Best Software Development Life Cycle Methodologies in 2021

Best Software Development Life Cycle Methodologies In 2019

Do you remember seeing this image doing rounds on the internet? It has been the high key for all aspiring artists. Well, till now, we were only relating this to human skills and abilities! But, if we are to introspect it from the viewpoint of Software Development.
Since technology has been advancing in leaps and bounds, there is no such thing as a limitation in digital projects and their implementation. Custom software development companies are claiming that they are evolving with the growing needs of the market. Still, if we look closely, there is one aspect of the Software Development Life Cycle that has not developed much with time- that is the SDLC Methodology!

Like the above-displayed image, the software outsourcing companies are trying to justify each project using an agile methodology. While the truth is that Custom Software Development companies, true to their nature, are evolving in their choice of methods.
Every digital project has a different purpose. There is no such thing as ideal SDLC models in software engineering that can fulfill all software development requirements and approaches. The SDLC methodology must be based on the purpose of the application to satisfy the client’s needs at the right time and with the right amount of resources.

What is Software Development Life Cycle?

The software development life cycle (SDLC) is a process to keep a software check built. It is a methodology to ensure the development, quality, functioning, testing, and deployment of the software.

SDLC is a method to create software with the highest quality, lowest cost, and least time possible. It strives to match the customer needs with detailed structure and specifications. The software development life cycle is also referred to as the application development cycle, encompasses several phases to complete the process. It enables the developers to plan, build, and develop software successfully. Let’s proceed with the several stages of the SDLC life cycle below and watch how it works.

Phases of software development

Software development requires a few key stages to analyze, plan, design, test, and finally deployment. It takes many team efforts to identify the customer needs, collect the resources, set the schedule, and develop software. Therefore, these phases are here to an elaborated SDLC cycle and roles played by each one of them.

1. Analyze the customer needs

This stage is about aggregating the information from various resources and planning the process accordingly. It starts with identifying the customer demands, continues with analyzing the resources needed as per the needs, and then planning the cost to maintain the development process successfully and affordably.

2. Outline a plan

Till this stage, we only know the requirements. We plan the resources, costs, and other minute details of the project during this stage before proceeding with the structure. Resources are manageable, yet something that has to be planned closely is the cost limit. The team has to make sure to maintain an adequate balance between everything.

3. Prepare a design

As per the project requirements and a detailed plan, a design is prepared to define the overall framework. Everything is covered in the designing stage, from the project name, description, functionality to identifying the key elements and technical gaps. There are two levels of designing: High-level design (HLD) and Low-level design (LLD).

4. Coding:

Coding is one of the most essential and most extended SDLC methods. Developers play the protagonist in this phase of a model/project. By following pre-defined coding guidelines and using the required programming tools, they write the pre-determined language tools and eventually implement them.

5. Test the progress

Once everything is done, testing the system functionality starts, this phase aims to test whether the entire system is working as per the requirements. Another reason for it is to check for any bugs or technical glitches, if any.

6. Deployment

If no issue is detected in the testing phase, the software is then deployed. Lastly, it is equally essential to ensure that there are no issues during the deployment process based on the feedback.

7. Maintenance

After the deployment process, other elements are observed once the customers start using the system. They are:

  • Timely updates
  • Instant bug fixing
  • Latest features added

This phase is equally essential as the first one in order to maintain the efficiency and functionality of the software.

The software development phase aims to ensure that the outcome meets the customer needs in every aspect and is carried out smoothly even after the deployment process.

Software Development Life Cycle Methodologies

1. Low Budget Experimental Project

When customers do not have a high budget for the project and are in the experiential stage as there is no certainty about the application’s success, the Software Development Life Cycle methodology that works the best for such projects is Lean Development Methodology.

What is Lean Development Methodology?

Lean Development Methodology is a type of Agile Methodology that is a more consciously engaged development technique employed to design the software in one-third of the time duration, within a limited budget and minimal resources. Development Process Ideal Scenario:

Development Process

blog infograph

ProjectSmall sized
Resources requiredLimited
Type of ProjectOne-time project

Points to consider:

  • Since the project is conceived as small or mid-sized and has uncertainty about the project’s feasibility, there will high chances of lack of scalability.
  • Due to the low budget, the team needs to work quickly on the project.
  • Lack of planning and expertise can create chaos.

2. Faster Go-To-Market Software for Initiator Advantage

When the customer has a unique idea that needs complete confidentiality and intends to reach the market as an initiator to take the first-mover advantage, software development methodologies that work the best for such projects are Rapid Application Development.

What is Rapid Application Development (RAD)?

Rapid Application Development is an adaptive software development approach employed when there is no time for extensive planning. With the use of the initial prototype, the project is developed based on the testing adaptations.

Prototyping is the key as the risks and budget are high. The feasibility and risk analysis is not done through planning but via prototypes. Here, testing plays an integral part as the project changes are based on it. The product is launched with its minimum features and based on the customers’ feedback, and the product is further developed in different phases.

Development Process

analysis quick design

Ideal Scenario:

ProjectSmall and Mid sized
Resources requiredModerate
Type of ProjectLong term

Points to Consider:

  • This methodology contradicts the traditional development methodology and requires specific expertise and adaptability from the developers to complete the project effortlessly.
  • Higher involvement of clients and users is needed.
  • Since the project is conceived as small or mid-sized and a need of urgency to reach the market, there will always be a lack of scalability as the adaptive software development life cycle approach ignores the long-term planning and requirements.

3. Big Project- Continuous Development and Innovation

Specific projects have massive architecture and require continuous development with the evolving market and customer requirements. With the growing needs of development and innovation, the project requirements change frequently, and it needs to be completely scalable to keep the project going.

Generally, such projects are not handled by any single Software Outsourcing company and are managed by multiple vendors. The Software Development Life Cycle methodology that works the best is Agile- Scrum methodology for such humongous projects.

What Is Scrum Software Development?

For starters, Scrum is an agile framework that helps manage software development and design by small or medium-sized teams containing around three to nine members. Many such teams work on the more significant project and break their actions into time-boxed iterations called sprints.

A sprint can be of one week to one month, depending upon the project requirements. But this approach tracks progress daily via 15-minute time-boxed stand-up meetings called daily scrums, also, for multi-vendor projects or large projects that include multiple teams, a concept called Large-scale Scrum (LeSS).

This development approach is best suitable for those development projects that are constantly innovating and has extreme development requirements.

Development Process

daily scrum

Ideal Scenario:

ProjectHuge project size
Resources requiredHigh
Type of ProjectContinuous

Points to Consider:

  • Projects are large, and though there are technologies like the digital whiteboard, there are possibilities that there can be a lack of communication between the teams.
  • Teams need specific expertise to cope-up with the delivery on time with the rest of the scrum teams for effortless release of the code and timely completion of the sprint.
  • Products that require extensive regression testing may have to incur higher cost if
  • They employ scrum methodology as the development will commence only once the increment is completed.

4. Experimental Large Sized Projects with Feasibility and Uncertainty

Many such projects have huge potential and are large-scale. Due to the lack of financial resources, feasibility, or uncertainty of the market, the customer approaches any Custom Software Development Company with Minimum Viable Product (MVP) requirements.

To fulfill the project’s current requirements with an eye on the whole project and its scalability needs, the Software Development Life Cycle methodology that works best for such a project is the Incremental Build Model.

What is Incremental Build Model?

Incremental Build Model is a waterfall methodology approach combined with the philosophy of Prototyping. To avoid long durations of development time and fulfill the MVP approach’s requirements, the project is broken into smaller components/increments. Each component/increment is then individually developed, tested, and deployed to allow the partial use of the product and to get feedback and, in some instances, revenue from the end-users.

Development Process


Ideal Scenario:

ProjectHuge project size
Resources requiredModerate
Type of ProjectContinuous (Depending upon the feasibility check of the project)

Points to Consider:

  • The overall cost of the product may be higher compared to other development methodologies.
  • After the feedback, if there arises a need to add additional functionality to the product, system architecture may not support such change. It can create chaos or may result in the re-engineering of the product.
  • There is a limited scope of changes in the core product requirements.

5. Feature Driven Projects that require Huge Amount of Data Processing

If the customer is looking for a kind of project that requires a lot of data processing or a typical Object Oriented programming that is to be managed by a vast team of developers, Software Development Life Cycle methodology has the iterative approach which such projects require is- Feature Driven Development.

What is Feature Driven Development?

Development Process

model stroming

As the name suggests, Feature Driven Development methodology is where the project and its overall model are built, designed, and deployed based on the product’s set of features.

Ideal Scenario:

Resources requiredHigh
Type of ProjectContinuous

Points to Consider:

  • It isn’t easy to estimate a deadline for project completion.
  • As the project is not planned based on the system architecture and has many “objects” (data) points, a small error may also crash.

6. Projects Based on Industry or Organizational Processes

Suppose the customers require digitization of an organization’s specific process or cater it to the whole industry as a product. In that case, these projects are knowledge-intensive and require extensive planning. The life cycle model in software engineering methodology that works best is Joint Application Development.

What is Joint Application Development?

Development Process

joint application development

It is a development methodology where the knowledge workers from the industry along with the customer meets the IT professionals from a Centre of Excellence (CoE) and do extensive planning of the project initially and based on the specifications and requirements gathered during the planning stage, and the software product is shaped.

After the planning, the customer is then included in the design stage to understand the actual expansion and execution of the project.

Ideal Scenario:

ProjectMid or Big size
Resources requiredHigh
Type of ProjectOne time

Points to Consider:

  • Teams working on the project need to have excellent interpretation skills to understand the project and its requirements fully.
  • The planning is extensive and can also result in higher costs.
  • The project needs to build only on the pre-set standards during the planning stage; hence there is no scalability of the product in the future.

7. Quality driven projects that require development, test, and deployment

Projects that require higher quality software products in significantly less time apply the DevOps methodology. It came into the limelight when it reduced the development and delivery time while taking care of the quality.

Quality driven projects that require development, test, and deployment

What is the DevOps software development life cycle?

DevOps model is the combination of development and operations working together. It is the collaboration of both departments that integrate innovative and higher quality software products. It is a methodology where the operations and development practices are involved in delivering a specific application or service.

8. Projects that require a more prominent software with frequent changes required

If a customer is clear about his requirements and intends for the changes until completing the project, this model will suit them best.

What is the Iterative development model?

The iterative model is an implementation of a software development life cycle focusing on developing the software’s initial version and then working on the next version if any changes are required. The Iterative model ensures the changes made in all the versions of the project development.

Iterative development model

Points to Consider:

  • It suits best for more significant projects.
  • Total resources required can’t be scaled accurately at the start.
  • At times, the budget may proceed more than the defined one.
  • Changing requirements might lead to delayed delivery.

9. Large, complex, and high-budget projects that require frequent changes and delivery

A customer who is unclear about the project requirements and looking for frequent changes; needs to implement a spiral model. Projects that need help with development and enhancement processes should lead towards a spiral model.

Large, complex, and high-budget projects that require frequent changes and delivery

What is the Spiral Model?

It is a prototyped model with an Iterative feature to work on developing new versions of the software. The spiral model’s risk-driven feature enables the customers to implement a prototype, specification, or simulation-oriented approach into their project.

Points to consider:

  • Require a higher budget for the completion of the project.
  • Working on this project requires expertise to accomplish the objectives.

10. Projects requirements and resources with a stable framework

Customers who are transparent with all their project requirements and pre-define the need for resources are the ones who can apply the waterfall model in their projects. It can also be practiced on projects where the start and end dates are stable.

What is the Waterfall model?

The waterfall model majorly encompasses 5 phases: Requirements analysis, specification, design, implementation, unit testing, integration, system testing, operation, and maintenance. This model ensures the consistent use of minimal resources and the unchanging behavior of the project.

Waterfall model

Points to consider:

  • This model is to be avoided when the project behavior is complex and more significant.
  • The projects that require constant changes should not go for this model.
  • It might get difficult to identify the risks at the earlier stages.

11. Projects that are non-ambiguous and smaller in size

When customers are clear and prepared with their project requirements when the project needs to have the expertise, attention, and technical resources, this model is the most suitable one.

What is V-model?

V-model is a sequential design process and is similar to the waterfall model. The two major phases involved in this model are Verification and validation. Both phases are mended into a coding phase, which makes this model a V-model.


Points to consider:

  • There’s lesser flexibility, so everything has to be done on time.
  • This model might not handle complex projects.
  • No need for early prototypes as software development is carried during the implementation stage.

So, now that you know that it is not fair to judge every creature based on their ability to climb the tree, you must choose your Software Outsourcing Company based on their expertise and understanding software life cycle models while delivering custom software development services.

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Maitray Gadhavi is a senior business development manager with Radixweb who accelerates the growth of organizations through innovation-led custom software development. Balancing the long-term gains in an evolving industry, he brings the voice of the customers into the enterprise. Binge-watching favourite series is his idea of fun after work.