A careful planning stage marks the start of every good software creation. The IT scene is demanding in terms of quality with the booming of the global economy and technological advancement. Many development companies and teams are hustling every day to have their firm foothold in the market. So knowing what to do, which method to apply, how to properly manage a software development project is crucial. Software engineering is a broad term, but it can still be understood if we look more closely at how it’s done by applying the suitable software development process models, which are the focal point of this article.
1. Software engineering overview
Software engineering is a branch of engineering concerned with creating software products based on scientific principles, methodologies and procedures. The final results are expected to be both reliable and stable and.
A process selection starts a software development, it includes certain phases with several other activities. These activities can be divided into smaller steps to create an efficient framework for complete product delivery. There are work models designed for a variety of projects, all aiming to the quality delivery of work. Other types of software development process models include Waterfall, Iterative and Incremental development, Spiral development, Rapid Application Development, to name a few.
2. Examples of software development process models and how to choose the right one
The key to structuring the work for a successful project is to adopt and adapt a suitable procedure. Many software development process models have been successfully implemented in the past. We can readily determine which is better for the job based on the nature of every project.
2.1. Waterfall Model
The Waterfall model is known as one of the first methods for developing software. The process entails going through the linear development stages in the following order: Analysis, design, development, testing, deployment, and maintenance, as the name implies. Every step has well-defined tasks and milestones.
The Waterfall model is sequentially linear, which means every stage is final and there’s no way for any reconfiguration until the maintenance part. This characteristic makes this model more costly and time-consuming than others. If requirements are complex then it’s not an ideal choice for the development process.
Despite having many weaknesses, this model is still helpful for small, one-time projects with few requirements and short timelines. The team must ensure all needs are adequately addressed. Nonetheless, IT teams nowadays favor more agile models to maximize flexibility, communication and improvements.
The V-model, also known as the Validation and Verification model, adds early test planning to the Waterfall approach. Instead of advancing down the software development phases linearly, the V-Model pivots and begins to ascend upward to form a “V” shape in the coding phases. Each of them has a dedicated testing activity, allowing the development team to identify bugs timely. However, this is still not a simple matter as there isn’t a clear troubleshooting procedure.
Despite still being linear and hard to configure adaptively, the V-Model has a greater chance of success than the Waterfall model thanks to the early testing phase. It suits short projects with clear intentions because advancement can only be made at each stage’s completion, weighing heavily on time and money.
2.3. Spiral Model
The Spiral Model focuses on risk assessment. As a result, any software development team that intends to use this model must have the required knowledge and skills in the corresponding area. Planning, risk analysis, engineering, and assessment are the four main steps of this model. The number of spiral loops is determined by the project and the project manager’s choice.
It incorporates elements of both the Waterfall and Prototyping models by emphasizing design, including prototyping (during the engineering phase), and follows phases similar to those in the Waterfall model.
Developers can make adjustments and add new features while minimizing risks via continuous and recurring development. Furthermore, development is systematic, resulting in a more efficient process.
The customer can review each stage of this cycle, given the process is not hindered by the sometimes lack of mutual understanding technical-wise. However, the engineering phase is up to the engineers only. Because the number of loops or iterations may vary, there are risks of budget excess delayed deadlines. The final product can cost much time and money, and reusing work is rendered impossible because this model is highly customized for each client.
2.4. Iterative/Incremental model
Like many other software development models, the Iterative (and Incremental) model was developed to eliminate some of the shortcomings of the Waterfall model. Unlike the Waterfall model which begins with planning and ends with deployment. This model includes repeated cycles throughout the process. These repeated cycles are iterative (repeated) and incremental (occurring in short periods of time).
Like many other software development methods, the Iterative and Incremental methodology was created to address some of the issues of the Waterfall model. Instead of starting with planning and ending with the deployment phase, this model incorporates recurrent cycles. Iterative (repeated) and incremental (occurring in short periods) are the terms used to describe these cycles.
Each cycle of the software development process begins with a small set of requirements, and subsequent cycles are followed by new ones. Because the iterative nature of this paradigm allows modifications in the process, the software can continue to expand and grow as experience is gathered along the way.
Because all requirements are not outlined at the onset of the project, and many changes are made through the process, work can begin quickly. However, resources are prone to deplete soon as the process is frequently repeated, not to mention management becomes more complex.
Work might begin in earnest because not all requirements are defined at the start of the project and many adjustments are made throughout the process. However, as phases are repeated frequently, resources may be quickly depleted, and management becomes more difficult. Additionally, the defined procedure results in inflexibility at times and it can’t handle projects with hard-to-predict budget and timeframe well enough.
2.5. RAD model
The Rapid Application Development (or RAD) model is based on prototyping and iterative models with less to no specific planning. RAD focuses on the development and the prototype, in contrast to the Waterfall model, which stresses careful considerations. The RAD model means working on continuously evolving requirements and learning from experience as the project progresses.
RAD places a strong emphasis on prototyping work as an alternative to design standards. This indicates that RAD performs well in situations where the user interface is more important than non-GUI programs.The RAD model includes agile methods and spiral models, and can be summed up with the following phases:
- Business modeling: The information flow is managed between different business roles.
- Data modeling: Information collected from business modeling is used to define required data objects
- Process modeling: Data objects are converted to establish the business information flow for specific business goals
- Application generation: The system is created and coding is handled by using automation tools, transforming the concept, process and sorted information into an actual output. This output is called a prototype as it’s still under development
- Testing and turnover: The overall testing time is reduced in the RAD model as the prototypes are independently tested during every cycle.
2.6. Agile methodology
Agile is a methodology based on the twelve principles defined in the Agile Manifesto. Thus, it is a concept rather than a set of strict protocols.
Agile was developed to produce better software more effectively than other methodologies through cooperation, communication, and constant change.
There are several Agile software development models. These models favor teamwork, cross-role collaboration, iterative development, early customer feedback. Testing, feedback and making the right adjustments are all important factors in helping the teams create the best software.
The Scrum model is the most widely used Agile framework. Its software development iterations are referred to as “sprints.” Teams will analyze prior sprints during these weeks, implement new features, and plan the next sprints. After the sprint’s activities have been planned out, no changes are permitted. This process will take place until all features have been added and the project is considered ready for release.
Increased collaboration between departments, the organization and the clients reduces the guesswork and errors that often result from the lack of communication, thus increasing the project’s success. One thing that would be affected is the main deadline for clients having many requests for functionality, however.
Kanban is a well-known framework for agile and DevOps software development. It necessitates real-time capacity communication and complete work openness. On a Kanban board, work items are visually depicted, allowing team members to see the status of each piece of work at any moment.
The projects and their information, including project owners and progress status, are visibly outlined on a Kanban board with sticky notes. This representation allows the team to focus their efforts on the most critical feature currently under development. The board also let them know which feature needs perfecting in the future.
Although posting sticky notes on a whiteboard motivates the team to concentrate on the critical task, it is not an optimal tool for managing timelines. As a result, long-term project planning is extremely challenging. This issue can be more visible if modifications are needed frequently.
Making software has never been a walk in the park. The sheer amount of workload can even make seasoned developers go off-track and mishandle their tasks at times. Fortunately, the experience accumulated throughout the year between professionals has led to many software development process models that anyone could benefit from or make reference to carry our projects more smoothly.