A comprehensive guide on software development methodology

So what is software development methodology? 

Software development methodology refers to structured processes involved when working on a project. This provides a systematic approach to software development, allowing developers to work together more efficiently as a team. A software development methodology will provide a more accurate delivery timeline and directs the team to be more organized and structured when dealing with unplanned changes. 

There are various software development methodologies being introduced through the decades. Choosing a suitable methodology for your project depends on the team structure, requirements, and goals as each one has its own pros and cons. Adopting the right methodologies will benefit both the development team and customers as the discussion and decisions are ensured to be made in the proper ways. Let’s learn more about the most popular software development methodologies and find out which ones work best for you. 

Waterfall development methodology

The waterfall methodology follows a fixed sequence in implementation. Stages of development are arranged into rigid, sequential processes. Each stage of the project must be completed before moving onto the next. Similar to how a waterfall flows in one direction, there’s no going back in this approach. 


  • The sequence approach to implementation of the waterfall model makes it easy to understand, especially for new developers.

  • All specifications and deliverables are defined before the development begins. 


  • The waterfall model does not involve customer feedback in the early stage, which can increase the risk of going in the wrong direction. 

  • The testing process is only carried out at the end of the development, which means that some issues are harder to fix at the later stage. 

  • The rigidity of its structure makes it unsuitable for projects with many unknowns and rapidly-changing requirements.                        

When is it best to use this methodology?

The waterfall methodology is a good choice for a project with well-defined requirements and predictable outcomes. 

Agile methodology

The agile methodology is an approach to managing a project that involves constant collaboration and continuous improvement at every stage. Once the work begins, teams cycle through a process of planning, executing, and evaluating. Continuous collaboration is vital, both with team members and project stakeholders. The methodology focuses on how to satisfy the users instead of emphasizing documentation and rigid procedures.

In projects using agile methodology, tasks are broken into short sprints that take about 1 to 4 weeks to complete. It’s an iterative model that involves multiple tests as the development progresses. The development team continuously seeks feedback from customers and makes changes to the software. 

Agile is now one of the most popular approaches to project management due to its flexibility, adaptability to change, and high level of customer input. Businesses nowadays leverage the methodology to work faster and create a product by parts rather than an entire software. 


  • The software has minimal defects due to the iterative effort in testing and fine-tuning. 

  • Clarity between team members during development, thanks to frequent and transparent communication. 

  • Changes in project requirements are easily addressed with little impact on the timeline.

  • An overall improvement in the deliverable’s quality.


  • Overwhelming change requests can lead to losing focus during the development process. 

  • It can be time-consuming when the team focuses a lot on discussions and feedback. 

  • The agile methodology requires the developers to be experienced to work independently on the non-structured approach. 

When is it best to choose agile methodology? 

The agile methodology is ideal for projects with rapid-changing requirements. If your software project is in a new niche or still needs to discover the market needs. 

Rapid application development

The rapid application development (RAD) methodology is an approach of getting products built in a much shorter time frame without compromising the quality. RAD emphasizes building prototypes with given requirements and testing them out with the customers. This process is repeated until the customers are happy with the outcomes. 

The product can reduce a lot of risks as the prototype needs to undergo rigorous testing and receive valuable feedback from customers. Using RAD increases the chances of successful product release within the stipulated timeline. 


  • Risks mitigation through regular feedback and refinement

  • Increased-satisfaction for clients

  • Works well for small and medium applications

  • Reduces time-to-market.


  • Highly dependent on a responsive customer

  • Requires a team of highly-skilled and experienced developers

  • Not suitable for projects with budget constraints

  • Lack of documentation for progress tracking

When is it best to choose RAD? 

Rapid application development is a good choice when your project has a team of experienced developers and customers who are actively involved in the project. 

Scrum development

Scrum is an agile development methodology used in software development based on iterative and incremental processes. Scrum is an adaptive, fast, flexible and effective agile framework that is designed to deliver value to the customer throughout the development of the project. 

The approach of scrum is to fulfill customers’ requirements through transparent communication, collective responsibility and continuous progress. What makes scrum an ideal methodology in a fast-paced environment is how tasks are executed in sprints. The rapid execution allows the team to identify issues, find solutions, conduct testing and gather feedback in a short period of time, which makes tackling fast-paced projects much easier. 


  • Short iterations allow quick resolutions to problems.

  • Scrum is very responsive to changes as the process includes regular feedback.

  • Scrum is economical and effective.

  • Regular communication ensures that team members are on the same page at all times.

  • Contributions of individual members are noticed and appreciated through the scrum meetings.


  • All team members must be equally skilled and committed for a scrum to work.

  • The daily scrum meetings can be draining for team members.

  • The delivery time can be extended if there is no strict control of the deadline. 

  • Not suitable for large projects 

When is it best to use scrum? 

Scrum is a good choice when your project has vague requirements but needs to adapt to frequent changes. However, to ensure effectiveness, make sure you have a fully-committed and experienced team. 

To sum up, software development methodology provides a structured approach to developing software projects. Choosing the right software development methodology depends on your team structure, experience, project requirements, goals, budget, and other underlying factors.

About the author
Loan Nguyen
I'm dedicated to reading and writing: read to enrich knowledge and write to help readers understand knowledge in my own words.


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