7 Different Types of Software Development Methodologies
In the simplest of terms, a software development methodology is the basic framework using which software developers can plan, structure and control the overall process of developing a software or information system.
Software project methodologies are especially important, since it helps answer the following important questions -
- Which tools do the developers want or need?
- Which development approach should be taken and why?
- The correct way to implement the development approach
- Refine the requirements in order to streamline the overall process
Project managers and developers more often than not choose the methodology which helps them maximize the ROI of the project, and given the abundance of the same, one needs to take extra caution before deciding on the ideal project development methodology as per their requirement.
7 Most Popular Types of Software Development Methodologies
An evolutionary software development methodology should describe a process from the perspective of a developer working on the project. This includes design, specification, evolution and validation, amongst others.
Some of the more popular project development methodologies include -
Waterfall Software Development Methodology
A traditional approach towards software development, the Waterfall model delineates a rigid and linear approach towards the overall development lifecycle. Each phase of the development has distinct goals, and once a phase is completed, there is no turning back. As a result, although in theory this model encourages managerial control and departmentalization, but in practice its rigid nature does not allow room to accommodate the inevitable changes that crop up in many projects. This is especially harmful when the software is in the testing stage, and major changes are required to be done during the development phase.
The spiral model places more emphasis on risk analysis and early identification of risks. Projects based on the spiral model generally start on a small scale, thereby letting the people involved explore all the risks involved and make a suitable plan based on them. Instead of focusing on project speed, this methodology aims at reducing perceived risks, while at the same time leading to rapid development times because the developers can work freely without worrying about the risks involved.
The spiral model is generally chosen over the waterfall method for large, expensive, and complicated projects. At the same time, since risk analysis requires highly specific expertise, therefore the whole project's success is dependent on the capability of the people performing the risk analysis.
Agile Software Development Methodology
The Agile framework is one of the more popular conceptual methodologies for undertaking software development projects. The main aim of this software project methodology is to reduce risk by developing software in short bursts or iterations, typically lasting between one to four weeks. Agile is an incremental model wherein an iteration is like a miniature project, including everything from planning, requirement analysis, coding, design, documentation, and testing.
At the end of the phase, the team involved can re-evaluate its priorities, and then move on to the next iteration. Agile methods of software development are characterized by enhanced real-time collaboration and communication, and emphasizes on working, error-free software as the primary measurement of progress.
Rapid Application Development (RAD) Methodology
The RAD methodology lays major emphasis on the project speed and faster development times and is extremely well-suited for the development of limited-distribution custom software or in-house business software development. Rapid application development proposes that products can be developed in a faster and more efficient manner by -
- Reusing software components
- Using workshops to gather requirements
- User testing and prototyping of designs
- Keeping reviews and team meetings informal
RAD embraces the object-oriented programming methodology which supports popular object-oriented programming languages such as C++ and Java, etc.
Lean Development Methodology
The Lean development methodology focuses on the creation of software which is inherently change-tolerant. Its originator, Bob Charette, mentioned that the overall goal of Lean development is to build software with one-third the human effort, one-third the development hours, and one-third the investments required when compared to what most CMM Level 3 organizations would achieve.
The main principles of Lean development include -
- Customer satisfaction is always paramount
- Companies should strive to offer the best value for money
- Active customer participation is encouraged
- Every single thing within the project is changeable
- Minimalism is especially important
- Product growth can only be achieved with a growth in features, not size
Rational Unified Process (RUP) Methodology
The Rational Unified Process methodology is aimed at capturing modern software development's best practices in a single unified package. RUP also supports an iterative model approach, whereby project managers can take into account the changing project requirements and suggest modifications as necessitated. All project elements are integrated progressively over time, allowing developers enough time to fine-tune the software, and all risks are addressed during integration can be mitigated early during the development phase.
RUP also encourages software component reuse for faster development times, and since errors are corrected over the duration of several iterations, the end result is robust software without any performance bottlenecks.
Joint Application Development (JAD) Methodology
The JAD methodology lays emphasis on client-developer collaboration for software design and development. This is accomplished with the help of workshops which are known as JAD sessions, wherein the main focus is on business problems instead of on the technical details. JAD is more often than not applicable to the development of business systems rather than software, and aims to reduce costs by reducing the downstream changes.
The JAD methodology leads to greater client satisfaction, as well as shorter development times, but relies heavily on effective leadership during the JAD sessions.
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