Explore seven carefully chosen software development models and learn how each one compares.
What are the software development models? Which software development models to choose? Software development models allow a pathway for navigating the entire software development cycle. Agile, Spiral, Waterfall, Iterative, V-shaped, Prototyping, and Scrum software development models provide a range of benefits for building a high-quality product in different scenarios.
7 Software Development Models Comparison
The global software development market is expected to reach $733 billion by 2028. Numerous technological trends are boosting the market’s growth. Moreover, different global shifts in how companies conduct business are reshaping the game.
Harvard Business Review indicates that the digitalization of the economy makes software development a key component in getting a competitive advantage. Simply put, businesses offering custom software development tailored to customer needs will be at the forefront of the market’s growth.
In addition, the delivery of a top-notch product directly depends on particular software development models used. Putting the puzzle together—if you choose the correct software engineering model, you have a higher chance of turning your product into a competitive advantage. Let’s explore the notion of software development models and investigate seven key models proven to have broad recognition on the global market.
What Are Software Development Models?
In a nutshell, software development models illustrate how a development team should navigate through all the cycles of the software building process. The entire project’s budget, timeline, and quality depend on the model. With more than fifty software development models available, it is often difficult to choose the right one. No model can be regarded as a silver bullet. In other words, each model has its pros and cons. The process can be even more challenging when a company selects a different model for different projects.
A software development model entails various processes, procedures, and methodologies. These help achieve business objectives and allow teams to design a product or service that will perfectly represent what the company intended to create on paper. Keeping that in mind, choosing the right software development model is paramount. It will direct the entire development cycle. What is more, once you have started adopting a certain model, there is no way back, and you cannot change it for another one. However, any given model’s success in software development depends on its functionality.
How Do Software Engineering Models Work?
Software engineering models work in several successive steps. Following these stages determines whether the selected method will succeed or fail.
- Put together business requirements and analyze all the factors aiding the model.
- Establish scope, technical, and business objectives.
- Create a roadmap as a key aspect of planning and scheduling for all the processes to be carried out.
- Present interface and architectural designs within a Design Document Specification (DDS).
- Develop and test the wireframes and technologies within the product per the model’s DDS
- Support and monitor the scope of post-development operations.
These key steps represent each particular model’s functionality. Besides, these phases show how the software product will be developed from top to bottom. At this point, now that we’ve covered how software development models work, it is time to speak a few words on how to choose them.
How Do You Choose Models in Software Development?
Several core factors direct a company toward a certain model. These elements are the following:
- Timeline. This factor determines how much time you dedicate to the entire project.
- Size. This element is all about the project’s scope, involving the number of people working on it.
- Skill. This aspect concerns the skill level of technicians and managers who will utilize the model.
- Conditions. This component is about the budget dedicated to the project.
- Scope. This feature is about the number of industries the project will affect.
- Objective. This characteristic is all about goals a project should achieve.
- Language. This constituent is about programming languages and the tech stack used for the project.
These foundational elements help determine the software development model your project needs. Without further ado, let’s proceed to the selected models.
7 Most Popular Software Development Models Comparison
Out of the 50+ models available, the following are the most commonly recognized. They each have their own pros and cons. And, in proper conditions, these models can bring massive positive business benefits.
1. Agile Software Development Models
In short, Agile methodologies have iterative elements and follow an incremental model. However, they proved to be more adaptive and allowed faster product delivery. Agile software development models are flexible and work through breaking down the process into smaller components. Every component has a particular timeframe and often has various teams working on each one. Such an approach generally decreases the production duration and can reduce operational costs. Essentially, Agile methodology can be divided into several key techniques:
- Rational Unified Process (RUP)
- Extreme Programming (XP)
Within the scope of Agile methodologies, the given approaches and iterations have similar processes. The models start with planning, proceed with requirements analysis, design, coding, and unit testing, and end with acceptance testing. Respectively, following these phases brings certain advantages and creates particular issues to consider.
- Rapid development
- Minimal resource usage
- Cross-functional cooperation
- Works with rapidly shifting environments
- Easily manageable process
- Needs an Agile leader
- Overreliance on developers
- Challenging technology transfer due to lack of documentation
- Strict project scope
- Cannot work with complex dependencies
All in all, Agile software development models are best used for software projects of medium size. Agile models are the best fit when you need to accelerate the development process while the team is looking for ways to stay flexible regarding various priorities. However, you should have an Agile leader to navigate the process, and the lack of documentation will make developers key players in the process.
2. Spiral Software Development Life Cycle Models
The Spiral software development model is presented as having elements of the Waterfall and Iterative methods. From the former, it takes a systematic approach with greater control over project development. The latter offered the possibility of cycled development. This model has the biggest emphasis on risk analysis. It is delivered through four key stages:
- Identification. This stage entails gathering business requirements and establishing communication with the client.
- Design. This phase focuses on conceptual, architectural, logical, physical, and final designs.
- Construct. This step is all about the actual development of the product.
- Risk analysis. This stage emphasizes managing the feasibility of the product and identifying all possible management risks.
All the stages are delivered sequentially. Importantly, to proceed to the next phase, it is important to have a client and a development team evaluate and verify each given iteration. Following the process entails particular upsides and downsides.
- Extensive usage of prototypes
- High-end-user interaction with a product at the early stages
- High-risk elements can be deployed at early stages to decrease the risk of the project
- Accurate requirements
- Hard-to-manage model
- Work bad with low-risk projects
- High operational costs
- Requires extensive documentation
Keeping all pros and cons in mind, the Spiral software development cycle models are best for projects with foreseen risks. If you have a high-risk product to carry out, the approach helps to develop the riskiest elements first and test them. The model entails complexity, and the product can change within its development cycle.
3. Waterfall Software Development Life Cycle Models
The Waterfall methodology is the forefather of models for software development. This approach implies a linear process with each given stage completed consecutively. There is no possible overlap within the model’s scope. The Waterfall approach includes the following steps:
- Requirements analysis
- Coding and testing
- Integration verification
These phases allow understanding of the needs of the project, its purpose, and its initial design. Further, you define the system architecture and execute the plan starting with developing smaller components—units. In later phases, the team identifies and fixes any defects, delivers the polished version of the product to customers, and offers support in adjusting and updating it following the changing needs of the given environment. At this point, there are certain pros and cons to this software engineering model.
- Simple to use
- Easy in terms of management
- Clearly defined linear stages
- Well-documented processes and outcomes
- Working end-product model at later stages only
- Entails a degree of uncertainty
- Not suitable for complex products
- It doesn’t involve requirements change
As a result, the Waterfall software development life cycle models are best for short-term projects. The development team can easily navigate and manage the process with its well-documented and apparent requirements and stages. What is more, the models allow following a strict timeframe. The Waterfall model is there to help you deliver a small project as soon as possible and with almost no involvement from the product owner.
4. Iterative Model for Software Development
The Iterative model focuses on delivering the project via small requirements and enhancing it with various iterations. Simply put, developers have a small part of the product for review and testing. As an outcome, the team receives new requirements and proceeds with product expansion, considering the texting results of all previous iterations. It is a smart approach, namely because each further iteration brings a better version of the product. In contrast to the Waterfall model, this approach doesn’t entail a linear process and makes it possible to carry out various project parts simultaneously. These are the key phases:
These are carried out circularly from the initial planning toward the deployment. Respectively, this scheme is applied to each given interaction and can be done quickly. With the given approach in mind, the Iterative model for software development presents certain advantages and disadvantages.
- Allows testing the product’s functionality early
- Cyclical outcomes
- Enables parallel deployment of iterations
- Easily trackable project success
- Reduced time for production
- The high degree of testing eliminates risks
- Requires additional resources
- Complex management involved
- It doesn’t work with small projects
- High risk in terms of the end project
The Iterative model for software development is best suited for projects with clearly defined requirements. Besides, the approach offers leverage when your development team has just learned new technologies and works on different project components at the same time. Finally, consider the Iterative model if you expect business goals to change in the future.
5. Validation and Verification Model
The Validation and Verification model is also known as the V-shaped model. This approach delivers the project in a sequence of steps that later make a V-shaped structure. This method entails testing within each phase of the cycle. Simply put, the V-shaped model works in the following manner—you carry out a stage, test it, and only then proceed to the next step. In this method, there are four verification phases:
- Analysis of requirements
- System design
- Module design
- Architectural design
In turn, the Validation component includes four different phases:
- Testing units
- Testing integrations
- Testing the system
- Testing the degree of acceptance
Both validation and verification come toe-to-toe and are delivered in a parallel manner. Yet, there is an additional coding stage. It combines steps within verification and validation, thus completing the V shape. The Validation and Verification model has its pros and cons.
- Apparent structure
- Phases delivered one by one
- Includes an apparent project scope
- Simple to manage
- It entails a high degree of risk
- Work only for short-term projects
- Visible product functionality at later stages
Overall, this model for software development works best for simple and short-term projects with clearly identified requirements. To get the most out of the method, the development team needs to understand the method’s work and the project’s scope. Add any degree of complexity, and the risk of the project’s failure will grow exponentially.
6. Prototyping Model for Software Engineering
The notion of prototyping is linked to creating product prototypes with minimum features and incomplete visual components mimicking the end product. This model of software engineering is used to deliver a product that can better understand customer needs and have more feedback. The method includes the following components:
- Basic requirements identification
- Initial prototype development
- Initial prototype review
- Revision and updating
These basic elements work with all types of prototyping. Namely, you can develop several rapid, evolutionary, incremental, and extreme prototypes. They depend on a different vision of user needs, your budget, the project scope, and the complexity. In such a case, the Prototyping model has its upsides and downsides.
- A high degree of user involvement
- Time and cost reduction
- More user feedback equals better adjusting
- Easy identification of difficult companies at early stages
- High dependency on a prototype
- It depends on user experience, meaning they can confuse prototypes with the end product
- Changing the scope of the product can boost complexity
- Without proper monitoring, building prototypes can be much costlier than planned
The pros as mentioned above and cons suggest the Prototyping model is the best option in a project entailing a high level of interaction with an end user. If you intend a user to fill out various feedback forms and your software will work with much data processing, this software engineering model is for you.
7. Scrum Model for Software Development Life Cycle
While we’ve covered the Agile methodology in general, the Scrum model is the one that requires additional attention. The interactions in this approach are called sprints; a team needs one to four weeks to develop one. Essentially, the model works in the following way—a team develops a sprint, tests and assesses it, and then proceeds to add features in the planning for the next sprint. This simple sequence provides certain upsides and downsides.
- Higher team accountability for every sprint delivered
- A clear vision of results
- Works with changing project scopes
- Cost- and time-efficient
- Harder management for larger teams
- Changing teams means thwarting the entire process.
- Speed of delivery directly depends on the output of each team member
Essentially, these elements suggest the Scrum model may be the best fit for projects with well-established teams. They can look through the entire process and deliver visible results within each stage. Yet, if there are issues with team management on the horizon, you will feel it on the project’s success.
What Software Development Model Does Intetics Use?
When delivering its products, Intetics uses a Predictive Software Engineering model. This software engineering approach entails seven key concepts:
- Meaningful customer care
- Transparent end-to-end control
- Proven productivity
- Efficient distributed teams
- Agile delivery process
- Measurable quality management and technical debt reduction.
- Sound human development
Using the insights from more than 27 years of hands-on experience in software engineering, Intetics understands the value of great customer care and product customization. The fundamental approach involved is all about building the product from the ground up to ensure total control and low risk.
Predictive Software Engineering makes engineering precise and predictable. One can say that the given model emerged from years of experience in working with different software development models coupled with major business insights received from other success stories. Intetics knows how to offer tailored-to-your-needs products with low risk and high quality.
Choosing the proper software development models leads to developing the best quality products. The comparison above shows that each given method has its distinct process along with pros and cons. You can evaluate these components to understand which model fits your needs best. With the software development market booming, choosing the right software engineering model has become a top priority. It can mean the difference between success and failure. However, if you aren’t sure what method to choose, you can always use the experience and expertise offered by companies like Intetics to make your life easier.