Software development is a complex process that involves various phases, ranging from planning and design to implementation and testing. In this article, we’ll explore key software development methodologies, their benefits, drawbacks, and when they are ideal to use.


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Understanding software development methodologies

Software development methodologies are structured approaches to managing and creating software projects. These methods provide a set of guidelines and techniques for all phases of the software development life cycle (SDLC). They are intended to improve the overall quality, efficiency, and productivity of the software development project.

There are several software development methodologies available, each with its own set of advantages and disadvantages. Some of the most popular methodologies include Agile, Waterfall, Scrum, and DevOps. Each methodology has its unique characteristics and is suitable for different types of projects.

The importance of choosing the right methodology

Selecting the right methodology for a software development project is a crucial decision that can have a significant impact on its success. Failing to choose the right approach can lead to cost overruns, missed deadlines, and poor-quality software.

It’s essential to consider the project's size, complexity, and scope, as well as the team's skills and experience, budget, and timeline. 

Key factors to consider when selecting a methodology

Considers these factors when selecting a software development methodology: 

  • Project size, complexity, and scope: For smaller projects with well-defined requirements, a Waterfall methodology may be suitable. However, for larger and more complex projects, Agile or Scrum methodologies may be a better fit.
  • Team skill set and experience: If the team has experience working with a particular methodology, it may be more efficient to continue using it. However, if the team is not familiar with any particular methodology, it may be beneficial to choose one that is easier to learn and implement.
  • Project budget and timeline: Some methodologies may be more expensive than others, and some may take longer to implement. Choose a methodology that fits within the project's budget and timeline while still meeting its needs and requirements.

Waterfall methodology

The Waterfall Model, also known as the traditional approach, is a linear and sequential approach to software development. In this model, each phase of the Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC) must be completed before proceeding to the next phase. These phases are requirements gathering, design, implementation, testing, and maintenance. 

Overview and history of Waterfall

First introduced in 1970 by Winston W. Royce in his paper titled "Managing the Development of Large Software Systems," the name "waterfall" originates from the software development process's sequential flow, where the output of each phase becomes the input for the next. This approach gained popularity in the early days of software development due to its ease of use and simplicity. 

Initially, this model was used in projects where the requirements were well-defined and the technology was stable. The model's sequential nature made it easy to manage and understand the project's progress. However, as software development evolved, the limitations of the Waterfall Model became apparent.


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Pros and cons of Waterfall

The Waterfall model's key advantages include its simplicity, predictability, and fixed project scope and budget. It’s easy to understand and manage project resources, especially ideal for large, complex projects. 

However, this model's inflexibility to changes, lack of adaptive approach, long development cycles, and difficulty identifying and addressing mistakes earlier during the process are significant drawbacks. The sequential nature of the model makes it difficult to make changes once a phase is completed. This can lead to delays and increased costs if changes are required later in the project.

When to use Waterfall methodology

The Waterfall methodology is ideal for well-defined projects with clear, predictable outcomes. It works best when all the project requirements are understood and don’t fluctuate, and there’s no technological ambiguity. The process is also suitable for projects with fixed budgets and timelines.

Agile methodology

Overview and history of Agile

Emerging in the early 2000s as a response to some of the challenges of the Waterfall model, Agile methodology is based on the Agile Manifesto, emphasizing delivering working software, welcoming changes, frequent feedback, and close collaboration between the development team and the customer. It is a flexible, iterative, and incremental approach to software development, emphasizing customer satisfaction, teamwork, and continuous improvement.

Pros and cons of Agile

The flexibility of the Agile methodology allows for changes to be made throughout the development process, ensuring that the final product meets the needs of the customer. The adaptability to changes is also a significant advantage, as it allows for the project to evolve over time, resulting in a better end product.

Another key advantage is the faster feedback cycles. This translates into a more iterative approach to development, with regular feedback from the customer and the team, so that the project is on track and meets the desired outcomes. In addition, it allows for any issues to be identified and addressed quickly, reducing the risk of delays or problems later in the development process.

However, there are also some significant drawbacks to Agile methodology. Planning can be challenging, as the iterative nature of the methodology means that it can be difficult to predict exactly when the project will be completed. Inexperienced developers may also struggle with the flexibility of the approach, as it requires a high degree of collaboration and communication. There is also a higher risk of scope creep. As changes can be made throughout the development process, there is a risk that the project will expand beyond its original scope, resulting in delays and additional costs.

Popular Agile frameworks


Scrum is an iterative, flexible, and collaborative Agile framework for software project management. It emphasizes Daily Stand-up meetings, time-bound sprints, constant feedback, and team self-management. This framework is particularly popular in the software development industry, as it allows for a high degree of collaboration and communication between the development team and the customer.


Kanban is a visual process management tool that allows teams to visualize work, limit work-in-progress, and focus on delivering small units of work continuously. It emphasizes just-in-time delivery, flow, and continuous improvement. This framework is particularly useful for projects that require a high degree of flexibility and adaptability, as changes can be made quickly and easily.

Extreme Programming (XP)

Extreme Programming (XP) is an Agile software development methodology that boasts flexibility, customer satisfaction, and high quality. It emphasizes frequent releases, continuous delivery, test-driven development, code review, and pair programming. This framework works well with projects that require a high degree of collaboration and communication between the development team and the customer, as it allows for a high degree of feedback and iteration throughout the entire development process.


The selection of the right software development methodology depends on several factors, including project type, size, complexity, budget, and timeline. While the Waterfall model is suitable for well-defined projects, the Agile methodology is ideal for projects with changing requirements. Scrum, Kanban, and Extreme Programming are popular Agile frameworks that provide flexibility, responsiveness, and high-quality product delivery. By selecting the right methodology, software development projects can achieve success more efficiently, saving time and effort in the process.

Navigate the complex world of software development methodologies with confidence using Wrike's robust project management features. Experience a Wrike free trial and streamline every aspect of your software development projects.


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Note: This article was created with the assistance of an AI engine. It has been reviewed and revised by our team of experts to ensure accuracy and quality.

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