Top 8 Software Development Models, Why and What

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Published: 05 Dec 2020


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Software development is a complicated industry and the dozens of software development models to choose from are only a small part of this. This is why it is worth looking into these aspects one at a time so that you can get a better sense of them and so that you can get a better grasp on what makes software development what it is.

Of course, since there are too many models to choose from, we are only going to focus on a few today. They should help you better understand why these models are necessary, as well as what is software development, as a whole.

What is Software Development Model?

Your chosen modeling option when coding is incredibly important in software development for a wide variety of reasons. To start with, a software development model or a Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC) model is a process that will dictate the direction and results achieved of a project from the outset. Once you start with one model, it cannot be changed for another.

Among the factors that go into the selection of the models are when you can conduct the testing, when the presentation can be done, which features would be available to show, and the like. Reliability, accuracy, ease of use, and level of technical difficulty will also be factors that you will need to keep in mind. These are just some of the points of consideration that you are going to want to keep in mind.

These are also why different companies often use different SW development models for different projects. The scale of the effort and the timelines will definitely be a factor, particularly when dealing with clients who demand instant results. When it comes to the level of skill, the models can change, as well since some SDLCs are easier to use than others.

Why Software Development Models Matter

With more than 50 models to choose from, each of them has a chance to either achieve your goal or derail your progress. Any programmer out there knows just how much time is consumed when a mistake occurs in a script and things can get even worse if you chose the wrong model of software design. Flexibility and user-friendliness can really impact a company’s bottom line, after all.

For example, if a product presentation is done only once the entire project is done, it can be difficult to convince customers that it is worth waiting for. Typically, only companies with a proven track record can command that kind of patience. For everyone else, a sample feature is always early into the coding process and not all SDLC is capable of offering this.

Just to bring the point about the importance of SDLCs home, you can basically think of them as roads or intersections that will guide the flow of your progress. Some roads are long while some roads are short. Some are meandering while some are straight. Some roads have tons of amenities and the like while others are empty for miles.

The only difference here is that trying to turn back might cost you a lot of money.

How to Choose Which Model to Use

Choose Which Model to Use

With all of that said, it’s now time to decide which software models you are going to use for your project and you will need to put in a lot of thought into this aspect. Among the factors that you really need to watch out for are:

· Timeframe – This is basically the amount of time you are allotted with regard to the various aspects of the project. How soon you should produce results, how much time you are given to complete the project, and whether or not you are able to ask for an extension.

· Conditions – The limitations, restrictions, compensation, and budget that go into the project, along with clauses with regard to the timeframe and required proof of progress.

· Project Size – How big the project is, how many people are involved, and what its role will be in any given enterprise.

· Employee Skill Level – How good the coders involved are and how many veteran members are involved or are placed in leadership positions.

· Project Scope – How many industries will be affected, how versatile the applications, and how scalable the impact will be.

· Purpose – The goal of the project, its features, its potential applications, and the specific industries in which it will be used.

· Programming Language – Which programming language will be used for the project and for which parts those languages will be used.

Those are the factors that go into your decision when you are choosing the software development model that you are going to use. That decision needs to be made carefully since you won’t be able to change it easily later on, especially if your progress has already reached a point where you will need to start from scratch if you want to make any significant changes.

8 Best Software Development Models

As already mentioned, there are officially 50 software development models that are currently recognized, including incremental and iterative development process models. Though, considering the fluid and changing nature of the industry, it only makes sense that there are those that have either yet to be recognized or are so specialized that they are only suitable for very specific projects.

In any case, just to simplify this section, we will only focus on eight examples of these models. These are not only among the most preferred options for a lot of coders and companies, but they are also some of the most user-friendly.

Agile Methodology – The most widely used software development model in the industry due to the fact that it is an incredibly dynamic and flexible project management process. Regardless of how many people are working on the project, it is easy for collaboration to be conducted simply because of how easy it is to adapt the changes brought about by the market or the customers.

Unlike many of the other models on this list, the agile methodology was actually born out of another model, which will be discussed in a bit. It was meant to be much more versatile and less prone to rigidity, thus allowing programmers to respond to shifting demands as needed.

Agile Methodology

Among the most significant aspects of this particular model is the Agile Manifesto, which contains the four foundational values, for a start. Those are basically the framework that makes the agile methodology what it is. On top of that, there are also the 12 key principles, which serve as the anchors that keep projects on the right path. You can see what these are with the following:

4 Foundational Value

· Individuals and interactions over processes and tools

· Working software over comprehensive documentation

· Customer collaboration over contract negotiation

· Responding to change over following a plan

12 Key Principles

· Customer satisfaction through early and continuous software delivery

· Accommodate changing requirements throughout the development process

· Frequent delivery of working software

· Collaboration between the business stakeholders and developers throughout the project

· Support, trust, and motivate the people involved

· Enable face-to-face interactions

· Working software is the primary measure of progress

· Agile processes to support a consistent development pace

· Attention to technical detail and design enhances agility

· Simplicity

· Self-organizing teams encourage great architectures, requirements, and designs

· Regular reflections on how to become more effective

Waterfall Model – One of the earliest software development models, the waterfall model is a good point of comparison of just how far coding has come. It is basically a cascade of phases where completion is required before moving on. This means that if you want to test a particular phase, all stages of software development first.

There are no overlaps when dealing with the waterfall model and everything is done in a linear manner. You can take a look at the following for an idea of how this model is supposed to go:

1. Requirement Analysis

2. System Design

3. Implementation

4. Testing

5. Deployment

6. Maintenance

V Model – This model works on the parallel development phase that involves Verification and Validation, which can then be illustrated on a diagram with the letter V. On one side is Verification that goes along with various other phases and Validation is on the other. This particular model is also marked by the phases themselves, which are the following, which are broken down based on their various categories:


· Business Requirement Analysis

· System Design

· Architectural Design

· Module Design

of the 

After following those, you will arrive at the Coding Phase, where the system modules will actually be coded. This is where the choice of the programming language will truly shine.


· Unit Testing

· Integration Testing

· System Testing

· Acceptance Testing

Incremental Model – As the name of this model implies, this is a development process where modules are broken down into numerous standalone units. You basically have a methodology where you are cycling through the four phases of requirements, design, coding, and testing to form one increment.


Each of those increments will then act as a part of each other, adding functions and features until you finally get the product that you need. This makes it more tedious than most other models, but it also provides more control.

RAD Model – The Rapid Application Development model or RAD model is an offshoot of the incremental model where you basically work on the components on an individual and separate basis. Once done, these will then be put together and assembled to create the working prototype. Think of it like you were building pieces of a jigsaw puzzle and then creating the finished product once all pieces are done.


As such, this particular model is perfect for when you are trying to create samples to show customers in a quick manner that they will then be able to comment on. What’s more, each component can be assigned to different teams for later assembly. This can be done by simply following the phases of the RAD Model, which are:

· Business modeling

· Data modeling

· Process modeling

· Application generation

· Testing and turnover

Iterative Model – Often confused with the incremental model of software development, this methodology involves first creating a simple foundation before building on it. As it does so, the level of complexity increases until the final product is achieved. It would be best to imagine this like you are building a skyscraper where the design becomes more intricate the higher you go.

Another way to look at this is as an overlapping 2D spiral where the lines regularly loop backward before moving forward. Each step is complete, analyzed, adjusted, and tested before moving on. As to what these steps are, you can take a look at the examples following processes:

· Planning & Requirements

· Analysis & Design

· Implementation

· Testing

· Evaluation

Spiral Model – A software development model geared more towards handling risks than anything else, the spiral model is one of the most essential methodologies in the business. This particular model can basically be viewed as an overhead spiral where you are looking at the phenomena from the top in the center of a box that is divided into four smaller boxes.


Each loop is a phase, the radius is the cost, and the rate of progression is illustrated by the angular dimensions. The division of the phases here can be broken down into the following four quadrants:

· Objectives determination and identify alternative solutions

· Identify and resolve Risks

· Develop the next version of the Product

· Review and plan for the Next Phase

Prototyping Model – A more specific model of software development, prototyping model is specifically intended to create a prototype in working condition, that can then be provided to the customers for feedback. It is a cyclical process where you start with a working sample, have it tested by the customer, get some feedback, which is then used to improve the prototype.

This is done until you get the final product that you want, but unlike with other models, this is highly dependent on what other people are saying. There is certainly something to be said about paying attention to insights that clients have to offer in these types of developments. However, there is a risk that you end up pleasing nobody when the final result is released.


Software development models are incredibly important in the business because they basically provide you with the ways and means to achieve your goal when working on a project. They give you clear directions, methods on how to achieve your target, and solutions when trying to fix problems.

With the examples of the models and methodologies provided above, you should be fairly equipped to tackle this issue head-on.

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