The choice of software development methodology is key to your success when trying to add more structure to any workflow. Selecting the best method for your needs will vary depending on your goals, the size of your team, and other considerations. We take a deeper look into the most popular software development methodologies and each option’s benefits and drawbacks. We’ll also suggest what type of project they all work best with to help you find the perfect fit for your company.
Waterfall is the most traditional software development methodology and was created back in 1970. While some individuals may believe this option is past its sell-by date, it’s important to understand how it shapes more modern methodologies. It’s driven by plans and uses documentation and structure from the start of the process.
Waterfall development is divided into stages and they are generally quite inflexible. Begin by determining project requirements. This is key for both the customer and development before anything else progresses further.
Following the first stage, you’ll analyse the requirements before moving into designing, implementing, testing, deploying, and then maintaining the software after its launch. The biggest drawback of this methodology is its lack of flexibility. When a mistake occurs, generally, this method requires returning to the beginning and starting again.
This can be devastating if you’ve completed the majority of the work. The stages are quite rigid in this methodology, but it has the advantage of being able to be passed from team to team during each phase. This option heavily influenced other software development methodologies, as discussed see below.
Agile has become one of the most common methodologies to this day and was designed to reduce some of the frustrations experienced by Waterfall. It was intended to better accommodate change and produce software faster as needed by most companies today. Agile minimises placing importance on tools and instead works to value relationships and individuals.
Customer collaboration is encouraged throughout the process. With Agile, you can react to changes instead of having to restart the process from the beginning. Documentation receives less attention as it’s more important to work on creating a piece of working software.
Agile is ideal for complex and variable projects with teams working in sprints of a specific duration. These sprints will involve a set of deliverables but don’t have a set order of completion. This software development methodology focuses on teams and efficiency. It encourages feedback from your company’s clients and departments with emphasis on client approval. This ensures they are happy with the progress throughout.
Feature-driven development (FDD) offers some similarities to both of the methods listed above but is still viewed as an older and slightly outdated methodology. It focuses on regular deliveries and keeps the client as the top priority throughout the process. FDD is best used with smaller teams, and features are key within FDD.
This methodology states that a feature should be delivered every two weeks to the client. The process follows five steps: planning, building a list of features, and then planning each feature. Finally, designing and building each feature completes these five steps.
It’s advisable to report the status of the project at each step. This will help prevent issues One of the advantages of this method is the response rate it offers for changes and its focus on the client. By taking the time to fully understand your client’s needs at the start, you minimise issues.
The two-week rule is quite strict within FDD with large features being broken down into smaller projects until they are achievable within two weeks. It’s a very inflexible model and can be difficult for teams who enjoy a more balanced development process.
This is a slight variation on the classic Waterfall model with feedback loops added. It’s more flexible than Waterfall as, if an error occurs, one merely returns to a previous stage. However, this may mean multiple teams are involved during different phases and can create a confusing workflow.
It can be difficult for staff, as it’s impossible to know how many team members will be needed further down the line, if issues occur. It’s often avoided as it involves some team members waiting around if there’s a lack of work.
As a branch of Agile, Spotify was created to make Agile more accessible to large business models. When creating a larger piece of software, it’s important to know how separate Agile teams can work together. This works by creating large work blocks and then coordinating testing and design within various teams.
The method for your project
You’ll need to consider many determining factors when selecting which software development model is suitable for your upcoming project. The size of your team and project, the timeframe, and the project’s difficulty are key components that can help you make your decision. While some companies opt to use one methodology for every project, many companies recognise the benefits of switching between Agile, Waterfall, and others.
However, it’s important to understand what methodology your team are familiar with. There’s no point forcing a new idea if they’re only experienced in one process. To do so will make the project completion more challenging in the long run.
By understanding which is the best software development methodology, you can help to make the whole process smoother. There are advantages and disadvantages to any of these processes listed above. By weighing up the pros and cons, you’ll find the option that makes communication and development as smooth as possible.