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Software Development Methodologies: Choosing the Right Approach

Software Development Methodologies: Choosing the Right Approach

Male Software Engineer Developing App on a multi-monitor computer.

Software development is a complex undertaking. Software developers often juggle conflicting requirements, multiple project stakeholders, various advanced tools, and different development teams to achieve their goals. To develop and deliver high quality software that is easy for users to access and difficult for the wrong parties to control, they have to be extremely knowledgeable, vigilant, and organized.

Given the rise of software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications and new programs that interact with multiple other systems, the software architectures and technologies that development teams use change pretty frequently. And they have to do all this without compromising data security.1

Software development methodologies provide a complete framework for managing the competing priorities of building applications, from concepting to final software testing. However, there's no one best methodology for every software development project. The ideal one for your project will depend on its parameters and goals.2

This informative blog post will cover factors to consider when choosing a software development methodology and some of the most popular options.

What Is a Software Methodology?

A software development methodology is a structured approach to software development. It provides a framework for creating, organizing, deploying, and testing software. It also makes sure that all tasks are completed according to the project requirements and in a timely manner. With a formal methodology on hand, your entire team is on the same page, and important issues are less likely to fall through the cracks.3

Different Types of Software Development Methodologies

You have different options when it comes to software methodologies, but not all of them will best suit all projects. Choosing the right methodology will improve the efficiency of your entire system, workflow, and the speed of your delivery.

Here’s an overview of some of the top software development methodologies and frameworks that cover all phases of the software development process, from initial buildout to final delivery.

Agile Development

Agile is a flexible and iterative approach to software development. It’s an overarching philosophy that includes several more specific frameworks. Agile is one of the most popular software development methodologies because it emphasizes collaboration, customer feedback, and rapid response to change. It’s ideal for projects where you expect requirements to change or you don’t know them fully at the start.

If you know you want to go with the Agile development methodology, you’ll still need to choose a defined framework for your project, such as Scrum or Kanban.4


Scrum is a framework within the Agile methodology organized around three pillars: transparency, inspection, and adaptation. It organizes work in short iterative cycles called sprints, typically lasting 2-4 weeks. Scrum relies on a cross-functional team led by a scrum master, with regular meetings, including daily stand-ups, sprint planning, and retrospectives, to monitor progress and adapt as needed. It's well-suited for projects requiring rapid, collaborative development cycles, frequent software testing, and shifting priorities.5


Originating from Lean manufacturing principles, designed to maximize productivity and minimize waste, Kanban is another Agile framework focused on visual management. It uses a Kanban board to visualize work and maximize flow. One advantage of Kanban boards is that they limit the amount of work in progress. Teams can focus more on software quality assurance and move forward without getting stuck with multiple “almost finished” jobs by simply limiting the number of tasks they can work on simultaneously. This makes Kanban suitable for ongoing, large projects with a continuous flow of work rather than distinct phases.6


The Waterfall model is a sequential development approach, where each development phase flows logically into the next, like a waterfall. It starts with extensive planning and progresses through design, implementation, testing, deployment, and maintenance. With Waterfall, you’ll invest a lot of time in planning upfront. Waterfall is most effective for projects with well-defined requirements that are unlikely to change, as it’s less adaptable than Agile methods.7


The V-Model, also known as the Verification and Validation model, is an extension of the Waterfall methodology. It emphasizes the importance of quality assurance testing at every stage of development. Each development phase, such as requirements analysis and system design, is directly linked to a testing phase. This is the best software development methodology for projects where quality and reliability are of utmost importance, but like Waterfall, it's less flexible in accommodating changes.8 This can help give a new or inexperienced software development team very clear direction.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Methodology for Software Architecture

Every software project is unique, so what works best for one may not be a good fit for another. Choosing the most suitable software development methodology depends on factors such as your team dynamics, your project requirements, and your processes.

Project and Organizational Considerations

The complexity, size, and risk associated with your project are fundamental factors in choosing a development methodology. Larger, more intricate projects may benefit from structured approaches like Waterfall, while smaller, less complex projects might be more suited to Agile methodologies.

Additionally, consider the time to market and quality requirements. Agile and DevOps are ideal for rapid development and frequent releases, whereas Waterfall or V-Model might be better for projects demanding high levels of documentation and compliance.

Your budget will also be a significant factor. Agile can be more cost-effective due to its adaptability, but Waterfall's predictability can simplify budget management.9

Team Dynamics and Stakeholder Engagement

Your team's size and experience level are essential elements in choosing a methodology. Agile methodologies often require skilled, experienced team members comfortable with rapid decision-making and changes, whereas Waterfall can be more suitable for less experienced software development teams. Agile also requires high collaboration and open communication, fitting well within less hierarchical organizational cultures.

Some methodologies also work better when dealing with a client who wants to be a part of the process. Agile encourages continuous stakeholder engagement, making it ideal for projects where they will closely participate in daily software development practices and activities. In contrast, methodologies with fewer iterations and less frequent communication, such as Waterfall or V-model, might be more appropriate for limited stakeholder involvement.10

Methodology-Specific Factors

Some projects work better with one methodology than others. For example, Agile methodologies, including Scrum and Kanban, are well-equipped to handle projects with frequent changes. The Waterfall model is not. If you’re working with customer-centric or rapidly evolving projects typical of many startups, the flexible, iterative nature of Agile or Lean methodologies allows for regular feedback and adaptation. On the other hand, if your project is long and detailed, with a single timeline, Waterfall's structured approach is a good option.11

Advance Your Career in Software Development

If you want to expand your expertise in software development, software development methodology, and tech project management, then consider a master's degree in computer science. An advanced degree will not only teach you the intricacies of small and large scale software projects, but it will also teach you how to effectively lead software development teams. You can also take courses in software engineering, data science, and information security.

  1. Retrieved on November 10, 2023, from rikkeisoft.com/blog/software-development-requirements/
  2. Retrieved on November 10, 2023, from seguetech.com/benefits-adhering-software-development-methodology-concepts/
  3. Retrieved on November 10, 2023, from indeed.com/career-advice/career-development/software-development-methodologies
  4. Retrieved on November 10, 2023, from agilealliance.org/agile101/
  5. Retrieved on November 10, 2023, from scrum.org/resources/what-scrum-module
  6. Retrieved on November 10, 2023, from atlassian.com/agile/kanban
  7. Retrieved on November 10, 2023, from business.adobe.com/blog/basics/waterfall
  8. Retrieved on November 10, 2023, from builtin.com/software-engineering-perspectives/v-model
  9. Retrieved on November 10, 2023, from kissflow.com/application-development/types-of-application-development-methodologies/#factors
  10. Retrieved on November 10, 2023, from revelo.com/blog/software-development-methodologies
  11. Retrieved on November 10, 2023, from projectmanager.com/guides/agile-vs-waterfall-hybrid-projects

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