software development

8 Best Software Development Methodologies

Software forms the basis of most devices like PCs, tablets, IoT, and smartphones. Without software, all these devices would just be pieces of metal and plastic. The software helps us control these devices and use them to our benefit.

Investments in the consumer software industry grow every year. The revenue from enterprise software worldwide will reach
326 billion dollars by 2025. As a result, the competition in the industry is very stiff. 

Considering the competition and growing demand, what does it take to develop the best software?

A lot depends on the methodology you’ll choose. Today, we’ll take a look at the most common methods for software development and discuss their pros and cons to help you make the right decision.  

Must-Know Software Development Statistics

Before choosing the best software methodology for your next project, you should know how the software industry operates. 

If you plan to develop software this year, here are some of the statistics from the
GoodFirms survey you should explore first:

  • It takes an average period of 4.5 months to deliver custom software. The project duration will depend on the technology used, requirements, and the type of software you’re developing.
  • Developers can take an average of 2 months to develop software with basic features. Unfortunately, only 7.70% of developers can meet this deadline.
  • An average software project costs $300 to $120,000. The price will depend on the integrated features and the base technology.
  • Most software development companies, at least 61.50%, prefer the Agile method.
  • The main challenge software developers face is the changing client requirements when handling projects.
  • At least 77% of software developers prefer PHP as the main programming language. However, a framework written in high-level JavaScript is also more preferred by developers.

8 Software Development Methodologies

Now, let’s explore the eight most widespread software development methodologies, their advantages and disadvantages. 

1. Agile development methodology

Agile is one of the most widely used software development methodologies. Developers prefer using this methodology to minimize cost overruns, bugs, changing client requirements, and other risks related to adding new software features and functionalities.

According to Agile software development, software engineers create the product in iterations that contain mini increments of the supposed functionality. This method was developed after growing frustrations with other highly structured methodologies like Waterfall. 

Agile helps speed up the process of designing and developing software in extreme programming. Therefore, it is one of the best methodologies you can adopt if you want to accommodate all your client’s requirements.

There are many other reasons why most teams prefer using Agile to develop software:

  • It values individuals and their interactions with the tools. 
  • Agile improves customer collaboration. 
  • It is the best method to show the software development process in action. 

Most developers prefer this methodology because it has the tools to handle all the variability and complexity in software development projects. 

With the agile method, teams work in short sprints, each including a number of milestones and deliverables. There is no specific order for achieving each objective. Instead, the team works towards coming up with working software.


  • Agile methodology is focused on strength and efficiency alongside feedback from all the team members.
  • Client satisfaction is among the major targets in any software development approach. Teams achieve client satisfaction by delivering a working and fully tested software.
  • Agile is the best methodology if you want to do IT outsourcing. There is direct communication and collaboration between teams enabling transparency.
  • Agile as a pair programming prioritizes continued improvements in the project quality, which helps identify mismatches and prevent software defects in the development life cycle.


  • Agile lacks documentation efficiency because it focuses on the practical side of software project management.
  • This object-oriented methodology requires maximum attention to avoid losing track.
  • It requires the Kanban framework for full implementation and quality assurance.
  • Programmers may require proper training to understand the project and optimize delivery speed.

2. Lean methodology

The primary focus of the Lean Development model is to come up with easy-to-manage software. This method is focused on minimizing the project duration when working on a strict budget. It can help improve the software in one-third of the target period.

The Lean method incorporates principles and practices from different manufacturing spaces and puts them into action in different industries. While most developers prefer this method, it does not provide instructions for scaling best practices in the software development life cycle (SDLC) and its application outside the development work.

Therefore, teams that employ the Agile method tend to integrate Lean’s best practices and philosophies at some point. The principles of the Lean method help developers eliminate waste, build quality software products, and speed up system development projects. 

In addition, this method can enhance decision-making at different stages of software development in a way that can help unearth issues affecting the project organizational culture. Combining Lean and Agile methods makes it possible to create a healthy and sustainable culture of innovation, which can benefit the organization and the team as a whole.


  • Lean is the best option for businesses working on a low budget and limited time.
  • It facilitates the timely delivery of software and prototyping.
  • It helps detect and eliminate waste.
  • Lean is the best for early-stage startups.
  • It improves decision-making ability.
  • The final product is of high quality.


  • It is more flexible and can contribute to the software engineering team losing focus on the project.
  • The effort of the team on the project will determine the success and time frame of the project.
  • It can be problematic because of its unsuitable business analytics.

3. DevOps 

Of all the software development methods, DevOps stands out for promoting a set of best practices and organizational culture. In addition, the method enhances collaboration between team members and the organization in the course of software development.  

Simply put, DevOps is one of the best methodologies for tighter integration and improved collaboration. It automates the processes between teams involved in software development.

In the past, those who were responsible for writing the code did not work closely with those deploying the code. That means developers and coders had different objectives. The essence of DevOps methodology is to bring the different departments in a project together, ensuring fast delivery.

With the advent of DevOps, it is now possible for different teams to collaborate on a project and ensure fast and more reliable delivery.


  • DevOps helps improve customer experience since your business delivers the best quality software to clients.
  • It leaves less room for mistakes by allowing teams to collaborate on a project. Different departments can share knowledge resulting in a high-quality product.
  • This methodology enables a business to deploy applications, processes, and systems faster.
  • DevOps encourages cross-functional collaboration, thus minimizing errors. 


  • It is expensive to hire DevOps specialists.
  • Since DevOps heavily relies on close contact between teams, poor communication can result in project delays.
  • Extensive updates may be required based on industry regulations before a project moves to the second phase.

4.  Waterfall Methodology 

Most software development companies consider the Waterfall application development methodology one of the most outdated. But most teams still prefer this method for being plan-driven. 

The Waterfall development method is a set of rigid linear models consisting of sequential phases that focus on different goals. In this method, the team must complete one stage of the project before moving to the next one. There is no way to go back to the previous phase and modify the project. You need to have a thorough plan before you start, meaning that this methodology lacks flexibility.

The basic stages in this method are straightforward and sequential. The method involves determining the basic stages in the project life, specifying the basic project requirements, designing, implementing, testing, deploying, and maintaining the final product.


  • It is easy to measure the software development progress because the full scope is established at the onset of the project. This reduces backlog and ensures continuous delivery.
  • The Waterfall method is easy to understand and manage.
  • It is the best method for project managers with little or no experience.
  • It is suitable for small projects where you can determine the requirements upfront.


  • The Waterfall is the least flexible methodology of all.
  • It requires a full restart in case any mistakes are made in the middle of the project.
  • You have to finish one stage of the project before moving to the next one.

5. Feature-Driven Development (FDD)

Feature-Driven Development (FDD) is an interactive methodology for software development that most experienced teams and business analysts prefer for complex projects. It is the best methodology for large software development teams.

FDD is also one of the best methods to switch from a phase-based method to an iterative approach. This methodology is highly functional and designed to handle various complexities you meet when handling a project.


  • It is less time-consuming and allows for more rapid software development.
  • The method is built on pre-set standards of software development which is programmed for easy execution.
  • FDD follows a user-driven approach.
  • This is one of the best methodologies for long-term projects.


  • Feature-Driven Development is not suitable for small projects.
  • The method comes with less written documentation, and this can often result in confusion.
  • It is highly dependent on lead developers.

6. Scrum Methodology

Scrum methodology is suitable for software development projects that involve frequent alterations in the information system. It is more flexible than DevOps and can cater to any changes during the project.

Most teams use Scrum when developing the software that requires a series of iterations to generate the final product. This method brings out deliberate progressing, which makes it the perfect approach for the software development project.

With Scrum, the working process is divided into sprints which make it easier to understand. All the assignments are set beforehand, and the results are discussed after a specified period. 

Scrum makes it easy for teams to spot issues in the project and solve them at the right time. This is one of the most flexible software development methods and, therefore, suitable for projects with changing client requirements.


  • Scrum makes software development more manageable. Therefore, the product gets released faster. 
  • This methodology is great for teams that want to be more productive. 
  • Scrum is cost-effective. 
  • Scrum is very flexible, helping you incorporate the necessary changes on the go. 
  • It is the best methodology for complex projects. 


  • Project failure is possible if the team is not committed and has communication issues. 
  • Scrum is not the best option for large teams. 
  • The implementation of Scrum requires training and experience. 

7. The Spiral Methodology

The Spiral methodology is a combination of Waterfall and Agile methods. It is mainly focused on the early detection of risks in software development and applying the right mitigation.

In this method, project developers begin on a small scale exploring the project risks. They develop a risk management strategy and determine whether it is possible to proceed with the next project stage.

According to the Spiral methodology, there are only three factors that can determine the success of a project; competent management, diligence, and efficiency.  In comparison to the Waterfall method, Spiral enables developers to make improvements to the software’s design and code at any stage. 

The Spiral method can fit almost every software development project given that it has effective management and a cooperative team.


  • Spiral is focused on eliminating risk, which positively impacts the final result.
  • It is one of the best methodologies for large projects.
  • Spiral involves close contact with the client.
  • According to this methodology, you produce software in the early project stages, giving you time for the necessary alterations. 


  • Spiral is unsuitable for low-risk projects because it’s expensive.
  • It’s more complex compared to other methodologies.
  • Projects following the Spiral methodology often don’t have a definite timeline. 
  • The project may be unsuccessful if the risk analysis is not conducted well.

8. Rapid Application Development (RAD)

Rapid Application Development is a variant of the Agile methodology that focuses on the rapid development of software prototypes. This method doesn’t focus too much on planning. Rather, it values team communication and user feedback.  

The RAD method involves five stages. First, you need to define project requirements and set goals. Doing so helps you set the right milestone and distribute tasks among the qualified team members. 

Next, you start building prototypes. At this point, the importance of team communication kicks in – all designers and developers have to work closely together to ensure the best result. 

Once the prototype is ready, it’s time to distribute it and collect user feedback. The information provided by users will help you move forward with further updates to the prototype. 

The fourth step involves incorporating client feedback. Keep testing the prototype and collecting even more feedback to make your software fit all the requirements. 

When all the changes are made, the software is ready for a launch. But even then, you need to keep testing and collecting customer feedback since the RAD methodology heavily relies on it. 


  • The software gets delivered faster since all teams work closely together. 
  • RAD is very flexible. 
  • The development costs are low, making RAD the best option for teams on a budget. 
  • RAD is quite friendly to new technologies.
  • RAD is the best method for small and medium projects.


  • This method is not ideal for small projects.
  • Not suitable for beginner developers and project managers.
  • The success of the project depends highly on team performance.

Final Thoughts

These are the most common software development methodologies. Each of them has unique pros, cons, and requirements. Some can be implemented by less experienced teams, while others need thorough training.

When choosing a methodology for your software development project, you have to consider its efficiency and suitability. Look deeper into the key elements and the implementation of each method to see if it is the best fit for your team.