Are you a developer team manager who wants to structure the project’s work? If you want to effectively manage projects, you should use the software development methodology and choose the best one for your project requirements. It will ensure smooth development and define the next steps of the work.

If you are new to software development methodologies, think of them as a cooking recipe that lists the ingredients and their weight or volume. Such a list is an instruction for action, and when such a recipe is written, others may apply it.

A software development methodology is a software development process. Usually, it is not only the process itself, but also the basic ideas and the era from which it evolved. There are many different methodologies, and it is not easy to figure out which one is best for you.

There are many methods to choose from. Explore them all to decide which one is right for your project needs. They determine the size of the team, goals and work preferences.

Take a closer look at them to choose wisely.

We have compiled a list of the most commonly used software engineering methodologies for you.

Phases of the software development process

Phases of the software development process

The software development project life cycle consists of four key phases, which are:

1. Planning

2. Analysis

3. Design

4. Implementation

This should not be confused with the phases of the software lifecycle as they consist of several additional phases: implementation, maintenance and shutdown.


The key phase in the project, because at this stage we have to ask ourselves the question “why do we create” the software and how it will be created. We determine whether we can do it, whether the project itself has business value and what, and whether the software that will be created will be usable.

After preliminary arrangements, we proceed to project initiation. We develop a schedule. We start the project management process.


We determine who will use the system, what the system should do, and where and when it will be used. We perform business analysis and requirements analysis.


This is the first decision on how the system is supposed to do this (user requirements). Create a concept of the system’s internal logic, architecture and interface (including the user interface). Object-oriented methods are used today, so while the design is very thorough, it usually abstracts for future systems. This abstraction has nothing to do with the implementation method but must (should) be an object-oriented project.


This is the last step in the software development process. Within its framework, we create implementation projects and codes, install and test, and plan other elements of the system life cycle, i.e. support, management and development plans.

Software development methodologies

The briefly described steps in the creation process can be arranged in several ways. Common methods can be divided into three categories:

• structural (waterfall, parallel, staged methods)

• quick methods (rapid, staged method, prototyping, rejected prototypes)

• agile (agile, extreme programming)

Within each group, one or more application methods can be distinguished (as described above).

Waterfall Software Development

Waterfall Software Development

The oldest software development methodology. The four stages of creation are performed sequentially.

Waterfall is a linear approach to software development and requires a lot of effort to define the scope of the project. It is a simple attempt to introduce activities into a project where the two most important phases (creation and verification) follow one after another. Simply put, a system or software is created first and then tests are run. However, there are many opponents of this model, mainly criticizing the long time from definition of requirements to delivery.

Choosing a “cascade” approach will mean setting up separate focus groups. These teams will work at various successive stages (requirements, design, implementation, verification, maintenance).

You will follow traditional development methods based on rigid linear models. Each stage must be completed in 100% before starting the next stage. This means that the method does not allow you to go back and change your design or direction.


1. Easy to understand and manage,

2.This method is suitable for smaller scale projects and its requirements can be clearly defined in advance,

3. Less experienced project managers and project teams whose composition changes frequently are advised to use cascading.


1. The Waterfall method ends in one stage before the next stage begins. Therefore, you cannot go back and edit some content.

2. It is not flexible

3. Cannot cope with project risk.

4. Not a good model for complex and long-term projects.

Agile Software Development

Agile Software Development

If you are looking for a programming method that can help you cope with a turbulent customer-centric market, you should seriously consider using agile development methods. Today we can see agile methods spreading rapidly across different types of organizations. It is a way to develop products faster and more efficiently. Unlike the highly linear cascade approach, agile methods provide flexibility and a team approach.

It breaks down the work into separate phases called sprints. Each sprint lasts for several weeks and team members follow the list of results. After the sprint, the team will review the work with the Scrum supervisor.


1. This method improves performance by finding and fixing bugs. It leads to faster delivery and improvement of the software quality

2. Large teams can collaborate effectively and be transparent.

3. Reduce critical and major defects, reduce overtime and allow on-time deliveries.


1. Not suitable for inexperienced programmers. Your team should consist of skilled senior developers.

2. Team members will have to undergo extensive training to understand the model and ensure the success of the project.

3. There must be continuous interaction between testers, clients and developers. This can be time consuming and overwhelming.

4. Documentation is not very detailed. This means that when new members join the team, they won’t know how to act. This can cause difficulties and misunderstandings.

Rapid Application Development (RAD)

Rapid Application Development (RAD)

If your business goals are well defined and narrow, you can take advantage of the Rapid Application Development (RAD) approach.

The RAD method was born out of the need to deliver applications in a very short time. In short, this is a quick adaptation of the linear sequential model we saw with the Waterfall method. Here, rapid development can be achieved with component-based design.

Many teams will work on different components. They will deal with:

  • requirements planning
  • user design
  • construction
  • cutover

User participation is high. Until the user confirms that all requirements are met, the user design and construction stage can be repeated.


1. The RAD method is especially useful for urgent small and medium sized projects.

2. If you have clear business goals, this is a great approach.

3. The model encourages customers to make improvements.


1. You will need an experienced and stable development team that can handle all the complexity.

2. Not suitable for low budget projects due to high cost of modelling and automatic code generation.

Choose the appropriate method

Each of these methods has advantages and disadvantages and choosing the best method for a given project is not easy. The choice should take into account the known features of the upcoming project.

Transparency required by the user. Initially, the requirements are often unclear or incomprehensible, and sometimes even insufficiently documented. The first step of the project is to discover and understand the purpose of future users. This is a place for a good business analysis and prototyping.

New technology may pose another obstacle. In this case, the previous experience of the team is no longer sufficient. It is best to hire experts familiar with the technology.

Software development methods are an important part of any programming project. We’ve only listed a few of them, but there are other methods to consider such as extreme programming and object-oriented programming (OOD). Choosing the most suitable model for your project can ensure success, on time deliveries and customer satisfaction. Each of them has its own advantages and disadvantages, so the choice should depend on the nature of the project. Take the time to understand the different methods and determine which one is right for your team.


  • Amey Sarode says:

    Clear and Precise. Thanks for the detailed explanation.

  • Stella says:

    Thanks for explaining the software development methodologies in detail. I would love it if you can share your thoughts on the extreme programming model used by some companies. How and when a company should go for that option.

    • Sylwia Swierczek says:

      Thank you for your comment. Its’s very interesting. Regarding proper engineering practices for software development, XP is the most specific agile framework. We will look at this in the next article! Visit us again 🙂

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