SDLC (Software Development Life Cycle) methodologies stand for the operational frameworks that are followed in the software development process. Each of them has its unique features and application specifics, and thus, the choice of the right methodology is always driven by the project requirements.
6 Software Development Life Cycle Methodologies – Overview, Pros and Cons
Choosing the right SDLC methodology is one of the first things that a software development company does when getting started with a new project. So, let’s overview the basic approaches to software solutions creation and find out which one is the best fit for your project.
1. Waterfall Methodology
Waterfall methodology is one of the first and perhaps the oldest approaches to software creation. Its essence is clear from its name. Within this framework, each part of the project is developed step by step. This approach is suitable for small to medium projects with very clear requirements and expectations for the final product when there is quite a low probability of sudden changes.
- This approach allows for coming up with very clear requirements, project development stages, as well as time and budget estimates.
- Controlling and managing the project created according to the Waterfall methodology is also quite easy since all the processes are clear and predictable.
This development framework doesn’t allow for testing each part of the software created. Thus, there can be a lot of bugs or errors in the final products, and thus, you need to provide an additional budget for quality assurance.
The Validation and Verification model is quite similar to the Waterfall methodology since in this case, the software is also created step by step according to the clear requirements. However, this model allows for overcoming the main pitfall of the Waterfall since in this case, each part of the software is tested right after its creation. Thus, it allows for moving further while staying assured that there are no mistakes in the previous stages.
- The model is suitable for small to medium projects with clear requirements.
- As well as Waterfall, it allows for making clear estimates and assessing risks at the very beginning of the project development.
When applied right, this model has no pitfalls. However, coming back to each of the previous software development stages and fixing mistakes can be difficult or even impossible so, with this approach, there is a need to be very attentive when it comes to quality assurance.
3. Iterative Model
According to this methodology, the software is created in iterations. This approach is suitable when you don’t know what you are going to create, and thus, you should test the result step by step. In this case, each piece of the software is created according to the requirements you already know you have, then the result is tested and evaluated, and then, you may come up with the further requirements for your project based on what you have learned at the previous stage.
The approach is suitable when there are no clear project requirements, and the only way to come up with them is to create something and then, work on matching the final product with user expectations.
Since some of the iterations may repeat, there is a risk of exhausting all the resources before the full-fledged system will be created.
4. Spiral Model
This model is very similar to the previous one, only in this case the software is developed in a spiral mode. That is, each created part is tested and validated by feedback from real users (the practice borrowed from the LEAN approach) and then, the process goes on taking the insights obtained into account. This model is suitable for small to large projects that strive to perfectly match the user requirements and are still not sure what they want to get in the end.
- This approach is good when it’s impossible to accurately predict the final set of features that will match the market needs.
- Following the spiral model might be good for creating highly-customized and specific products.
Your software development spiral may be never-ending.
This model allows a completely free flight of the development process. In this case, the developers practically do not have a plan, but only have an idea, the outcome of which they want to know. This is an extremely risky model that is suitable for small startups created by one or two developers who are willing to invest their time and effort into an unpredictable result.
The model allows for complete freedom from planning and research, and thus, one may save on this stage.
In most cases, the risks don’t pay off. This is a “let’s try” model that suits startups exclusively.
Surely, you have heard of Agile since this is one of the most popular approaches to software development. Its core principles are fast value delivery, flexibility, and constant learning and improvement. This methodology is also perfectly matching with LEAN management which is sometimes defined as a separate approach to software development. However, in most cases, the developers strive to follow the best principles of both since while Agile promotes flexibility, LEAN allows for making reasonable and validated decisions.
- Agile is perfectly combined with LEAN and this combination allows for delivering the ultimate value.
- This is one of the best approaches to creating long-term projects that are developed in the dynamic market and thus, the project requirements may change anytime.
Following this methodology in your software development is costly since there is a need for a large team and the project development may go on for a long time. However, the final products’ quality and market-match pay off the price invested in the development process according to Agile.
There are six basic methodologies to choose from, and in most cases, the choice is the right one is quite clear as it flows from the project requirements and specifics. However, you may adopt some of the best features from other approaches to software development and find a new way to increase the final value of your product and still save some resources.