While the IT sector is booming and moving progressively forward, experiencing various changes and transitions along the way, there certainly are some firmly established software development methodologies which development teams and project managers integrate into their software engineering practices. Such methods are not only used to facilitate and speed up the whole development process but also to deliver the highest possible value to clients in the technical form of a contemporary software product.
So, before we see how such technologies and highly digitalized businesses come to life, let’s have a closer look at 8 engineering strategies and iterative software development methodologies that ‘breed’ these types of software inventions.
- The Waterfall Model
This is the traditional method for software development which follows a linear software engineering flow. The progress of a project based on The Waterfall Model happens in a consecutive “from-top-to-bottom” order which goes through several specific phases or levels: gathering product requirements – design – implementation – verification – maintenance. Because of it straight directive, this particular model is simple to adopt, easy to comply with, and enables for quick testing.
- Agile Software Development
Whenever there are unexpected or frequent changes either from the client’s side or internal, this model becomes the perfect choice for managers and team leaders. This technique serves well to cross-functional teams that self-organize their tasks and priorities. Some of the principles of this iterative method include: face-to-face meetings; constant cooperation; early and continuous delivery of working software; transparency.
- Rapid Application Development (RAD)
Because the Waterfall Model turned out to be rather slow compared to the fast-growing IT industry nowadays, alternative software development methodologies simply had to be created in response to these drawbacks. And one such alternative method is RAD which adopts object-oriented programming. Instead of prioritizing on planning activities, the rapid application development focuses on fast software development and user involvement. It highlights the importance of prototyping, changes and adaptability to customers’ preferences. It also fosters the re-use of software components and takes into account key risk factors in the early stages of the project.
Avoiding the conventional sequential software development methodologies, the Scrum model adopts more flexible disciplines which are open to last-minute changes. Teamwork, inspection and transparency are key factors in the Scrum method. Development teams are able to organize themselves in the most appropriate and convenient way, they provide regular updates and the entire workflow is divided into sprints. There are user stories which describe different requirements types in order to simplify development tasks. The client is involved in the whole process and along with the team, they determine and focus on certain sprint product backlog items that need to be completed.
- Prototyping model
Creating incomplete versions of a software program and submitting them to clients as an early approximation of what the final product will look like has become a common practice among programming communities. And this is part of the prototyping model precisely. On the one hand, this kind of trial-and-error processes allow development teams to come to terms with requirements, expectations and progress. On the other hand, the model helps clients get a clear idea about the process and architecture of the whole project.
- Joint Application Development (JAD)
Emphasizing largely on transparency, the JAD methodology has the main purpose to make clients and end-users part of the design-develop process of software products. There are series of workshops (JAD sessions) that serve to optimize productivity, improve communication, deliver faster development times, boost collaboration between sites and help people reach to commitment or informative decisions in the end.
- Extreme Programming (XP)
The implementation of this agile development approach in particular has the goal to allow for a better responsiveness and awareness of changing client requirements. The positive effect of XP is measured by improved communication and simplicity, coordinated roles, better feedback and more. Short development cycles, small, releases, code review, regular checkpoints, unit testing are part of extreme programming as well and they are intended to engage programmers in a more productive teamwork.
- Feature Driven Development
When IT companies work on a bigger project, they usually implement the feature driven development methodology. It is based on five crucial steps that guarantee easy development. These pre-set activities are: developing an overall model; building a list with concrete features; planning by features; building by feature.
Dimitar Dikov (Project Manager at BGO Software) points out; “We have worked on a variety of projects, some of them for clients from the Pharma industry and Clinical Research, others for the IT sector. Some of our biggest projects are related to incident management, like IMS; logistics and district management or civil engineering. And as the scope and nature of the projects vary, so do the software development methodologies we implement. We approach each and every project in a way that combines our corporate philosophy with clients’ requirements and project’s components. Most of the times, though, the method which turns out to be our number one choice is Scrum or the Waterfall development model. They enable the whole team to plan and organize each and every step consequently, while simultaneously allowing us to keep track of progress, use milestones and schedules. We do a lot of up-front testing and designing too. All of this, of course, is coupled with short meetings to brief everyone about where we are now and where we should be. Communication is very important for the proper project implementation.”
We are witnessing a technological upheaval that redefines our notions about the way we do business, work, live, socialize and create industry breakthroughs. Called the Fourth Industrial Revolution, it overwhelms entire ecosystems of management, production and deployment. There are smart applications and wearables that control our houses and vehicles. IoT and Big Data become drivers of change in companies. The increasing levels of innovation and the demand for progressive programming skills result in alternative career opportunities and different IT jobs of the future. And before we see the next big thing coming to life, team leaders and project managers need to choose the right and most effective software development methodology. To determine which one that would be depends on the project itself, resources, company’s strategies and clients‘ expectations.