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Which Application Development Methodology You Should Choose in 2023

The app development process can be quite overwhelming at the start due to the wide choice of application development options. That’s why before getting down to coding, the software development team has to organize the workflow and determine the procedures and development steps. It’s easy to do when opting for one of the multiple software development methodologies.

Each methodology rests on different software development principles and, therefore, they are appropriate for different development tasks. Opting for the right methodology can significantly alleviate software developers’ work and have a positive impact on the developed solution’s performance on the market.

In this article, we’ll have a look at the best approaches and practices in software development and review the most popular and effective app development methodologies.

What Is the Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC)?

Before getting to application development methodologies, it’s also important to learn more about the Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC). SDLC is no less important for a smooth software development process as it determines the steps for any kind of app-building project.

Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC) is a universal process software developers closely keep up to deliver effective and easy-to-update applications. It includes a detailed plan of how software developers should build and maintain the requested product. Moreover, this plan often includes the product improvement methodology. This means that the built solution won’t get obsolete any time soon as it’s continuously improved and modified according to the business and end-user needs.

The SDLC’s main steps include:

    • Requirements analysis and planning – at this stage business analysts and the client elaborate on the project’s requirements and come up with a development plan with its budget, deadlines, milestones, risks, etc.
    • App design and development – this stage is about product prototyping and UI/UX design. Once the prototype is approved by the client, software developers start the product development process.
    • Product testing – at this stage, the QA team conducts various types of testing to make sure the software product is bug free and ready for the release.
    • App implementation and maintenance – the implementation phase involves the preparation of the product for release to the market. The maintenance stage is fulfilled after the final product presentation and ensures that the developed solution is relevant and meets all the client and their customer requirements.
    • Release stage – publication of the application to the App Stores.

The stages in the SDLC model may vary, however, the main principles remain unchanged. Find out in more detail about the SDLC process and the main roles and responsibilities in Software Development Cycle the IT specialists hold in this cycle.

Application Development Methodologies to Choose From

There is a great variety of methodologies that can be used for application development. Each of them introduces certain requirements for the development process – some provide much flexibility and ensure quick time-to-market while others place great emphasis on documentation, explicit product criteria, thorough testing before product release, and many others.

As a result, methodologies have a great impact on how the budget is allocated throughout the project, how quickly the product will appear on the market, how easy it’ll be to introduce changes to the initial development plan, etc.

Let’s have a look at the most widely used development methodologies used for building various kinds of software.

1. Agile

The Agile methodology comprises several short cycles (2-3 weeks each) thus ensuring risk minimization. After the completion of each cycle, the app development team reports the results to the client and if needed do the changes upon customer request. Thus, allowing the client to have full control of the development process. Any app development lifecycle consists of the following stages:

It takes more than one cycle to build a fully-fledged product, but each iteration shows part of the functionality that can be tested and changed. After each cycle, the development team summarizes the results and client feedback to make the necessary adjustments to the development plan.

Agile Advantages

  • More thorough planning. It may be difficult to plan the entire development process at the beginning. With the Agile methodology, you can break the app development process into stages and prepare a plan for each step separately. Bug fixing takes place after each stage of the implemented functionality, thus saving your time and resources.
  • Quick changes. Since the development process is divided into sprints it is easy and convenient to make the changes in the app. When the project is almost at the final stage Agile approach minimizes the risk of some severe bugs to occur.
  • Always in touch with the client. If there is something in the app the client would like to change at any stage, it can be easily done without disrupting the development processes. The developers are always in touch with a client, providing the results when each sprint is finished.

Currently, Agile is one of the most popular software development methodologies. Find out more about Agile in our Ultimate Guide to Agile Software Development Methodology.

2. Scrum

Scrum is a part of the Agile methodology. It is way more prescriptive in nature and requires certain components:

Scrum is quite rigid in expecting team commitment, with the Scrum master being solely responsible for ensuring Scrum is properly understood and implemented.

The core principles of Scrum are division and optimization. Everything that can be split into smaller parts should be divided. The developers should cut down their work into small pieces, distribute them among team members, and do one piece of work at a time. Besides that, Scrum stipulates that the team should improve the process all the time by asking for customer feedback.

Scrum Advantages

  • Removed ambiguities. The Scrum framework itself is simple. The rules, artifacts, events, and roles are easy to understand. Due to its semi-prescriptive approach, Scrum can help remove the ambiguities in the development process, while providing enough space for individuality for development teams.
  • Efficient workflow. The organization of complex tasks into manageable pieces makes it a good fit for large-scale projects. The clear demarcation of responsibilities and scheduled activities helps to ensure that there is transparency and shared control of the development process. Quick releases keep the team motivated and customers satisfied since they can see progress in a short time.

3. Kanban

Kanban emphasizes continuous delivery while not overburdening the development team. Like Scrum, Kanban is designed to help application development teams work together more efficiently.

Work items are visualized to give the development team a view of progress and processes, from start to finish – usually via a Kanban board. By providing a well-defined workflow process, Kanban helps to boost operational efficiency and deliver high-quality results. It enables project managers to identify and quickly resolve the bottlenecks in the development process.

Kanban Advantages

  • Planning flexibility. The development team is only focused on the work that is underway. When the team finishes the task they start a new one from the top of the backlog. The client is free to change priorities in the backlog without disrupting the team, as any changes outside the current tasks do not affect the team. As long as the client keeps the most important tasks on top of the backlog, the development team will keep delivering maximum value to the client.
  • Improved efficiency. Throwing extra resources at a problem is a possible solution when there is no tight budget limit, but Kanban lets you do more with what you already have. Visualizing the development process will highlight areas of inefficiency very quickly. Once the team has identified the problem, they can start dealing with it. Bottlenecks, stalled tasks, and too much work in progress are clearly visible on the Kanban board.
  • Less team burden. Traditional management methodologies rely on planning upfront and pushing the work onto the app development team. It results in teams struggling with more work than they can accomplish. Kanban suggests the implementation of a pull system – developers pull tasks into the workflow only when they can do so.

4. Waterfall

Waterfall values solid planning. It is a linear and sequential app development methodology in which each project task follows after the previous one is completed.

Waterfall projects are accomplished in a single and very long cycle. Project managers are responsible for thoroughly planning project execution and running the project in a strict sequence based on the requirements specifications. In cases of failed scenarios, the development teams have to repeat all stages, from design to implementation.

All the requirements are defined at the beginning of the project and each phase is completed before moving toward the next stage. Project managers track the progress and make sure there is no overlapping in the stages.

Waterfall Advantages

  • Clear structure. When compared with other methodologies, Waterfall focuses mostly on a clear, defined set of steps. Even before the development process starts, the design is hammered out in detail which makes the needs and the outcome clear to everyone on the team.
  • Easy to manage and control. Each stage has its reliability and procedures as well as specific deliverables and review processes. Due to the clarity of all the stages, Waterfall is easy to manage. All the tasks can be arranged easily by following the hierarchy.
  • QA tests. Test scenarios are already defined in the functional specification of the project, which makes the testing process easier and more transparent. If a bug is detected during a certain stage, it is fixed instantly, and the problem gets resolved.

5. Lean Development

Lean software development concept focuses on efficient workflow optimization throughout the app-building project. For this, the development team estimates risks, identifies the bottlenecks, optimizes the resources, defines the waste, and establishes a plan on how to avoid them. In terms of Lean development, waste is anything that relates to unnecessary code, redundant features, unwanted bureaucratic processes, quality issues, and others. The process repeats at each level of the building process. This allows for quickly delivering the product with minimum risk and resource wastage.

Lean is a flexible framework and any product changes can be easily implemented during the development process. One of the main methodology principles is “fail fast” – when software developers quickly build a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) and release it to the market for fast customer feedback. Based on the feedback, the team elaborates the improvement strategy, removing redundant features and tasks and focusing on efficiencies.

Lean Development Advantages

  • Collaboration – much of the development work in Lean is done in the collaboration mode. The team has to discuss and estimate the processes together as well as share knowledge to ensure that they take the most practical and efficient steps on the project.
  • Continuous improvement – communication and steady customer feedback are the two aspects that allow software developers to quickly build and modify the developed product so that it perfectly matches the business and end-user requirements.
  • Optimization – Lean is a process-focused methodology. It requires the development team to consider each development step from the point of its efficiency and choose the most beneficial ones. As a result, they can build an application much faster while preserving valuable resources.

6. Spiral Methodology

The Spiral model is a complex methodology for big projects that involve much risk estimation. This methodology is based on the combination of the waterfall and iterative frameworks. It takes development iterations from the iterative model where each iteration loop includes a set of steps as in the waterfall model.