DevOps, agile, waterfall, and other software development methodologies are there to help teams add structure to their software development process. But, the tech industry is always changing, and so is software development. Thus, in order to keep up and get ahead of the competition, it’s vital to know what software development methodologies are trending, define which work best for you, and hop on it.
Software Development: A Deep Dive Into the Basics
Software development is one of those essentials that enable businesses to scale, innovate, and compete. In this article, we are going to define what role is assigned to different development methodologies in this process. But, let’s start with the basics.
Software development is a process or set of activities aimed at conceiving, designing, deploying, and supporting software. Simply put, it is the process of software creation.
Software development methodologies, on the other hand, have not that much to do with the technical side of the project, but rather with its organization. In a nutshell, a methodology is a framework applied to add structure to the development process, plan, and control it throughout its entire lifecycle.
Remember when your new project’s time needed for marketing was way longer than you expected due to the lack of staff’s motivation or poor collaboration? Or when everyone seemed to do just fine on their tasks, but looking at the big picture you noticed that your entire team has been running by leaps and bounds all this time? Both cases are a result of improper organization of the development process and that’s exactly why we need software development methodologies.
To Outsource or Not to Outsource: A Massive Shift Towards Custom Software Development
Before going through the list of the most trending development methodologies, there are a couple more things you need to know in terms of software development in the modern world.
The world of software development is truly vast, if not limitless. This industry is ever-changing and, though different software development methodologies aim to give it some structure, ensuring that your projects run like clockwork isn’t an easy task. And, even a harder task is to maintain that smooth workflow and balance once you find them.
This is one of the reasons that gave rise to one of the most massive trends of the past years – custom software development services.
According to statistics, the overall value of IT tasks companies outsource to external service providers is expected to exceed $413.72 billion by the end of 2021, whereas the value of the IT outsourcing market is predicted to grow by 5% every year throughout 2024.
So what all this buzz around custom software development is about? Providers of custom software development services help companies build their products from scratch and maximize the outcomes. Moreover, such services can have a number of positive effects on a business.
Namely, companies use custom software development services to:
- Access a larger pool of talents – whereas 87% of companies reported experiencing a talent shortage, outsourcing provides access to a huge pool of world-class talents.
- Cut down business expenses – though it might not always be a rule, outsourcing really can reduce business expenses since it is more cost-effective.
- Mitigate risks – delegating software development to a professional team with a well-established workflow can help businesses reduce risks and, at the same time, ensure faster marketing time, and better quality of the end product.
- Save time – filling the talent gap takes time, and so does software development, but outsourcing solves both issues giving your internal team time to focus on other things that matter.
- And there’s more!
Whether engaging your internal team in software development or delegating this matter to a professional provider of custom software development services, you will still see software development methodologies play a huge role in this process. Thus, for the sake of the project’s success, it is vital that you have a clear understanding of what options are there and what software development methodology works best for your project. So, let’s move on to the most exciting part.
5 Trending Methodologies to Take Software Development to the Next Level in 2021
The agile software development model has been trending for several years. Though it’s no longer new to us, it keeps leading the charts of the most widely used development models.
According to stats, in 2020 alone, 71% of companies worldwide were adopting Agile and there are quite a few reasons for that. The major pros of Agile methodology are its flexibility and adaptability. Unlike other types of software development models, Agile allows recurrent alterations, while keeping the project management procedure well-organized.
Another important feature of Agile is that it implies the creation of software in short time boxes called iterations, which typically last from one week to one month. This basically means that teams that adopted Agile release the software in short iterations, each time adding mini-increments of new functionality. Such an approach can bring multiple benefits, including:
- Adaptive process;
- Retained motivation;
- Higher efficiency.
What’s more, Agile also allows teams to minimize a wide range of risks. They include changing requirements, bugs, or cost overruns. It can also help boost the overall product quality as the teams can detect and fix any mismatches and defects in the early stages.
Finally, one more thing to keep in mind about Agile is that it comes in many different forms (both primary and auxiliary). Which of the following is not a primary form of Agile methodology:
- Extreme Programming (XP)
- Feature-Driven Development
In this list, SDLC kind of stands aside, though it’s being widely adopted, especially in a hybrid approach. Unlike other options, it is not a primary form of Agile.
Among all software development methodologies, Waterfall is a true old-timer. For decades (approximately from the 70s to 00s), it was considered a classic approach to software development and it is still effective.
Unlike other software development methodologies, for example, Agile, Waterfall is not adaptive or flexible at all. This methodology is linear and very strict. It has well-defined stages and set deliverables for each of those stages. Although it may sound like a drawback (especially in today’s flexible world), Waterfall is still there because it is one of the best approaches to projects that requires rigorous organization and compliance with high-quality standards.
The main distinctive feature of the Waterfall method is that it brings along a cascade-like organization, which implies that all phases of the project follow one another steadily and a new phase can only be started once the previous one has been completed. This basically means that developers can’t really go back and change something in their projects once they’re past the relevant stage.
The phases included in the Waterfall methodology are as follow:
Such a strict organization requires having well-defined requirements for the entire project from the early stage. It also takes more time to integrate any changes after planning. However, it does have certain pros:
- It’s simple and seamless;
- It’s functional;
- It does not require as much client involvement;
- It allows detailed documentation;
- It makes it easy to estimate the schedule and final cost of the project.
Even if you are not well familiar with different software development methodologies, we bet that you’ve still heard about DevOps at least at some point. For years, this software development model has been trending. It has been adopted by many companies across the globe.
The key thing that makes DevOps so popular is its contribution to the overall organizational culture within the enterprise. Unlike most other software development methodologies that focus on bringing structure directly to a particular project, DevOps aims to deliver more massive organizational chances that boost collaboration between different departments (including development, operations, and quality assurance) within the same company.
Thus, thanks to its ability to enhance collaboration between teams, DevOps does not only help streamline the workflow during a single project but actually helps ensure the successful operation of all departments in the long run. Other core benefits of adopting DevOps methodology include:
- Faster time to market each product thanks to effective collaboration;
- Lower failure rate;
- Maximized reliability;
- Minimized disruption;
- Shorter lead time between fixes;
- Continuous deployment.
Additionally, though the time to market is significantly reduced, DevOps allows teams to ensure higher employee productivity, efficiency, product quality, and customer satisfaction.
Yet, despite all the benefits of this approach, there are also a couple of drawbacks that DevOps teams are facing. Namely, some clients may not want to have continuous updates, or the delivery pipeline can get somewhat slower when some quality attributes that require human interaction pop up. However, these drawbacks fade against the backdrop of all the DevOps benefits.
Rapid Application Development (or simply RAD) is another modern methodology that is trending these days. Unlike other website methodologies, RAD is considered to be one that ensures the highest quality of the end product at the lowest investment costs.
In a nutshell, the Rapid Application Development method consists of four phases:
- Requirements planning
- User design
The main trick of the RAD is that the two biggest phases – User design and Construction repeat as many times as necessary until the user confirms that the project meets all the stated requirements. Such an organization of the workflow allows immediate adjustments, which reduces the time to market, maintaining the low cost at the same time.
Compared to other development methodologies we’ve discussed so far, Rapid Application Development is considered to work best for time-sensitive, small to medium projects. However, it’s worth noting that in order to make the most of RAD, it’s vital that the team has a stable composition, a well-defined business objective, and a clear idea of their targeted user group.
Are there any cons? Just like any other methodology, RAD does have a couple of drawbacks. Namely, applying immediate resolutions throughout each stage requires developers to be deeply knowledgeable and have solid skills. Otherwise, the development timeline may not be quite as rapid as one might expect. And, as was already mentioned, the composition and, thus, the organization in a team must be stable or you are unlikely to benefit from the Rapid Application Development methodology.
The last one of the modern software development models we are going to discuss is Lean. Similar to Agile, this methodology is associated with a great level of flexibility but, at the same time, these two are very different.
Unlike Agile that focuses on delivering bits of value in short time boxes until the final product meets the client’s needs, Lean implies that developers first create a bare-minimum version of the product based on the client’s requirements and then, based on the feedback, implement the needed changes.
Such an approach has several benefits:
- It ensures the maximum elimination of resource waste;
- It enables teams to deliver products quickly, without compromising on quality;
- This methodology allows to delay some critical decisions until the phase when there is a clear vision of the product and certain feedback from clients;
- Smart optimization of the entire product (instead of its separate parts) based on the client’s feedback;
- Improved efficiency of the workflow.
Thanks to the reduced waste, quick delivery, and no compromise of the quality, the Lean model is now trending, especially among startups. The reason why it is considered to work best for startups is that they often don’t have a complete vision of the end product and all the requirements at the early stage of development. Following this approach, startups can launch their bare versions of the product, collect real users’ feedback and market metrics, and, based on this data, bring their products to perfection by rolling out the needed updates.
The first uses of software development methodologies date back to the 1950s. Since then, they have become an integral part of software development.
Over the decades, methodologies have been evolving, with more and more new options appearing on a regular basis. In every decade, specialists outlined a specific methodology that best fitted the time and had the potential to solve the most relevant problems of their time.
A lot has changed since then. Today, having so many different options, it is impossible to say which software development methodology best suits the needs of modern users. There is a strict and old-fashioned Waterfall, a flexible and adaptive Agile, and many other alternatives.
However, even these days, every existing and new methodology has its specific purpose. Each is meant for a specific scenario and type of project. And each has its perks.
Today, different companies use different development methodologies (and, sometimes, even a combination of multiple ones) to structure their projects, make their workflows more productive, and get the desired results. Hopefully, after reading this article, you have a better understanding of the most widely adopted methodologies of our days, their pros, distinctive features, etc.
And which software development methodologies do you use?