be suitable for inexperienced software developers, especially with the limited documentation.
- It is only best for large projects that can be divided into smaller components
- You will need a lead developer to oversee the entire development process if you are to work with this model.
The methodology to employ depends on various factors such as type and scale of the project, resources required and budget. There are no specific criteria for choosing a methodology. It is up to software development teams to analyze their modalities of the project and advice clients accordingly on the best model to work with.