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This year, 83% of chief information officers were urged to accomplish more with less money. However, developing secure, high-quality software, fast, and without going over budget isn’t a walk in the park for development teams.
As a result, codes may be released with unaddressed vulnerabilities, misconfigurations, or errors. Many of these same issues related to human-related errors are the basis of 74% of data breaches analyzed by Verizon’s 2023 Data Breach Investigation Report.
The good news is that many of these issues are preventable. Vulnerabilities and misconfigurations can be identified and addressed before deployment. How? With the support of a clear, structured software development process.
In this article, we have selected a pool of eight of the most popular and recognized software development methodologies. Want to make every software development project a success?
Do you know what’s my favorite moment in software development? The beginning of a new project. It’s a bit like Christmas. Everybody’s excited and they plunge headlong into the process. It’s a magical time; the start of a new adventure. Fast forward a few months and, suddenly, everything changes — sometimes, for the worse.
No one knows anymore who is doing what, team members are running around like headless chickens working on different bits and pieces, just following their guts. The outcome? A catastrophe. Deadlines aren’t met, requirements aren’t fulfilled, and everybody’s mood has suddenly darkened.
Welcome to the world of unstructured projects. It’s a place where chaos reigns supreme over unmotivated, stressed-out employees, and costs soar. The kind of place where projects have no future and your customers’ trust comes to die.
Want to transform this hell into paradise? Let’s go through the eight best software development methodologies options we have to bring structure to the situation. Choose wisely, though! Some software development methodologies may do more harm than good depending on your project and circumstance. C’mon, time to bring in some light in this dark realm!
|Feature Driven Development (FDD)
|Small and medium.
|Large and medium.
|Large and medium.
|Large and medium.
|Medium and small.
|1 to 4 weeks.
|2 to 4 weeks.
|1 to 2 weeks.
|Depends on the size of the project.
|Depends on the project’s size.
|Very short, often 1 week.
|Security always comes first.
|Is It Flexible?
|Enables faster software release; increases customer satisfaction, team performance, and project adaptability to changes.
|Boosts problem resolution and team communication; simplifies change adoption
|Provides greater value; increases team motivation and project flexibility
|Reduces the number of meetings; increases scalability and delivery velocity.
|Improves project clarity and reduces the risk of going over budget.
|Produces highly secure products; enhances code delivery velocity and customer satisfaction.
|Reduces risks; elevates project flexibility and customer satisfaction.
|Increases customer involvement; offers greater adaptability and reduces development time.
|Requires an experienced project manager and greater effort.
|Necessitates a change of mindset and requires skilled developers.
|Imposes tight deadlines and requires greater effort to keep the project on track.
|Entails a complex process that demands a strong lead and big enough projects.
|Imposes a rigid process, making it difficult to fix issues that impact customer satisfaction.
|Calls for additional training and skills due to its overall complexity.
|Requires highly qualified team members with risk assessment and rigorous time management expertise.
|Depends on active customer feedback, seasoned developers, and automation. This makes it unsuitable for critical products.
|Fast-growing technology products; urgent, unstructured, complex, or low-code projects.
|Small and fast-paced projects, or those with vague requirements and frequent changes. Requires skilled teams.
|Small projects with a tight budget and a newly created team, or startups with motivated staff.
|Suits large, long-term projects and organizations with remote teams.
|Benefits small/medium size projects with clear requirements and inexperienced teams.
|Highly secure applications projects, and organizations aiming to reduce time to market to boost revenues.
|Large, expensive, and complicated projects that require high flexibility.
|Small and medium software applications with tight deadlines and/or budgets.
Every IT professional has heard about Agile at some point in their career. Based on GoodFirms’ latest survey, it’s one of the most popular software development methodologies adopted by 61.50% of organizations. Why? According to the 16th Annual State of Agile report, 52% of businesses use it to accelerate time to market; 31% say they do so to lower risks associated with adding new features (e.g., bugs, deficiencies, higher costs). Some of its principles have been embraced by other methodologies, such as Scrum and Feature Driven Development (more on these later in the article).
Agile is an iterative module that focuses on producing working software quickly, accommodating changes, and making users happy. It’s not about creating tons of documentation and following strict, inflexible procedures. How does it work? The development process is broken into small “challenges” (i.e., 1-4-week sprints) to complete. The developers identify a priority or an issue and work on it to fix it. The outcome? A working software application (i.e., minimum viable product) that’ll be improved at each iteration.
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Recently chosen even by the Department of Defense (DOD) among all the other software development methodologies to keep up with new threats, Agile is perfect for:
Did you know that teams that choose to fully embrace Scrum as their sole software development methodology have 250% higher work quality compared to those utilizing only part of the Scrum process (i.e., hybrid method)?
Built on the Agile principles, and highly flexible, each sprint is worked on by a focused and self-organized development team guided by the Scrum master. The client is represented by a product owner who in charge of translating requirements into user stories (i.e., a brief description of a feature from the client’s point of view).
Imagine that a client asked you to create a restaurant table booking application to help him get more customers, but he doesn’t know what he wants. The client throws a few ideas at you and says: “Let’s see how it works and go from there once I have seen the first working software.” In other words, do something, I’ll test it and then I’ll ask you to change it again. This is a good example of a project where the Scrum approach would work. And there are more:
Want to reduce waste (e.g., time and resources) and enhance efficiency? This might be one of the software development methodologies for you. Based on the Agile philosophy, and on the Japanese car manufacturing Toyota’s principles, Lean gets rid of all non-productive tasks. In such a manner, developers can focus on boosting the quality of their work and identify bottlenecks.
Lean has a very short development iteration (1-2 weeks). Once a minimum viable product is produced, it’s improved based on customer feedback and market trends.
Users are engaged at every phase of the process, and team members work in small groups to enhance interaction. Communication among teams is emphasized and viewed as a gesture of mutual respect, like in Japanese society.
Let’s go back to our beloved table booking application example. This time the client requesting it just opened a taco bar in a small village. As it’s the only Mexican eatery for miles, the owner has been immediately overwhelmed by bookings. He needs some form of automation. However, like many new businesses, he’s cash-strapped, and can only afford something basic and cheap, but he needs it fast.
This is an example where the Lean process could work just fine, as it’s great for:
This approach is similar to Scrum, but with nearly no meetings and a greater focus on function. FDD is also one of those software development methodologies based on Agile principles. Development activities are broken down into a list of features. Each feature is built through an iterative process lasting no more than two weeks.
Has your table-booking application has become so successful that a big corporation wants you to develop a luxury, features-rich version to implement on all their sites worldwide? FDD may be the best candidate among all the software development methodologies we’ve listed. And it can also be useful for:
One of the most traditional and straightforward software development methodologies, it’s still used by 9.6% of organizations surveyed by GoodFirms. It’s a rigid, linear model — the opposite of Agile — and based on sequential phases. Each step has to be completed in the right order before starting the next one. The length of the development time varies from project to project.
Want to go back to add a feature or modify something? Too bad, you can’t, there’s no way back. This is why documentation, timeline, resources, and budget must be determined before starting the project. Working with Waterfall is a bit like working in a military base: everything is very organized, and the routine is dictated by strict rules.
Imagine for a moment that your boss wants to add two simple features to the table-booking application you created for a client a few months ago. The customer has provided an accurate explanation of their requirements. Would this be the right candidate for the Waterfall methodology? Yup, just like in the case of:
According to Barracuda, 73% of organizations were victims of a ransomware attack in 2022. To make things worse, Veeam discovered that the average downtime caused by such attacks is of 136 hours. That’s downright scary. Knowing this, security needs to be considered of the utmost importance for software developers.
Among all the software development methodologies in our list, SecDevOps is the one explicitly putting security first in every step of the development life cycle, from start to finish. It’s an augmentation of DevOps (already embraced by 45% of the teams that participated in Logz.io DevOps Pulse 2023).
Sometimes confused with this similar but slightly different twin DevSecOps, SecDevOps get the security, development, and operations teams working together in perfect harmony. The result? Secure, reliable, and high-quality products. Regular security checks are integrated at each step of the process. Critical flaws are identified, prioritized, and addressed on the go.
The correct answer? In virtually all medium and large projects. Like all the others on our list, SecDevOps can be applied together with any software development methodology you choose to enhance security and collaboration. Even in the case of our table booking application example? That’s elementary, Watson!
Also mentioned in the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)’s Secure Software Development Framework (SSDF), Spiral is an effective risk-driven approach based on a mix of Agile and Waterfall practices. It’s visually represented in a swirling, twisting spiral-like design (hence the name). Focusing on iteration and risk detection, each spiral corresponds to a step of the software development process, where prototypes are built and gradually refined. This enables your team to identify issues early and manage unanticipated risks.
Imagine that a new potential customer approached you about the booking app you built for the local restaurant. This time it isn’t another mom-and-pop business; rather, a restaurant chain with hundreds of locations all over the country. Their requirements are different, and they don’t mind splashing out cash on countless new features.
Yes, it’ll probably take time and a lot of work but, if you get it right, it may translate into a lifetime contract and big bucks. Wouldn’t it be the perfect chance to give Spiral a try? When can you also use it?
The key word here with RAD is quick. Specifically designed for speed, each iteration of this software development methodology produces a prototype that is released to the customers for final testing. Once the feedback is collected, your team re-works the prototype. The same steps are followed until the released product fulfills all of your customer’s requirements and expectations.
But wait, has your client changed his mind about a feature or wants to add something else to it? No problem. You can squeeze it in in the next iteration. He’ll be delighted, and you won’t release something he isn’t comfortable with.
Let’s look at the table booking application example again. After the latest MOVEit data breach affected thousands of well-known firms globally, your customers want a more secure app. You, therefore, add a layer of protection to the web application by ensuring that even those pages that aren’t transmitting highly sensitive data (e.g., credit card numbers) are encrypted using a transport layer security (TLS) protocol (formerly SSL, or secure sockets layer) and a strong hashing algorithm.
The RAD method will let you implement this change in no time. What else can it help you with?
OK, now that you have a complete pool of software development methodologies candidates, why should you bother changing the way your teams are working? There are several jolly good reasons. Let’s explore the four most important ones.
Yes, why shouldn’t software development teams just follow their guts or the same old routine instead of implementing something new that may take too long to learn, and restrict their autonomy and creativity?
So, there you have it. All you have to do is pick your favorite framework, give some structure to your tasks, and create superior, secure codes while reducing the overall development costs. Boom! You’re on the right track to generate outstanding products that’ll supersize your sales.
Using the right software development methodology is critical to the success of every software project. Because, as we’ve just learned, one size doesn’t fit all. Each methodology has its own strengths and weaknesses, and it can be more or less effective depending on the situation.
Large projects may benefit from implementing the Agile or Feature Driven Development methodology. Those requiring predictability, fewer adjustments, and a stable process may succeed following the more traditional Waterfall method.
Did you like different aspects of multiple software development methodologies but can’t land on just one to use? That’s alright. You can always take the hybrid approach: pick what you like from what you’ve just discovered, mix them together, et voila’ — you now have your very own software development process. As long as it’s repeatable and structured, it’ll work. Just be sure to integrate security throughout your process to avoid security-related headaches down the line.
Wait! Before you go, don’t forget that to develop secure and high-quality products, you need to:
Only then will your organization be ready to crank out more secure and successful software than ever.