Software development methodologies:

types, selection criteria & stats

Software development methodologies:
 types, selection criteria & stats

April 16, 2024

Sequential methodologies

Sequential or plan-driven methodologies break up the software development cycle into consecutive, standalone phases. These models prioritize gathering detailed project requirements, planning the entire development process, and establishing deliverables for each phase before starting the development.




Analysis & design








Support & maintenance

Scheme title: Project phases in a sequential software delivery model

Advantages and limitations of sequential methodologies

  • A straightforward, easy-to-understand workflow simplifies project management
  • The sequential model facilitates project stages tracking for project sponsors
  • Stable project requirements allow developers to better focus on the project’s goals and allocate their efforts more efficiently
  • Clear project scope and predictable timeline, cost, and deliverables as a result of thorough planning and early definition of requirements
  • Detailed documentation makes tracking the project’s progress easier and simplifies software maintenance and further modernization
  • Extensive requirements gathering leads to a prolonged discovery phase
  • Business stakeholders are mainly involved at the beginning of the project, which can result in lower end-user satisfaction with the finished software after the launch
  • The inflexible step-by-step process contributes to lengthy project duration
  • Addressing evolving requirements is challenging since it entails going back to the initial stage of development and re-elaborating requirements

Types of sequential methodologies


The waterfall development methodology follows a linear workflow, progressing from top to bottom through several stages that focus on distinct goals. Once the development process starts, no extensions or alterations to the project scope are allowed, so all requirements must be elicited during the planning stage. Developers must complete each stage before moving to the next one, meaning the software is implemented as the finished product at the end of the project.

Suitable for:

  • Projects with well-defined, unchanging requirements and objectives
  • Projects where timeline and budget control is critical

Scheme title: Waterfall development model


The V-model is an extension of the Waterfall methodology that emphasizes testing in parallel with the development process. Each subsequent development phase can only start after testing for the previous stage, thus reducing the probability of defects and errors in the final product and ensuring high software quality. However, the focus on the testing activities can make the development time-consuming and costly.

Suitable for:

  • Projects that can use Waterfall but demand higher levels of quality and reliability
Developer’s life cycleTester’s life cycleBusiness req. specificationHigh level designLow level designSystem req. specificationAcceptance testingComponent testingUnit testingSystem integration testingCodingVerificationReview of the product development process to find whether the requirements are metValidationConfirmation that the software meets customer expectations post-development

Scheme title: Software development life cycle in the V-model

Rapid application development

RAD promotes short development cycles and rapid delivery of functional software. This model focuses on iterative app development, where the project is broken down into smaller modules developed in parallel by different teams. The RAD model implies gathering requirements through focus groups, prototyping and early user testing to get customer feedback and accommodate possible requirement changes before the development starts. It also emphasizes reusing software components across the system, adhering to strict upfront dependencies planning and precise project scheduling and coordinating, extensive requirements elaboration and software design efforts, as well as a team of highly experienced analysts and architects.

Suitable for:

  • Projects where requirements can be identified upfront
  • Systems that can be modularized
Develop module 1Team 1Elicit requirementsModularize requirementsTeam 2Develop module 2Integrate all the modulesTest the final
product & deliverDevelop module NTeam NAnalyzeDesignCodeTest

Scheme title: Process model for Rapid application development


The spiral model combines elements of sequential and iterative approaches, which makes modifying requirements easier than in the classic Waterfall model. The development team works on the four software development stages in cycles, or spirals, and improves the product each time. Each cycle can take up to several months and starts with identifying project goals and planning, followed by risk analysis and management, which reduces the likelihood of errors and issues. Then, programmers build software based on the requirements gathered during the previous iteration. The software is evaluated at the end of each cycle to ascertain its alignment with the defined requirements. The project stakeholders then decide whether to proceed to the next iteration or complete the project, thus predicting the number of iterations required to finish the project with the spiral model can be challenging, which leads to uncertainty in the project timeline and cost.

Suitable for:

  • Complex and large projects characterized by uncertainty or changing requirements
  • Projects where risk management is critical
Plan requirementConcept of operationConcept of requirementsDetailed designCodeIntegrationImplementTestDetermineobjectivesIdentify&resolverisksPlanthenextiterationDevelopment&testRiskanalysisPrototype(1-2-3)TestplanTestplanDraftsDevelopmentplanDevelopmentplanVerification&validationRequire-ments

Scheme title: Software development life cycle in the Spiral model


The incremental model breaks the development process into smaller, stand-alone parts, called increments. Each iteration can last up to several months, during which the team builds a particular feature set – a portion of the complete system’s functionality. End-users get access to a fully functional software subset with the implementation of the first increment while the development of further increments continues until the entire product is completed. With incremental development, potential issues can be detected early in the development process, minimizing the probability of costly errors at later stages. This model requires careful and strict increment planning to make it consistent and valuable to the end-users.

Suitable for:

  • Projects with a lengthy development schedule that focus on bringing value as early as possible
  • The product needs to enter the market quickly
  • When the system allows for easy modularity
Incremental modelBuild 1Design & developmentTestingImplementationRequirementsBuild 2Design & developmentTestingImplementationBuild nDesign & developmentTestingImplementation

Scheme title: Phases of the Incremental model


Scheme title: A, B, and C are modules of software products that are incrementally developed and delivered

Agile methodologies

Agile methodologies are characterized by a flexible software development life cycle, tightly integrated cross-functional teams, rapid iterations, continuous testing, and collaborative techniques.

Four values of the Agile mindset

Individuals & interactions
over processes and tools
Working software
over comprehensive documentation
Customer collaboration
over contract negotiation
Responding to change
over following a plan

12 principles of the Agile approach

Enabling customer satisfaction through the early delivery of software that provides tangible business value
Promptly addressing changing requirements, even late in the development stage
Facilitating frequent software delivery
Establishing close cooperation between the development team and end users
Including motivated specialists in project teams and creating a proper work environment
Setting up real-time communication within the project team
Considering working software as the primary measure of progress
Maintaining a sustainable development pace
Paying continuous attention to technical excellence and sleek design
Minimizing unnecessary work
Encouraging team self-organization
Promoting regular reviews and adjustments of the team’s work to improve effectiveness

12 principles of Agile

Advantages & limitations of Agile development methodologies

  • Short iterations enable the team to release software frequently, quickly delivering value to business users
  • If the project requirements change, the team can quickly adapt and deliver software in line with the new needs within a few iterations
  • Effective communication between the development team and business stakeholders ensures better alignment of the product with the business users’ expectations
  • With frequently changing requirements and many small sprints, assessing the project’s overall deadline can be challenging
  • Requires high level of discipline and engagement to avoid extensive communication overheads
  • Limited documentation can pose challenges to knowledge sharing or regulatory compliance

Types of Agile software development methodologies


In this iterative and incremental methodology, the software development process starts with brief planning for fixed-length iterations, known as sprints. Each sprint typically lasts 2 to 4 weeks, during which the team collaborates on specific tasks to deliver a finished product increment and meets regularly to discuss progress. At the end of each sprint, the project team reviews achievements and plans tasks for the next sprint. Scrum project management is most effective for teams consisting of up to 14 people.

Suitable for:

  • Single-team projects with an incremental delivery approach
User storiesProduct vision Product backlog Planning meetingSprint backlogSprint 2-4 weeks Daily stand upDeploymentSprint review Sprint retrospectiveDev teamProduct ownerScrum masterDaily stand up

Scheme title: Scrum development methodology


Kanban is a project management technique that ensures complete project transparency, easy-to-understand workflows, and optimal workload for each developer by visualizing activities on a virtual board. As the project team members complete each task, this is immediately reflected on the activity board, allowing for the detection of blockers, necessary adjustments to the project plan, and quick task reprioritization in response to changed project priorities. Kanban can be used together with Scrum and Waterfall methods.

Suitable for:

  • Projects with dynamic requirements and continuous delivery approach
  • Support and maintenance projects
WorkstageBacklogAcknowledgedDevelopmentTestingDeploymentDoneStatus--In progressReadyIn progressReady--Job cardsWork item (type 1)Work item (type 2)

Scheme title: An example of a Kanban board


A hybrid methodology, Scrumban combines Scrum and Kanban routines and features. Originally designed to facilitate the transition from Scrum to Kanban or vice versa, Scrumban has evolved into a mature, flexible methodology characterized by iterations no longer than two weeks, on-demand planning when the number of current tasks falls below a minimum level, task prioritization, bucket planning to allow for long-term goal setting, and an absence of predefined roles in teams.

Scrum features
  • Sprints
  • Daily meetups
  • Sprint retrospectives
Kanban features
  • Project boards
  • Task cards
  • Work-in-progress limits

Suitable for:

  • Projects where Scrum or Kanban alone are not sufficient. For instance, projects where new features delivery is mixed with support activities, or requirements can evolve even within a single sprint
1 year
bucketFrom idea to goal---6 month
bucketFrom goal to requirement or story-3 month
bucketProduction boardTask 3Task 2Task 1Task 5

Scheme title: Planning buckets for project scope in Scrumban

Scrum of Scrums

Scrum of Scrums (SoS) is a methodology for scaling Agile techniques to coordinate the activities of several Scrum teams working on independent tasks within the same project. In SoS, each team chooses a representative to meet with delegates from other teams at scaled daily meetings to share project updates, identify task dependencies that can lead to delays or bottlenecks, and collaboratively resolve arising issues.

Suitable for:

  • Large-scale projects where a few Scrum teams are working in parallel on relatively independent pieces of work

Scheme title: How Scrum of Scrums works

Large Scaled Scrum

Large Scale Scrum (LeSS) scales up Scrum principles to accommodate multiple teams working on the same product. Unlike Scrum of Scrums where each team typically maintains its own sprint, backlog, and Definition of Done, LeSS promotes sharing these artifacts among the teams within a LeSS group for better focus on the product, more effective coordination, and prevention of duplicated efforts. There are two variants of this framework, so organizations can choose one depending on the number of people involved in a project – either LeSS for up to eight teams of eight people each or LeSS Huge for several thousand people.

Suitable for:

  • Projects where multiple teams are working on a single product or tightly related pieces of work


Previous sprint

  • Product backlog


Sprint planning

  • Sprint planning 1
  • Sprint planning 2


Sprint backlog

  • Scrummaster & feature team
  • Coordination
  • Product backlog refinement
  • Daily scrum
  • Coordination


Sprint review

  • Retrospective
  • Overall retrospective


Next sprint

  • Potentially shippable product increment

Scheme title: The Large Scale Scrum (LeSS) framework

Scaled Agile Framework

Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) is a set of principles, workflows, and organizational patterns for implementing Agile practices at scale within large enterprises. The framework offers four configurations designed for different levels of scale. Within each configuration, SAFe prescribes constructs, roles, and practices to provide the necessary degree of coordination and complexity management. Among others, SAFe principles include considering economic factors when making everyday decisions on the project, applying systems thinking, proving value without interruptions, and promoting decentralized decision-making.

Suitable for:

  • Large-scale projects implying alignment and orchestration of multiple teams and workstreams
Scaled Agile Framework

Scheme title: Scaled Agile Framework 6.0, essential configuration

Data source:

Popular Agile practices

There are several practices within the Agile framework that project teams can use to facilitate rapid software delivery, ensure a high quality product, and better align with the users’ expectations.

Lean development

Lean development shares Agile’s focus on adaptability and collaboration, so both models are often used in tandem. The methodology aims to create cost-effective and adaptable software while eliminating non-value-adding activities like reworks or task handoffs, reducing inefficiencies at all stages of the software development process, and promoting continuous product improvement through user feedback and iterative adjustments. Teams gather as much project details as possible to make decisions based on facts, not assumptions. With a full understanding of the project’s challenges and opportunities, the teams can prioritize tasks, choose technical solutions, and adjust workflows independently. For lean projects, the success depends heavily on the team’s autonomy and discipline.

Suitable for:

  • MVP development
  • Projects with tight budgets and timeframes
improvement1Identify value4Establish pull2Map the
value stream3Create flow

Scheme title: Lean software development

DevOps is a set of practices that fosters collaboration between the development and operations teams to streamline the software delivery process. Unlike sequential methodologies with independent development and operations phases, DevOps bridges the gap between these siloed teams. It also creates a culture of shared responsibility where both the development and operations teams align their priorities and activities with the client’s requirements and expectations.

Suitable for:

  • Projects with frequent product releases and high scalability requirements like SaaS

Scheme title: A diagram of the DevOps stages

Extreme programming

Extreme Programming, or XP, comprises a set of software engineering practices aimed at producing higher quality software quickly and adapting to the customer’s changing requirements. XP follows a set of values, including simplicity, communication, consistent feedback from end-users for setting project priorities and ensuring user-centricity, and respect for the project team and their work. This methodology provides specific programming recommendations for the development team. For example, best practices include writing and reviewing the code in pairs to capture mistakes as they occur, creating tests before coding and accepting the code only upon passing the tests, releasing software frequently in small increments to gather feedback, detecting bugs early, and monitoring how the software works in production. XP practices can be labor-intensive as they require much effort from developers and their involvement in frequent meetings, test-driven approach, and pair programming.

Suitable for:

  • Complex projects with fixed deadlines and unstable or unclear requirements
Iteration planWeeksRelease planMonthsAcceptance testDaysStand-up meetingOne dayPair negotiationHoursUnit testMinutesPair programmingSecondsCodePlanning/feedback loops

Scheme title: Planning/feedback loops in Extreme Programming

1Release planning2Iteration planning & designRelease plan3IterationIteration plan:Coding Continuous integration Unit testing4Acceptance testing, listening to feedbackLatest version5Small releaseCustomer approval6Final releaseFinal productBug fixes, next iterationRequirementsTest scenariosNew user story, next releaseUnclear estimatesExact estimatesSpikesCustomer’s user stories

Scheme title: XP lifecycle in a nutshell

Dynamic systems development

DSDM assumes the solution cannot be built perfectly on the first try because requirements can be added or changed during later iterations. Therefore, the model advocates building 80% of the most important features with the currently available project details to accommodate the actual business needs and meet delivery deadlines, spending only 20% of the effort required to produce the entire solution (Pareto’s Principle). The model features defined project management methods and project member roles and uses techniques like facilitated workshops, MoSCoW prioritization, and time boxing as well as features detailed documentation absent in most Agile frameworks.

Suitable for:

  • Time-sensitive projects where rapid delivery and time-to-market are crucial
Feasibility study & business studyFunctional modelAgree planIdentify functional prototypeCreate functional prototypeReview functional prototypeReview business aspectsImplementImplementa-tionReview functional prototypeTrain usersIdentify functional prototypeDesign & buildCreate functional prototypeReview functional prototypeAgree plan

Scheme title: Steps in the DSDM cycle

Feature-driven development

FDD organizes the development process around primary software features, breaking it down into manageable feature sets, prioritizing them, and delivering them iteratively. For each feature, developers undergo an iteration of planning, designing, and building. Usually, it takes two weeks to deliver a working feature. If not, the feature should be further broken down into smaller functions. This framework unites best software development practices from other Agile methodologies like team collaboration, developing and testing in iterations, and status reporting at all stages for easier progress and results tracking.

Suitable for:

  • Incrementally evolving projects, targeting continuous delivery of new features to users
Developing modelBuilding a list of featuresPlanning a featureDesign a featureBuild by featureInitial modellingModel storming

Scheme title: Process model for Feature-driven development

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Sequential vs Agile: comparison table






Value for the customer at the end of the project

Rapid value for the customer

Development life cycle





Organization of work



In long phases

In short iterations




At the start of the project

Throughout the project's life cycle

Team attributes



Adequacy of skills Strict assignment of roles

Agility Knowledgeability Collaboration

Customer’s involvement



At the beginning of the project for requirement elicitation

Throughout the project




Determined early in the project

Highly evolving Rapidly changing




Detailed documentation for each project step

Minimum documentation to support the needs of the project




Detailed communication plans and progress reports

Frequent interactions between individuals or small groups of stakeholders

Software development methodology selection: factors to consider

Project needs & requirements

Project size

Release strategy

Team expertise

Communica-tion within the project team

Project budget

Factors to consider

Determine if the project has clearly-defined requirements at the project’s start and assess the likelihood of changes later in the process
Consider the complexity of the requirements; a complex project requires larger project teams and an extended development process
Decide whether you want to launch a full-fledged product or if you’d like faster and regular releases of functional software
Discover what methodologies the development team is well-versed in
Choose a suitable balance between direct communication within the team and documentation-based collaboration
Consider upfront expenses (higher in sequential models), and resource allocation (predetermined with sequential models vs. unstable in Agile)
Project needs & requirements
Determine if the project has clearly-defined requirements at the project’s start and assess the likelihood of changes later in the process

Why adhere to a software development methodology?

Software development methodologies provide a structured approach to creating software, bringing benefits to both the project team and end-users.

Software tailored to customer needs

due to a structured development approach and well-organized communication between the team and end users

On-time software delivery

due to established project timeline and efficient project management

Higher software quality

because of well-structured sequence of processes, consistent SDLC practices, and effective team collaboration

Reduced development costs

due to optimized resource allocation, focus on the project’s goals, and prevention of errors, reworks, and project delays

Get help with your software development project

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Software development methodology statistics

Software development methodologies at a glance

42% of respondents report their organizations use a hybrid SDLC model that includes Agile, DevOps, or other options.

Mordor Intelligence

The global DevOps market was valued at $10.74 billion in 2023. It is expected to reach $29.43 billion by the end of 2029, registering a CAGR of 22.34% during the forecast period.


61% of respondents say DevOps helped them produce higher quality deliverables.

Allied Market Research

The global enterprise Agile transformation services market was valued at $27,621.57 million in 2022 and is projected to reach $141,985.14 million by 2032, growing at a CAGR of 18.1% from 2023 to 2032.

Agile methodologies

Standish Group

Agile projects are 3 times more likely to succeed than Waterfall projects.


Scrum and Kanban are the most popular software development approaches at the team level among the 80% of organizations that have adopted Agile principles and practices in software development.

Business Agility Institute & Scrum Alliance

62% of organizations look for communications skills in Agilists while 52% look for technical skills.

72% and 73% of medium and large businesses, respectively, say their IT teams have adopted Agile practices and principles.

Broadcom Software

Agile teams following all Scrum ceremonies demonstrate 250% better quality than teams that skip Sprint planning ceremonies.

Top benefits from using Agile are improved collaboration and better alignment to the business processes.

JCURV, Truthsayers, Agile Business Consortium

62% of Agile leaders focus on business value, and 70% promote experimentation.


4+ million technical professionals have achieved Agile certification.

Kanban University

86% of respondents said they expect to expand their Kanban initiatives next year.

Scheme title: Changes in the demand for Agile-related skills in organizations
Data source: Business Agility Institute & Scrum Alliance

Scheme title: Percentage of organizations that are expected to work using Agile-related skills
Data source: Business Agility Institute & Scrum Alliance

22.8%Lack of leadership buy-in19.3%Lack of resources17.5%Lack of training

Scheme title: Biggest roadblocks

to Agile implementation

Data source: Braintrust Consulting Group

The evolving landscape of software development methodologies

Having undergone a long evolution throughout the decades, software development methodologies continuously transform to meet the demands of today’s business and technology landscape. Adopting the right software development methodology is paramount, as it sets the foundation for the project’s success and development of high-quality software. Businesses should choose the framework based on their particular needs, as well as the latest trends in the industry. To avoid mistakes when navigating diverse development methods, consider turning to Itransition to support your software product development project.

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