Top 12 Software Development Methodologies

As the digitalization of our world picks up pace, more and more businesses are focused on building scalable and feature-rich software that can address challenges of their clients as well as within their organization. In case you are interested in developing a solution that will transform your business, this article will be beneficial to you.

More and more different software development methodologies are introduced within the tech industry. In most cases, all of those were first presented during the past decades, when a particular case required the use of a new development model that can fully meet the project’s characteristics, requirements, and goals. And, all the innovative approaches used were to make the development more productive and boost the desired results.

By the end of 2023, IT spending on enterprise software is expected to reach over $755 billion worldwide. As a substantial amount of these costs are invested in the software development branch, developers are now looking for the most optimized and effective software creation methods.

Information technology spending on enterprise software worldwide, from 2009 to 2023

Different types of methodologies in software engineering can significantly eliminate the time, resources, and costs needed for project realization. However, due to the vast number of these methodologies currently existing, it becomes more and more challenging to pick up the best model for each specific case.

In this article, Intellectsoft’s best experts will analyze all the available different software development methodologies within the industry, as well as define their strong sides and possible drawbacks so you could come up with the most beneficial yet efficient software development models that ideally fit your project.

Let’s get it started!

What Is a Software Development Methodology?

To understand the types of development models existing, it’s important to learn the project development basics first.

The software development methodology refers to the development SDLC (software development life cycle) model, which is focused on organizing beneficial yet effective project development processes from the idea and planning to front-back & back-end development, testing, and software launching.

In other words, it is a so-called app development lifecycle that applies different formats, approaches, and techniques and helps to:

  • Effectively organize the workflow
  • Eliminate time for the project development
  • Reduce the costs needed to develop a software
  • Track the process of creation
  • Provide a set of norms for the effective communication
  • Improve the quality of the final product and more

Today, there are 12 standalone types of software development methodologies that introduce different models of project creating. However, each of those has its unique advantages and possible drawbacks, so it’s essential to analyze the core gist of your project as well as learn the pick up the most effective

As for 2021, one of the leading technological approaches practiced for software development is DevOps methodology, which is used in every third project (35.9%), says Statista.

But, in practice, it’s more efficient to review all the options available on the market and define which of the software development methodologies can fit your program best.

Types of Software Development Methodologies

As you already know, there are various types of different software engineering methodologies aimed at improving SDLC.

However, having reviewed them you can find out there’s no one outright winner – for each specific case, the strategy will be different based on the project’s characteristics, requirements, main goals, core features, and more.

Thus, the detailed comparison of software development methodologies can simplify the choice and help you to define the most winning option for each app development project individually.

Here is a list of software development methodologies we’ll look into:

List of software development methodologies, shown in honeycombs

1. Agile Software Development Methodology

The main focus of this methodology of software development is the project/product itself. That is why, it presupposes various constant alterations based on users’ and customers’ feedback, as well as internal changes related to the work of engineers.

The agile software development methodology is free of rigid frameworks on the one hand. While, on the other hand, the software development process is divided into short time boxes, thus offering real results and feedback truly fast.

Agile software development methodology pros and cons

Major Benefits

  • Problems are detected and fixed at the early stage
  • Higher flexibility to the plan and easier adapting to different project changes
  • Eliminated time of project deliverables
  • Enhanced communication with the clients, and their close engagement to each stage of the software development process
  • Top-notch quality of the final product
  • Mostly fits smaller, young companies that are more flexible and open up for the active communication

Possible Drawbacks

  • Lack of understanding the solution specifics before their implementation
  • The high risks of ignoring the project documentation and requirements
  • Insufficient predictability of the budgeting, marketing plans, sales, and more
  • Requires immediate responding to issues and feedback in real-time
  • Easy to get lost in details and be pulled off the project course

2. Waterfall Development Methodology

The absolute opposite of the previous approach, this methodology is strict and linear. A new stage can only be started if the previous one is completed. In other words, each phase gradually flows into the next one.

What is more, there is no going back to the previous stage. This approach is easy to understand as it presupposes a strict sequence of completed tasks. Waterfall software development methodology is often regarded as a classic representation of software development.

Waterfall software development methodology pros and cons

Major Benefits

  • The project plan is simple and straightforward, with all the goals, requirements, and important aspects defined before the software development process
  • All the processes are easy to understand
  • Enforced discipline and better keeping the timelines
  • All the steps of testing scenarios are planned in advance
  • No financial risks due to the high planning accuracy
  • The outcomes are easy to predict, as they meet all the requirements and criteria outlined in project documentation, so the companies get exactly what they were expected to develop

Possible Drawbacks

  • The planning stage can be too challenging to organize the entire process
  • Low flexibility and inability to implement the changes once the software development process is started
  • The immediate changes to the project can result in additional spendings that are usually enormously high
  • A longer time of delivery
  • Weak for long or ongoing projects

3. Extreme Programming Method

One of the software development approaches is suitable for unstable projects, as it implies engaging with the customer as much as possible. What is more, it presupposes considerable flexibility.

Extreme programming methodology is believed to boost the quality of software owing to its ability to adapt to dynamic changing demands. In addition to that, constant feedback and communication is the key to an efficient and happy team environment.

Extreme programming methodology pros and cons

Major Benefits

  • Significant customer involvement results in high-quality products
  • Stable final product due to the continuous software testing
  • Pair programming eliminates the errors that may occur during the software development process
  • High level of flexibility and the ability to immediately implement the changes
  • Code stays clear and comprehensive
  • No rush to keep the timelines – developers work at their own pace

Possible Drawbacks

  • Efficiency is much dependent on the people involved
  • Vague and unknown future results
  • Clients must always be engaged in the software development process
  • Comparatively large time and high costs investments
  • Is too challenging for the small teams, as they might not possess all the necessary skills and knowledge

4. Lean Development

Value for the client is the essential core element the whole approach revolves around. If something is worth it, it should be done immediately; if not, it should be removed.

The lean software development methodology is one of the software design methods which focuses a lot on loss reduction. That is why the whole project is examined significantly beforehand to eliminate any wasted time or money. As value is the core component, feedback plays a crucial role itself, so that the actions are taken fast.

Lean software development methodology pros ans cons

Major Benefits

  • Perfect for a low-budget project and rigid time limitations
  • The team is focused on delivering on-demand tasks
  • Provides fast deliverability by eliminating waste and useless processes
  • Is easily scalable – ideally fits for large projects, unlike most of the other software development methodologies
  • Cutting out tasks allows getting more time for the core processes and implementing the high-value features to the final product
  • Enhanced teamwork enables focusing on meaningful and impactful work with a greater sense of purpose

Possible Drawbacks

  • Success is much dependent on the working capacity of a team
  • Low experience and lack of expertise might not work if the team works independently
  • Cutting too many things can lead to a loss of project focus
  • Risks of the delays due to certain bottlenecks or low resource levels
  • Requires excellent documentation to ensure all the aspects are developed correctly

5. Prototyping Methodology

Based on the waterfall approach and having a significant focus on customer feedback. There are some initial requirements, developers provide samples, and only after customers evaluate the functionality of samples, the final development begins.

The gist of this software development methodology lies in the name itself – prototype methodology. In other words, before getting down to business, there will be painstaking research and prototyping to avoid unnecessary risks.

Prototyping methodology pros and cons

Major Benefits

  • The prototype model can become a great information source for UI/UX improvements
  • Enhances the system functionality by analyzing the actual look and feel of the system being developed
  • High involvement of clients and final consumers during the developing process
  • Easier and more effective detection of errors and issues
  • High flexibility of the app developing process, that enables adding the missing functions or redoing the existing ones
  • Reduced time and costs due to the early detection of the critical issues

Possible Drawbacks

  • Too much client involvement can affect the process by slowing it down
  • Possible budget increase, as the management cost may go beyond the money limit
  • Increased complexity system that can enlarge beyond the original plans
  • Developers can reuse the existing prototypes that don’t always meet the client expectations instead of creating the new product from a scratch
  • The risks of the development overdoing with too much effort, time, and costs invested

6. Dynamic Systems Development Method

There are two main focuses: a strict time frame and an assigned budget. The idea is to manage to provide successful and effective software within a particular time limit and not exceed costs. Users’ involvement is of high importance as well. The dynamic systems model presupposes continuous feedback to deliver maximum functionality within the agreed requirements.

Dynamic systems development method pros and cons

Major Benefits

  • Time-boxed yet predictable project deliverability
  • Developing processes are delivered at a standard level of quality, that can be improved through the analysis of documentation, software testing, and periodical reviewing of the outcomes
  • Great communication between developers and clients
  • Reaching the needed functionality as fast as possible
  • Producing enough design work upfront (EDUF) to get a more concrete idea of what product client needs
  • High control under each stage of the project development

Possible Drawbacks

  • Requires considerable costs for development
  • The approach will not fit and meet the needs of a small organization
  • Doesn’t stimulate the developer creativity
  • Projects are mainly focused on complying with the documentation and standards while can neglect some of the more sophisticated options available
  • Requires an experienced team of developers with deep expertise in both business and technical aspects

7. Feature Driven Development

Features are regarded as a sort of user feedback. Planning, designing, and building are all feature-based. This approach involves iterations to boost functionality and deal with varied complexities. Feature-driven development aims at organizing the work of a large number of teams within a big organization.

Feature-driven development methodology pros and cons

Major Benefits

  • Mostly fits large-scalable, long-term, and ongoing projects
  • Provides a detailed understanding of the project’s scope, major goals, and context
  • Breaks the feature sets into smaller chunks and regular iterative releases, thus reducing the risks of errors and enabling delivering the specific features in shorter time frames
  • Utilizes the pre-set standards to simplify the developing procedure
  • Enables any developer with appropriate experience and expertise to handle the tasks
  • Based on a user-centric approach, where the outcome depends on the user opinion

Possible Drawbacks

  • Cannot be applied by small organizations and for smaller projects
  • Requires several experienced developers to monitor the process
  • Difficult to guarantee a strict deadline
  • Doesn’t provide the written documentation for the clients, only the communication among the developers during the project launching cycle
  • Is more focused on individual code ownership instead of the shared team model

8. Rational Unified Process

The idea of this approach lies in having four stages of the developing process. ‘During each of the phases, all six core development disciplines take place – business modeling, requirements, analysis and design, implementation, testing, and deployment’, according to

The main focus of this software development methodology is to craft effective software of high quality without expanding the budget and missing the time frame.

Rational unified process pros and cons

Major Benefits

  • Provides reliable, accurate, and strict documentation
  • Eliminates the risks by taking into consideration the clients’ evolving needs
  • Requires less time for integration when completing the software development life cycle
  • The reuse of components allows reducing the time of project completion
  • This development model can be studied through the online pieces of training and tutorials available on the Internet
  • Incorporates the most effective practices of Waterfall by combining them into a more iterative process that is more flexible for changes

Possible Drawbacks

  • Requires an expertized yet well-trained developer for this methodology to ensure the project success
  • It May be too difficult to make the head or tail of the rational unified process model
  • This development model doesn’t allow to reuse of the pre-made components
  • Not effective for the big projects with multiple development systems, as it can cause more issues and confusion during the testing process
  • The delivery process may be too time-consuming for certain types of projects

9. Spiral Development Model

The main idea is to eliminate the risks at the early stage of the project. The developing procedure goes from smaller levels to the big ones gradually. This approach combines waterfall ideas with iterations.

Each stage involves setting goals and receiving feedback from a client. Moving from one phase to another in a spiral model implies completing and removing the risks before moving forward.

Spiral development model pros and cons

Major Benefits

  • Best fits mission-critical and long-term projects which require professional risk analysis and thorough control
  • The process of the estimation of the costs is pretty easy yet straightforward
  • Features the fast achievement of progress
  • Repeated development helps to eliminate the possibility of risks and effectively control the system quality
  • The specific functions or changes can be implemented at earlier and later stages
  • Leaves a lot of improvement opportunities taken from the customer feedback

Possible Drawbacks

  • Not suitable for small organizations and projects
  • The danger of failing to meet the agreed budget and time limit
  • Requires accurate following the spiral model project development protocol
  • Demands a strict risk assessment expertise
  • The correct risk analysis can be conducted by the expertise developers only

10. Joint Application Development

This approach implies significant interaction between users, designers, and developers. There are workshop sessions to facilitate and increase the development process. During the session, the following people are involved: a facilitator, end-users, developers, observers, mediators, and experts.

What is more, in joint application development there is a considerable focus on eliminating errors at the early stage, thus saving the expenses needed to correct the mistakes later on.

Joint application development methodology pros and cons

Major Benefits

  • Valuable information is achieved within a short period
  • Immediate elimination of errors and resolving the differences, which greatly boosts the software quality
  • Features accurate project requirements focused on improving the system quality
  • Reduces the time and costs needed for the project development
  • Enables close communication between the team members and client, which greatly speeds up the development process
  • Allows team members to push each other for faster yet high-quality deliverables

Possible Drawbacks

  • Can be quite a time and energy-consuming model when it comes to planning
  • Requires significant budget for the project launching
  • Needs highly experienced and expert professionals
  • Depending on the project size, it can be more difficult to align goals and maintain the overall project picture
  • The clients usually make a huge laundry list of demands with making them all “high-priority”

11. Scrum Development

Easy to understand and effective when it comes to achieving results. The working process is divided into sprints. All the assignments for each sprint are set beforehand and are then discussed after this period.

Thanks to this approach, it is easy to get a response to emerging problems early, and as a result, solve them immediately. Scrum software development methodology is by far the most flexible. For this reason, it easily deals with projects having changing requirements.

Scrum software development methodology pros and cons

Major Benefits

  • All the stages and processes are clear and transparent
  • Light control goes together with constant updating that keeps all of the team always on guard
  • Removing the errors and project issues becomes much easier
  • Implies high engagement of clients
  • Enables frequent updates of the progress, which are proposed on the regular meetings
  • Clients can trace the various project processes and measure the development performance

Possible Drawbacks

  • The costs and time needed can often be uncertain
  • No deadlines for the product delivery
  • Big projects cannot be managed with this approach
  • Only expert professionals that are constantly up to the tasks can be involved, with no beginners
  • The test team must conduct regression testing after each sprint, which is one of the most notable difficulties of this methodology

12. Rapid Application Development

It is clear from its name that the main goal of this approach is to achieve fast results. To do so it uses the assistance of other development methodologies. It focuses on fast prototype releases and iterations.

As a result, quick feedback is received, errors are eliminated and the desired results are reached. It is as flexible and adaptable as possible. The main focus is to adjust so that the software is crafted, functional and effective fast. Rapid application development methodology includes 5 stages: analysis and quick design, prototype cycles, testing, and implementation.

Rapid application development methodology pros and cons

Major Benefits

  • The client is encouraged to take fast reviews and constant feedback for the improvements
  • Enables easy change of the core functions when the software is in the testing phase
  • Minimizes the risks since the early stages of development
  • Reduces the time of development by setting the deadlines for the project completion
  • Is mainly focused on delivering the business problems important for the end-users
  • Applies the use of automated tools that allows creating the prototypes easier and much quicker

Possible Drawbacks

  • Not suitable for small projects
  • Requires highly expert developers and a strong collaboration between the teams
  • The stages are not strictly defined, which impacts the overall project structure
  • The development costs are comparatively high
  • All the requirements should be outlined before the development process starts

Why Should You Adhere to a Software Development Methodology?

Following concrete software development methodologies can significantly impact the quality of your final product, its usability, and the profits gained after the software release. Additionally, the most beneficial software methodology can impact the time and costs of the specific project development.

Having analyzed the detailed software development methodologies list, you can now have a more concrete idea of which models could fit your project best and deliver a high-quality yet feature-rich software product after implementation.

Whatever type of software methodology you’ll choose, you can always have a clear understanding of the project flow and provide the most effective updates in time.

How to Choose the Appropriate Software Engineering Methodology

As you can see, there are so many various enterprise software development methodologies, and it’s not very easy to choose between them. Each model has its own pros and cons that are important to take into account. Now, let’s take a look at a few very effective tips that will help you choose the right one between the variety of IT methodologies.

1. Evaluate Your Flexibility

In this particular case, flexibility refers to your ability to easily adapt to new requirements. Before deciding on your future software development methodology it is important to define the level of flexibility of your software requirements and specifications. For instance, web and app development can be very unpredictable with frequent requirements changes. In this case, Agile can suit perfectly. If your team values predictability and stability, Waterfall is the most suitable solution.

2. Define End-Users of Your Software

Knowing well your end-users as well as their expectations will help you pick the right methodology. It’s important to understand if the needs of your clients are fixed and consistent or if they vary a lot. If they are fixed then a non-iterative approach will be the best. A more collaborative approach will be better in case the needs of your end-users can fluctuate and they might require new features after the product launch.

3. Keep in Mind Project Size

An important characteristic such as project size and complexity can also determine the matching methodology. If you have an ambitious project that requires a lot of resources you can consider Agile methodology. In contrast, Waterfall will be suitable for smaller teams that require fewer people involved in the development process and can fully benefit from this option.

4. Determine Software Development Time Frame

Timeline also plays a paramount role while choosing the software development methodology. For example, if you have a long-term project you have to ensure that the chosen methodology can account for the potential staff turnover and infrastructure changes that should be accommodated. In case no strict deadline is determined, Waterfall can be one of the suitable options. If you want to work through sprints with defined deadlines, Agile or any other iterative-based approach can be perfect.

5. Take Into Account Team Location

Last but not least, is the importance of your software design and development team location, especially when you work with an outsourced team. In this case, the Waterfall methodology will be one of the best to achieve smooth process coordination and coherence but you don’t have to limit yourself. On the contrary, Agile methodology requires constant meetings and discussions which won’t be convenient with remote developers and will be more suitable if you have local engineers.

How We Work at Intellectsoft?

Intellectsoft has years of experience delivering software solutions to clients from all over the world. We have established our own Software Development Life Cycle that we follow with our clients to ensure clear expectations and top-notch results.  There are 7 main phases that we stick to, and it starts with project planning. Our team conducts the initial planning that includes budget projections, creating a schedule with KPIs and milestones, and defining team composition as well as the scope of each development phase.

Once the first stage is over, Intellectsoft’s business analysts analyze all project requirements and write software specifications to meet business objectives and performance requirements. After, UI/UX professionals work on software mockups while our solutions architect designs the solution infrastructure.

The development phase is led by a project manager throughout all development stages. It’s worth noting that Intellectsoft uses Scrum methodology in most cases.

We put together and deploy a development team with a dedicated project manager that works with the client in accordance with the project plan throughout all development phases. Development is performed in agile sprints according to the Scrum methodology. Our experts prefer this software application development methodology as it is easy to understand and it helps to achieve tangible and accurate results. No matter what issue appears in the middle of the development process, we are able to detect and address the problem effectively thanks to the Scrum development method. Our team also appreciates its flexibility, clarity, and transparency.

When the development phase is over, our QA team conducts thorough software testing to eliminate errors and ensure the highest quality level. Only when it’s done, we can tackle software deployment so the solution is available to end users. In addition, Intellectsoft is committed to building long-lasting partnerships, therefore, we offer software maintenance even if a client might require some new features or changes.

Consider Intellectsoft Youк Trusted Software Development Partner

At Intellectsoft, we know how important it is to plan each stage of the project development to achieve the best product quality. That’s why our team of developers provides an individual approach to each client’s idea and dedicates lots of time to thinking over the slightest details that can improve the overall product performance.

Intellectsoft is a software development and IT consulting company that has already been in the software development market and is ready to implement the best practices and experiences for our client’s growth.

We’ve got deep expertise in launching projects within different industries and are now ready to provide a variety of software development services for delivering the best outcomes for each of our clients!

Our team collaborated with dozens of renowned companies all over the world as well as Fortune 500 businesses. Check out our most prominent client cases to see what software solutions we built as a response to our customer’s business challenges.

Do you already have the concept we can start working with? Don’t hesitate to share your ideas with us as we are ready to assist you in your digitalization journey.

Contact our team today to get a professional consultation regarding your project and discuss what benefits you can gain from day one!

Final Thoughts

As you can see, there are different types of software development methodologies, with each of those having its unique characteristics, valuable benefits, and possible drawbacks to be aware of.

Having learned the most important qualities of the development methods available on the software market today can not only eliminate the time, effort, and resources needed to get the project completed but also can radically improve the overall process of app creation.

Moreover, knowing the software methodologies list in detail can provide you with a better understanding of which of the models can be the most winning option for each specific software development project of yours!


What software engineering methodology is the best? 

There exist a variety of software development methodologies. Each of them has its own advantages as well as drawbacks that it’s important to consider before making the final decision. It’s crucial to understand that the choice of methodology depends on multiple factors such as project size, requirements, budget, location, time frames, complexity, etc. All these details will define which of the software engineering methodologies you should pick.

How many software engineering methodologies exist?

There are 12 most widely used software engineering methodologies that exist now. Potentially, in the future new methodologies will appear and they will be even more convenient for businesses to apply.

What are the most common software engineering methodologies? 

At this moment, the most popular methodologies include Scrum, Agile, and Waterfall. However, the choice of the methodology depends on project details and other methodologies might fit your project much better and meet all your expectations.

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