Top 5 Software Development Methodologies You Should Know

5 Software Development Methodologies

Software development methodologies have indeed undergone significant evolution. While newer, more flexible approaches like Agile have gained prominence, it’s important to note that traditional plan-based methods, such as the Waterfall model, haven’t become obsolete. The structured nature of the Waterfall model contrasts with the adaptable, flexible approach of Agile practices, showcasing the spectrum of methodologies available, each suited for different project requirements and contexts.

However, the primary goal remains the same no matter the approach, and that is to develop a working software with maximum efficiency in the least amount of time. This is a complex task and requires careful research about the pros and cons of each methodology, which is why we have prepared this article to give you an in-depth insight into the top five software development methodologies.

What is a software development methodology?

Developing software demands meticulous planning and well-defined processes to ensure efficient execution at every step. Attempting to create software without prior knowledge of the involved processes can be exceedingly challenging. This is where software development methodologies become essential.

A software development methodology refers to the processes by which programmers, designers, and managers develop and test new computer programs. It serves as a framework for structuring, managing, and controlling the processes involved in developing a software system. While not inherently technical, these methodologies are pivotal in crafting a seamless and impeccable system.

Software development firms around the world adhere to various software development methodologies for creating custom software. Each one of them has pros and cons. The main objective of these approaches is to ensure that software development proceeds as intended.

Why is it important to follow a methodology for software development?

When it comes to software development, adhering to a well-defined methodology is of utmost importance. Not only does it ensure the smooth and efficient execution of projects, but it also results in the delivery of high-quality software solutions. By following a methodology, developers can streamline their processes, minimize errors, and improve overall project management.

One of the primary reasons why it is crucial to follow a methodology in software development is its ability to enhance productivity. A well-established method provides a clear roadmap, outlining the steps and tasks involved in the development process. It enables developers to have a comprehensive understanding of the project requirements, timelines, and their individual responsibilities. With this guidance, the team can work systematically, avoiding duplications and unnecessary rework, which not only ensures that the project progresses efficiently but also helps to optimize the utilization of resources.

What are the top 5 software development methodologies?

We have combined a list of the top five software development methodologies along with their pros and cons, which are as follows:

1.   Agile software development methodology

The agile approach to software development has grown to become one of the most popular methodologies employed by every other software company that exists. It is mainly because of the unlimited flexibility that it provides, as well as the enhanced back-and-forth communication it entails with the customers. This methodology also prioritizes adaptability in the development process, focusing on delivering individual components rather than the entire system at once.

In the agile framework, the emphasis is on involving people in the development cycle, leveraging their feedback to enrich the final product. By integrating end-users and customers, agile ensures that the developed product aligns closely with user needs. This user-centric approach helps teams respond and adapt to changes more effectively, ultimately meeting customer requirements more efficiently.

Additionally, agile methodology is characterized by its reduced emphasis on extensive documentation. While it recognizes the value of documentation, the primary goal remains the practical implementation of a functional software solution.


  • Agile fosters a collaborative culture that increases organizational efficiency as teams cooperate and recognize their distinct roles in the process.
  • It works well for development processes that are expected to change quickly since it can adapt to changing requirements, priorities, and even technical improvements during the process.
  • Agile methodologies work with shorter development cycles, which allow teams to address and mitigate risks as they arise, reducing the chance of significant project setbacks.
  • Early identification of changes and risks reduces the expense of making changes later in the development cycle.


  • Due to the Agile Methodology’s lack of structure, it is easy for projects to go off course or exceed their intended scope.
  • In certain industries or situations where traceability is crucial—like healthcare or finance—insufficient documentation in Agile methods might hinder tracking decisions, changes, or meeting regulatory requirements.
  • Agile heavily relies on efficient communication throughout the development cycle, with each team member doing their task to the best of their ability. Even a single member’s lack of effort has a significant impact on the outcome.

2.   Waterfall software development methodology

The waterfall methodology is a linear project management approach where each phase must be completed before progressing to the next. It contrasts sharply with Agile, as it follows a sequential process where each step is meticulously defined and demands adherence to the predetermined plan. Unlike Agile’s iterative nature that allows for flexibility and ongoing refinement, waterfall strictly follows a structured sequence of steps, emphasizing the completion of one phase before initiating the next.

In the waterfall approach, accommodating changes can be challenging and often results in increased costs due to the rigid sequential nature of the methodology. Any modifications made to earlier stages after they’re completed necessitate revisiting and potentially reworking those phases, which is costly and time-consuming.

Moreover, everything must be documented in advance, including user stories, interface, features, etc., so accurate time estimates can be produced, and a predictable release date can be achieved.


  • By employing the waterfall model, it’s possible to establish a clear roadmap for development, which aids in predicting the characteristics of the final product.
  • It is considerably more straightforward and more accurate to estimate schedules, resources, and project costs when all the information and specifications are known upfront.
  • The model facilitates onboarding new developers without any hassle thanks to the thorough requirements document’s specifics.
  • Since waterfall uses such a structured method, progress is easier to measure against well-defined milestones.


  • The waterfall method takes a slower, more sequential approach; therefore, project delivery times may be longer than when using the agile method.
  • The structured nature of the waterfall approach doesn’t accommodate flexibility, making it less conducive to handling changes and managing risks effectively.
  • When a process phase is delayed, it affects the others as well, which causes the completion date to continually slip further behind schedule.
  • It’s not cost-effective because revisiting initial phases to implement changes incurs substantial expenses.

3.   Lean development

Lean development is a project management and software development methodology that emphasizes efficiency and minimizing waste. This approach follows the principles of Lean Manufacturing and applies them to the software development process.

The approach utilizes value stream mapping, which basically analyzes the entire development process to identify and eliminate activities that don’t contribute to value creation. It helps in streamlining workflows and reducing waste. It also focuses on respecting the expertise and contributions of team members. It involves empowering employees, encouraging their involvement in decision-making, and fostering a collaborative environment.

The guiding principles encourage developers to focus on productive tasks, ensuring quality in their work. Additionally, the methodology emphasizes continuous learning and postponement of decisions. This empowers teams to maintain flexibility throughout development, considering various factors before making final decisions.


  • The lean principles significantly reduce the cost of development.
  • Team members are empowered as they are given greater influence over the different procedures involved and decision-making authority.
  • By eliminating unnecessary steps, processes, and features, teams can optimize their workflow and create products more quickly. This leads to shorter development cycles and faster time-to-market.
  • Teams that prioritize continuous improvement are more inclined to review and enhance their procedures on a regular basis, which results in increased productivity.


  • Lean development requires detailed documentation, which is not easy to put together and maintain throughout the development lifecycle.
  • The potential for delays brought on by specific bottlenecks or insufficient resources is a major issue.
  • Requires a highly skilled workforce, which is difficult to assemble.

4.   DevOps software development methodology

DevOps software development methodology combines software development (Dev) and IT operations (Ops) into a single continuous process. This approach fosters collaboration and communication between development and operations teams, leading to faster and more reliable software releases.

DevOps employs automation and other technologies, such as continuous integration and continuous deployment, to make the software development life cycle more efficient. It works by automating repetitive tasks and reducing the time to deliver the products.

DevOps closely matches the agile methodology in terms of its flexibility and tolerance to change; however, it is more focused on administrative and automation processes. Usually, businesses that use the DevOps approach develop and update software products more quickly as compared to others.


  • Promotes collaboration among development, operations, and other teams, fostering a culture of shared responsibility and communication.
  • Automated testing and continuous monitoring ensure a higher quality product as issues are identified and fixed early in the development process.
  • Code change integration and deployment are streamlined by CI/CD in DevOps, which reduces errors and boosts productivity.
  • Software updates or products can be delivered more quickly thanks to DevOps’ ability to accelerate the development, testing, and deployment cycles.


  • Rapid deployments may neglect security considerations, which, if left unchecked, could result in vulnerabilities.
  • Implementing and maintaining the necessary infrastructure and tooling for DevOps incurs extra costs.
  • It becomes difficult to use DevOps principles because of the substantial changes needed in the current procedures and culture.

5.   Feature-driven development

Feature-driven development falls under the agile approach as it also focuses on flexibility and responsiveness to change. The primary objective of this approach is to develop small incremental features or units of functionality as the primary means for advancement.

FDD underscores robust communication and collaboration among team members. It relies on clear, concise documentation to organize and optimize the development process efficiently. Additionally, FDD prioritizes effective project management techniques like iterative development and short, time-bound development cycles to maintain project momentum and achieve set objectives.


  • It follows a structured approach that breaks down the development process into manageable chunks, making it easier to plan, track, and manage.
  • By dividing work into feature sets, FDD enables early identification and resolution of issues related to specific features, improving overall quality.
  • FDD allows for changes in requirements as it’s designed to accommodate alterations in features based on evolving needs.


  • Each feature set’s extensive documentation can become burdensome, creating a backlog of paperwork and complicating documentation management.
  • In larger projects or teams, managing multiple feature sets simultaneously can become complex, requiring more coordination and communication.
  • In FDD, there’s a reliance on proficient developers capable of breaking down requirements into manageable feature sets. Building a team with these specialized skills poses a challenge and can create a dependency on specific skill sets within the team.

How to choose the best software development methodology?

Now that you are aware of the various software development methodologies in the industry, you might be asking yourself which one is the best and how to select the ideal approach for your project. Well, there are a few things that you must consider before deciding upon a development method for your project.

  • Evaluate your customer requirements thoroughly
  • Determine the scope of the project
  • Measure your team’s flexibility
  • Determine the best development speed for the project.
  • Weigh the pros and cons of each method

As we now know, each method has its own pros and cons, so it all comes down to your individual project needs to determine which one is the ideal approach. Consider combining the aspects of each development technique that are most effective for your team and the project you are working on when selecting your approach. This way, you will be able to develop a customized method that works best for you.