The 5 best Software Development Processes

The 5 best Software Development Processes


Although the software development life cycle (SDLC) we described above would appear to be a step-by-step strategy, it’s actually more of a guideline.

Yes, you must check each item to guarantee that the software you deploy and maintain is excellent. It is up to you how, when, and in what order you check them. In order to handle ever-more-complex projects, a variety of various software development procedures have been standardised over time. Which one, though, is best for you?

Which method you choose will ultimately depend on your objectives, the size of your team and the project, among other things.

Here are the benefits and drawbacks of the top 5 software development processes to aid in your decision-making:

1. Waterfall Model

One of the earliest and most established processes for creating software is the waterfall method, commonly referred to as the “linear sequential model” or “Classic lifecycle model.” The Waterfall technique can be thought of as simply following each stage of the SDLC in order; you must complete each step before going on. The phases do, however, partially overlap in most real-world applications, with information and feedback being transmitted back and forth.

Since knowing everything that must be done and in what order is necessary to finish a project, some people also like to refer to this method as “plan-driven.” Because each portion flows into the next, it is called a “waterfall”.


  1. Planning
  2. Requirements
  3. System and software design
  4. Implementation
  5. Testing
  6. Deployment
  7. Maintenance/Updates
Who it's for:

The Waterfall software development approach functions well when your goals, needs, and technology stack are unlikely to significantly alter during the development process due to its rigorous structure and extensive up-front preparation time (such as during shorter one-off projects).

In more concrete terms, larger companies (like government agencies) that need sign-offs and paperwork on all criteria and scope before a project starts are best suited for the Waterfall method.


Who it isn't for:

The Waterfall development method is generally not the best choice for you if you’re testing a new product, need user feedback in the middle of development, or want to make your process more dynamic.

Although simple, this procedure’ major flaw is that it isn’t adaptable. You won’t be developing and testing MVPs or prototypes while reevaluating them as you go. And as a result, if your scope is not well written, you can end up choosing the incorrect course without realising it until launch day.

2. Agile and Scrum

Iterative and dynamic development methods are chosen by the Agile software development process (and its most well-known technique, Scrum).

Cross-functional teams work in “Sprints” of 2 weeks to 2 months in Agile, as opposed to the rigid, sequential flow of the Waterfall approach, to develop and ship viable software to customers for feedback.

Agile development is all about moving quickly, delivering frequently, and meeting the actual demands of your users—even if it means deviating from your original plan. This implies that you don’t need a comprehensive SOW and a list of all criteria before beginning work. Instead, you are essentially travelling in one direction while anticipating changing your route at some point.

Agile is much more than simply this (which we cover in this Guide to implementing Agile and Scrum). Here is a straightforward illustration of how it might appear in use, though. Consider that you are developing a new feature for one of your products that might have X, Y, and Z features. Instead of spending months producing everything, you would spend 2-4 weeks (in what is referred to as a “Agile Sprint”) generating the absolute minimum that is both helpful and useable and then release it to your clients.

As a result, the software development process might have tighter feedback loops, enabling you to adjust and respond to actual consumer needs.


  1. Product Backlog
  2. Sprint backlog
  3. Sprint (Design & Develop)
  4. Release working software
  5. Feedback and validation (add to backlog)
  6. Plan next sprint
Who it's for:

Agile is the software development process of choice for the majority of startups and technology organisations testing new products or conducting regular upgrades to established ones due to its dynamic and user-focused nature.

Agile enables businesses to move more quickly and test theories without risking their entire existence on a huge release that their users may not like since incremental releases and user feedback gathering are made easier. It’s also simpler to monitor defects and revert back to a previous product version if something more significant is wrong because testing occurs after each little iteration.

Who it isn't for:

On the other hand, Agile projects’ dynamic nature makes it simple for projects to go over their initial timeline or budget, cause issues with the architecture already in place, or be derailed by poor management. This means that teams with limited resources or a fear of taking risks should avoid it.

Furthermore, effectively utilising Agile and Scrum requires commitment and a firm grasp of the underlying procedure. As a result, it’s critical that your team have at least one committed Scrum master to ensure that sprints and milestones are met and the project doesn’t stall out.

3. Incremental and Iterative

The iterative and incremental software development approaches strike a balance between the upfront planning and structure of the Waterfall process and the adaptability of Agile.

The concept of developing little pieces of software and exposing them to consumers for input may be the same in both, but what is created during each release varies.

Each “incremental” improvement of the product during the incremental software development process adds a basic version of a new function or feature. Imagine creating an overall concept, developing an MVP with only the essential elements, and then incorporating user feedback to add more features.

However, each version you release in the iterative software development process has a copy of each of your planned features. Imagine creating a v0.1 with the simplest possible iteration of each feature before upgrading it all at once in v0.2, v0.3, and so on.

Incremental Phases:

  1. Increment Planning
  2. Specifications
  3. Development
  4. Validation
  5. Repeat for each version

Iterative Phases:

  1. Analysis
  2. Design
  3. Development
  4. Testing (Repeat these until you’re ready to release)
Who it's for:

Both of these are excellent for large projects with clear scopes since they give some flexibility to your software development process without completely abandoning your overarching strategy (or teams with less risk tolerance).

You receive early feedback on your main feature when using an incremental method, which can help you quickly confirm your business case. The iterative approach, however, gives people a sneak preview of what the final product might look like so you can obtain better, more targeted input.

In both situations, talking to users early on about what they really want can save you a tonne of time, money, and hassles compared to waiting until later in the development cycle.

Who it isn't for:

Unfortunately, trying to provide a flexible approach structure has its own problems. It’s possible that as your company’s objectives, practises, or technologies evolve, earlier iterations become obsolete or unreliable. Or perhaps you add functionality without trying to find efficiencies, which results in a cluttered, bloated codebase.

Additionally, early planning and architectural building are crucial for both of these models (and the iterative method in particular). Because of this, they aren’t the best choice for smaller projects or teams that are still experimenting with use-cases and trying to find product-market fit.

What distinguishes incremental, iterative, and agile methodologies?

You might be wondering how the incremental, iterative, and Agile software development approaches differ if you’ve only read the last few parts. Despite their close resemblance, there are a few significant variances.

In the incremental approach, each step creates a finished feature. Smaller components of each feature are being built while iterative is in progress.

Agile, on the other hand, integrates elements from both strategies. You construct a little chunk of each feature, one at a time, in each Agile sprint, and over time, incrementally add functionality and new features.

4. V-Shaped

The traditional Waterfall method’s major flaw—a lack of testing—is made up for by the V-shaped software development approach.

Each stage of the V-shaped process is followed by a stringent “validation and verification” step where requirements are validated before going on, as opposed to working sequentially through the development process and saving all your testing for the end.


  1. Requirements
  2. Specifications
  3. High-level design
  4. Low-level design
  5. Development
  6. Unit testing
  7. Integration testing
  8. System testing
  9. Acceptance testing
Who it's for:

Teams working on constrained projects of a smaller scale. If your project is modest with fairly static (and unambiguous) needs, the V-shaped software development approach is ideal. It offers lots of possibilities to test along the road rather than taking the chance of following a plan only to discover problems at the very end.

Who it isn't for:

The best-laid intentions frequently fail. And this procedure’ drawbacks are essentially the opposite of its advantages.

Due of the strict structure and testing schedule you are adhering to, there is first a lack of control. You still run the danger of creating the incorrect software for your business case without early input and feedback from your users. And third, it’s virtually impossible to make a detailed enough development plan in advance if you’re developing anything larger than a straightforward, little project.

5. Spiral

The V-shaped method’ emphasis on testing and risk analysis is combined with iterative, incremental, and agile software development to create the spiral process.

The next stage is to perform a thorough risk analysis to find faults or areas of high risk after a plan has been established for a particular iteration or milestone. Let’s take an example where you develop a feature for your strategy without customer validation. Make a prototype to test with users before entering the full development phase rather than just adding it to your current milestone. The scope broadens further (like a spiral) once each milestone is accomplished, and planning and a new risk assessment are conducted.


  1. Planning
  2. Risk Assessment
  3. Development and validation
  4. Evaluate results and plan next “loop”
Who it's for:

Obviously, reducing risk is the main goal of a procedure like this. Following a path like this can make sense if you’re working on a big or important project that needs a lot of documentation and validation along the way. It’s particularly helpful if a client is unsure of the specifications and anticipates significant changes when the product is being developed.

Who it isn't for:

The spiral software development process sounds great in principle, but because it takes so long and is so expensive to implement, it is rarely actually used. Instead, it is frequently cited as an illustration of how to approach an iterative development process with critical thought.

Plans and procedures are merely assumptions.

 It may seem as though there are unlimited paths ahead of you when you’re first developing a new piece of software. But pause for a moment and keep in mind that every software development process and methodology boils down to four fundamental concepts instead of feeling overwhelmed:

  1. Understand it: Know what you want to build and why.
  2. Build it: Design and develop working software.
  3. Test it: Give it to users to try and gather feedback.
  4. Evolve it: Use that feedback to make it better.

The same procedures apply when deciding which development process is best for you. Understanding the SDLC’s stages will help you choose a process that feels right for you. Once you’ve tried it out, ask your customers for feedback. Keep in mind that it has a lifecycle. If you don’t get it right the first time, figure out why, then choose a different process and restart.

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