Top 7 Software Development Models You Should Know in 2021

The quality of your software project heavily depends on the way you approach its development. It can either make or break your project. Software development may be the reason a project is finished on time and meets the client’s expectations, or it never sees the light of the day. Hence, it would be best if you choose a suitable software development model.

But the problem is there are over 50 recognized software development models in use. Each has its pros and cons. How would you know which one suits your needs?

That’s why we did a little digging and brought you a list of the seven best software development models that are frequently used in 2021 – ranging from the good old waterfall model to agile software development. Here we have compared them in detail, weighing the pros and cons of all software development methodologies. Let’s dive in to learn which is the best for your project:

What are Popular Models in Software Development?

1. Waterfall Model

Waterfall Model

The waterfall model follows a linear approach to software development. As the name indicates, the project process flows downwards like a waterfall – starting with conceptualization and leading to design, development, testing, and deployment.

Here are a few characteristics of the waterfall model:

  • Each stage is strictly documented.
  • The next stage doesn’t start unless the previous one is complete.
  • Clients can’t try the software until it is fully developed, leading to high project risks and unpredictable results.
  • Any new requirements, if they arise, can’t be added in the middle of the project. You’ll have to wait until the software is developed.

The Waterfall model is simple and easy to understand. Especially if you are working on small or midsized projects where requirements are clearly defined like small company websites, the waterfall model can be a great approach. It is also well-suited for tight budget projects where you have to follow the rules & regulations and use a standard technology stack.

However, it’s better to look for other alternatives if you are working on large projects with indefinite timelines, unclear requirements, and no-budget constraints.

2. V-model (Validation & Verification Model)

V Model

V-model is another linear approach to software development in which we incorporate a testing activity related to that stage. As a result, the project turns out to be of exceptional quality.

Here are a few critical characteristics of the V-model:

  • The V-model is time-consuming and costly as we’re testing at each stage.
  • Since we’re gathering requirements initially and can’t change them, it is challenging to implement architecture code, code, and requirement flaws even if we’re detecting them earlier.

V-model is best suited if you are working on critical projects requiring a higher quality control level and have no scope for failure.

3. Incremental & Iterative Development Model

Incremental Development

Iterative Model

Built to overcome the shortcomings of the waterfall model, the incremental model consists of several mini waterfall cycles. We divide a project into several small sections, thus allowing developers to use the learnings and insights to improve the further iterations.

We follow two types of approaches in this model:

  • Incremental development in which we split a project into several iterations with little to no chance in earlier modules when the iteration is added.
  • Iterative development in which the software evolves at each iteration, but the software design remains consistent.

The most significant benefit of the incremental model is that it takes less time to develop. Also, it becomes possible to incorporate sudden changes in the project as there is no need for full specification in a project’s beginning. However, this doesn’t mean we can include even the most radical changes. So, ensure you are defining all critical requirements in the beginning.

Another benefit of incremental & iterative software development is that you can involve customers right from the beginning to ensure they know what you’re building.

You can use the incremental development approach for developing large enterprise applications built on the microservice architecture.

 4. Spiral Model

By combining the elements of both the iterative and waterfall development models, the Spiral model ensures you can reap the benefits of both the top-down and the bottom-up development approaches.

Since the model emphasizes risk assessment and divides the entire development process into phases, it can help a lot in your projects. The model can even help you in more accurate planning and budgeting of the project. Also, you can involve customers in the exploration and review steps of each cycle.

However, the Spiral model has its own set of downsides like:

  • Since the model heavily emphasizes risk evaluation, you need people who have a strong background in risk evaluation.
  • Repurposing the process can be confusing as it is highly customized.

The software development model is best for large projects with unclear business needs, or you’re introducing a new service/product.

5. RAD Model

RAD Software Development Model

The rapid application development (RAD) model is an enhancement of the incremental development model. In this model, we develop multiple components simultaneously as if we develop several small, individual projects. Once created, we assemble different parts into working prototypes.

The most significant benefit of the Rapid Application Development (RAD) model is that it can reduce development time significantly. Also, it allows you to incorporate customer feedback throughout the software development lifecycle.

However, a major downside of the RAD model is that its applicability is limited. Also, you need people who have excellent planning, modeling, and programming skills. Besides, any issues in the assembly of components can result in unplanned issues.

The Rapid Application Development (RAD) model is applicable for projects that you can modularize into small increments. It is not meant for complex projects as it can lead to further complications.

6. Kanban

Kanban Software Development Model

Compared to other software development models that heavily focus on development, the Kanban model emphasizes plan visualization. You will hardly find any iterations in it. In case there are any, they are very short (usually daily sprints).

In the Kanban model, we use a Kanban board that represents all project activities, responsible people, and the progress on each project. This increased transparency ensures the project finishes on time and everyone contributes their best to it. Also, since there is no planning stage, you can introduce new changes at any time. Besides, communication with the customer keeps going. So, you always get to incorporate their feedback.

Despite this, the Kanban model is not free from drawbacks. Here are some downsides of Kanban:

  • Lack of synchronization between resources results in inefficiencies.
  • The Kanban approach assumes that plans are stable and consistent to a certain level. As a result, it is not meant for dynamic situations where requirements change frequently.

While the Kanban approach is frequently used in software support and evolution projects, you should combine it with other software development models like scrum if you want to yield maximum results in software development.

7. Agile Development Model

Agile Software Development Model

Agile development is one of the most frequently used software development models, mainly because of its benefits and ease of execution. In this model, we break a project into small incremental sprints that we develop on an iterative basis. The approach relies heavily on the collaboration between the client and cross-functional teams.

The biggest benefit of the agile development model is that it reduces software development time. Also, it’s easy to incorporate client feedback as we communicate with them right from the beginning. However, the problem arises when there is no clear collaboration and communication between clients and team members. Without it, the approach can be futile.

So, you learned about seven different software development models along with their advantages and disadvantages. Hopefully, now you know which approach may suit your better and which may not. Still, if you have any questions, feel free to let us know. We’ll be happy to help you.

James Wilson

James Wilson is a seasoned Content Writer at Net Solutions, New York, for ten years with an expertise in blogging, writing creative and technical copy for direct response markets, and B2B and B2C industries. Born and brought up in New York, James holds a bachelor’s degree in English Literature. He has worked for industries like IT, software product design and development, Lifestyle, and written some great insights on technologies like user experience design, mobile app development, eCommerce, etc. Besides his technical background, he is not very disconnected from the digital in his free time – he loves to binge-watch Netflix.

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