July 23, 2024

The outcome of the entire project in many ways depends on the approach to software development — without a properly selected methodology, it is impossible to achieve product stability, workflow efficiency, safety, and sustainability. A methodology implies a structured approach to development, defines work steps and the order of tasks, as well as provides a set of strategies and practices that outline the process of implementing a product and contribute to the effective management of software creation.

Over the years of successfully working with clients of different sizes and different industries, Brights company

has effectively applied different methodologies — some of them have become favorites, and some the team has abandoned. Today, the company most often prefers the agile approach, but it is far from the only one in the portfolio of implemented cases.

Today, we will look at all the most effective software development approaches that definitely deserve your attention in 2024. Spoiler: no methodology is a universal solution. There is no perfect option, but there is one that is worse or better suited for specific projects, specific tasks, specific teams, and specific conditions.

Keep reading to find your win-win option for your next project.


  • Advantages: flexibility, close interaction with the product owner, permanent feedback, readiness for changes at any stage
  • Disadvantages: high requirements for the experience and skills of developers, little documentation, difficulties in estimating the timing and cost
  • Suitable for: projects of any scale

Agile methodology stands for a flexible development philosophy that emphasizes the variability of requirements and focuses on the team’s readiness for rapid changes at all stages of product implementation. The main principles of this approach combine effective communication, optimization of processes, a quality product as a key priority, team self-organization, keeping things simple, and adaptation to dynamically transforming requirements.

According to the Agile methodology, the project development process is divided into 6 stages:

  1. planning — brainstorming and requirements analysis;
  2. design — concept and prototype;
  3. development — iteration, demonstration, and feedback;
  4. testing — identifying defects and fixing bugs;
  5. deployment;
  6. delivery of the project to the client and the next iteration (if errors were found).

The Agile approach is the best solution for startups and projects that have increased requirements for flexibility, updates, and changes. This option is a win-win solution if you have an emphasis on rapid adaptation, innovation, and experimentation.


  • Advantages: clear project structure and documentation, complete certainty of information
  • Disadvantages: difficulties of adaptation, limited participation of the product owner, feedback and testing only at later stages
  • Suitable for: projects of any scale

Waterfall methodology stands for a linear approach to software development that is characterized by a rigorous, precise, and structured process. The main specificity of project implementation according to this model is that each next stage begins only after the completion of the previous one — each phase has its own requirements and depends on the results of the previous phase.

According to the Waterfall methodology, the project development process is divided into 6 stages:

  1. defining requirements and expectations from the final project;
  2. system design;
  3. project implementation;
  4. integration of modules and system testing;
  5. deployment of the end product;
  6. post-launch maintenance.

The Waterfall approach is the best solution for projects that are not complex and well thought out. This option is the optimal solution if all requirements are fixed, processes are well established, changes are unlikely, and the final result is predictable in advance.


  • Advantages: design flexibility, great attention to risk analysis
  • Disadvantages: quite high costs, long project implementation times
  • Suitable for: complex and expensive projects

Spiral methodology stands for a cyclical development process in which developers continually move through the same phases in a spiral to improve the product with each iteration. In this model, the main emphasis is on risk assessment and management, which means it is the best solution for projects where there is no room for error.

According to the Spiral methodology, the project development process is divided into 4 stages:

  1. planning and setting goals;
  2. risk analysis and prototyping;
  3. product design and development;
  4. project evaluation and next-cycle planning.

The Spiral approach is the best solution for projects with complex requirements, in which each next step requires strong analysis and risk assessment.


  • Advantages: fast validation, early feedback, careful assessment before actual development
  • Disadvantages: time-consuming, need for several iterations
  • Suitable for: undefined projects

Prototype methodology stands for an iterative approach, in which a prototype of the future project is created before the actual creation of the final product. This model is based on the trial and error method and is the best option for testing ideas and validating concepts.

According to the Prototype methodology, the project development process is divided into 6 stages:

  1. defining and analyzing requirements and expectations;
  2. fast design;
  3. prototyping;
  4. testing, prototype evaluation, and feedback;
  5. several iterations of refinement until the project meets expectations;
  6. implementation, launch, and maintenance.

The Prototype approach is the best solution for projects where a lot needs to be tested and verified to reduce risks during the actual development of a real project.


  • Advantages: high efficiency, high quality, flexibility, adaptability, reduced development costs, accelerated time-to-market
  • Disadvantages: high requirements for the qualifications and skills of the team, the need for detailed documentation
  • Suitable for: small and medium projects

Lean methodology stands for a development that focuses only on what is necessary and removes everything unnecessary from the process, resulting in the avoidance of unproductive activities and maximization of efficiency. Key principles of the model include continuous improvement, collective responsibility for overall success, workflow optimization, and an emphasis on eliminating losses.

According to the Prototype methodology, the project development process is divided into 4 stages:

  1. looking for opportunities for improvement;
  2. drawing up an improvement plan;
  3. implementation of improvements;
  4. checking the project after changes have been made and moving to a repeat cycle.

The Lean approach demonstrates the greatest effectiveness for small and medium-sized projects; for large projects with stringent requirements, it is a bad choice.

Rapid Application Development

  • Advantages: accelerated development, cost reduction, full involvement of the product owner, 
  • Disadvantages: high level of risk when implementing complex projects, unsuitability for large projects
  • Suitable for: small and medium projects

RAD (Rapid Application Development) methodology stands for a fast development process that is based on prototyping, continuous testing, and constant feedback and aims to achieve the fastest possible time-to-market. This model stipulates that only basic features are implemented first, and subsequent additions are added in further iterations.


According to the RAD methodology, the project development process is divided into 4 stages:

  1. requirements planning;
  2. design cycle: prototyping, testing, evaluation;
  3. development of the final project based on prototypes;
  4. launch.

The RAD approach is the best solution for projects that have a strong development team, unclear requirements, large budgets, and tight deadlines.

Extreme Programming

  • Advantages: emphasis on quality and continuous improvement
  • Disadvantages: the need for a large number of resources and high speed of work
  • Suitable for: small and medium projects

XP (Extreme Programming) methodology stands for one of the most radical types of development that requires creativity and out-of-the-box thinking and is accompanied by risk. The main points in this model are constant feedback, close communication, a transparent development process, and careful control to avoid chaos.

According to the XP methodology, the project development process is divided into 5 stages:

  1. planning and goal setting;
  2. designing;
  3. writing code;
  4. testing;
  5. receiving feedback and making changes.

The XP approach is the best solution for small and medium-sized projects that require innovation and rapid iteration, where constant feedback and close interaction within the team are critical.

Feature-Driven Development

  • Advantages: emphasis on functionality, ease of scalability
  • Disadvantages: need for industry expertise, unsuitability for small projects
  • Suitable for: medium and large projects

FDD (Feature-Driven Development) methodology stands for development with an emphasis on creating separate specific features, for each of which planning, design, and creation are carried out. The basic principles of the model include the division of a project into separate functionalities, individual features as separate projects, increased quality control, and collective ownership.

According to the FDD methodology, the project development process is divided into 5 stages:

  1. creating a general model;
  2. generating a list of functions;
  3. planning by function;
  4. designing by function;
  5. development by function.

The FDD approach is the best solution for complex projects that require a simple, scalable but structured development option with predictable results.

Joint Application Development

  • Advantages: reduction of development time, customer and user participation throughout the entire development process
  • Disadvantages: difficulties in organizing stakeholder meetings, possible conflicts in agreeing on goals
  • Suitable for: projects of all sizes

JAD (Joint Application Development) methodology stands for a development process that consists of separate sessions in which all project stakeholders participate. This model provides close collaboration, synchronization, and quick decision-making.

According to the JAD methodology, the project development process is divided into 5 stages:

  1. planning;
  2. preparation for the JAD session;
  3. holding a JAD session and reviewing prototypes;
  4. documentation and finalization.

The JAD approach is the best solution to reach a consensus between all stakeholders of the project — clients, users, developers, experts, etc.

Rational Unified Process

  • Advantages: good documentation, risk management, faster development
  • Disadvantages: complexity of the process, need for an experienced team
  • Suitable for: projects of all sizes

RUP (Rational Unified Process) methodology stands for a structured development that reduces unexpected costs and prevents wasted resources. The key principles of the model are early identification of risks and their ongoing elimination, component architecture that is implemented and tested in the early phases, and quality assurance at all stages of development.

According to the RUP methodology, the project development process is divided into 4 stages:

  1. defining the project vision and required resources;
  2. forecasting the cost and timing of the project;
  3. design, creation, and testing of the project;
  4. launch of the project and subsequent improvements.

The RUP approach is primarily used in object-oriented programming and systems engineering.

Final Thoughts

Software development approaches establish development life cycle planning and serve as the basis for project initiation, execution, and launch. The methodology allows teams to work consistently and harmoniously, implement projects on time and within budget, as well as avoid misunderstandings that may arise during the development process.

When it comes to finding the best methodology for your project, the choice of approach depends on many factors, including the specifics, the budgeting system, implementation deadlines, the characteristics of the development team, and even subjective preferences.

Each methodology has its features, principles, pros, and cons, and choosing the right model will benefit both you, the client, and the development team, increasing the efficiency of the project and leading to the expected results.

Interesting Related Article: “Beginner’s Guide to Project Management

Top 10 Software Development Methodologies: What to Choose in 2024 first appeared on Web and IT News.

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