In the software development industry, there are two main approaches that drive the project lifecycle. Traditional software development, also known as the waterfall method, is a linear and structured approach that relies on processes to achieve end results. Agile methodology is a non-linear approach to software development that adapts to changing requirements and flexible planning throughout the process. When choosing a vendor to develop custom software, it’s important to be familiar with both methods to determine which is the best approach for your business needs.
Traditional software development practices can be broken down into four distinct phases. The first step is to establish the requirements for the project and determine the time it will take to implement the various stages of development, while trying to predict any problems that may arise. Once the requirements have been formulated, the next step is the design and architecture planning phase, in which a technical infrastructure is created in the form of diagrams or models. These surface potential issues that the project may encounter as it progresses and provide a viable roadmap for implementation by developers.
Once the team is satisfied with the architecture and design plan, the project moves to the development phase, where code is built until specific goals are met. Development is often broken down into smaller tasks that are divided among different teams based on skill. The testing phase often overlaps with the development phase to ensure issues are addressed early. As the project nears completion and the developers are close to meeting the project requirements, the customer becomes part of the testing and feedback cycle. If the customer is satisfied, the project is delivered.
This linear approach to software development relies on structured processes and extensive documentation to guide the work at each stage. The success of a rigid structure depends on all requirements being known before the development phase begins and not changing. This makes it easy to set schedules, determine project costs and allocate resources.
However, in the real world of software development, problems arise and new specifications are discovered during the development phase. The traditional waterfall approach to software development does not provide the flexibility to address these issues without incurring significant expense and time. In complex situations it can mean that you have to start from scratch.
A more flexible approach to custom software development is the Agile methodology. With this approach, the focus is less on the structured development process and more on teamwork. Rather than relying on documentation to measure a project’s progress, the goal is to produce working software in incremental stages before all requirements are met. Customers and developers work together throughout the lifecycle of the entire project and are not limited to requirements documentation and contract negotiations. The agile methodology is designed to meet changing requirements throughout the project.
In Agile software development, tasks are broken down into small steps called iterations, which are short cycles lasting between one and four weeks. Each iteration follows the same process as traditional software development, such as B. Gathering requirements, creating a plan and developing it. However, this approach involves multiple iterations to meet the entire project requirements rather than attempting to follow a single development cycle. At the beginning of each iteration, the project requirements are re-evaluated. This means that changing requirements can also be adapted at the end of the development process. Providing the customer with working versions of the software throughout the development lifecycle minimizes the risk of a return on investment and allows them to provide continuous feedback.
Despite the lower risk of software development using an Agile methodology, it is not without certain disadvantages. Because of the flexibility inherent in this approach, it can be difficult to set completion timelines and calculate budgets for the project. The success of Agile is also based on the continuous cooperation with the customer. If the customer does not have time to invest in the process, this approach may not be the best method.
Understanding the development practices in the working environment of the company you hire to develop custom software affects overall customer satisfaction. Both agile and waterfall methods are viable solutions with proven success. If your project needs are straightforward and unlikely to change, choosing a vendor that uses the traditional method is a good solution. However, if your project requires a high level of flexibility and continuous collaboration, agile software development solutions are the best option.