There are two main approaches that drive the project lifecycle in the software development industry. The Waterfall method, also known as traditional software development, is a structured, linear approach that relies on processes to achieve the desired results. Agile methodology is a non-linear approach to software development that allows for flexible planning and adaptation to changing requirements throughout the process. When selecting a custom software development vendor, it’s critical to become acquainted with both approaches in order to determine which approach is best for your company’s needs.
Traditional software development methodologies can be broken down into four distinct stages. The first stage involves determining the project’s requirements and estimating the time required to implement the various development stages while attempting to predict potential problems. Following the determination of the requirements, the process proceeds to the planning and architectural design phase, in which a technical infrastructure is created in the form of diagrams or models. These identify potential issues that the project may encounter as it progresses and provide a viable roadmap for developers to follow.
When the team is satisfied with the architectural and design plan, the project moves to the development phase, during which code is produced until specific goals are met. Development is frequently divided into smaller tasks that are distributed across multiple teams based on skill. To ensure that issues are addressed early on, the testing phase frequently overlaps with the development phase. The client will become a part of the testing and feedback cycle once the project is nearing completion and the developers are close to meeting the project requirements. The project is completed once the client is satisfied.
This method of software development is based on structured processes and extensive documentation that guides the work performed at each stage. The success of a rigid structure is dependent on all requirements being known before the development phase begins and remaining constant. This facilitates the development of plans, the estimation of project costs, and the allocation of resources.
However, problems arise and new specifications are discovered during the development phase in the real world of software development. The traditional tiered approach to software development does not allow for the flexibility needed to address these issues without incurring significant cost and time. In complex situations, it may be necessary to restart from scratch.
Agile methodology is a more adaptable approach to custom software development. The emphasis in this approach is less on the structured development process and more on team collaboration. Rather than relying on documentation to track project progress, the goal is to create functional software in small steps before all requirements are met. Clients and developers work together throughout the project life cycle, not just when documenting requirements and negotiating contracts. The agile methodology is intended to adapt to changing needs throughout the project.
Tasks are broken down into small intervals called iterations, which are short cycles lasting between one and four weeks in agile software development. Each iteration goes through the same steps as traditional software development, such as requirements gathering, program design, and development. However, rather than attempting to follow a single development cycle, this approach involves multiple iterations to meet the overall project requirements. Project requirements are reassessed at the start of each iteration. This enables you to respond to changing requirements even late in the development cycle. When the customer receives functional versions of the software throughout the development life cycle, ROI risks are reduced and continuous feedback is possible.
Despite the lower risk of software development using an agile methodology, there are some drawbacks. Because of the flexibility involved in this approach, it can be difficult to establish completion timelines and project budgets. Agile’s success is also dependent on ongoing customer collaboration. This approach may not be the best if the client does not have time to invest in the process.
Understanding the development methods used by the company you hire for custom software development will have an impact on overall customer satisfaction. Agile and tiered methods are both practical solutions with a track record of success. If your project requirements are straightforward and unlikely to change, selecting a supplier via the traditional method is a viable option. Agile software development solutions, on the other hand, are the best option if your project necessitates a high level of flexibility and continuous collaboration.