different software development models

You cannot ignore the importance of software in your day-to-day life because we all know that our life would be incomplete without software. Software is a fundamental pillar for performing daily chores or doing business tasks effectively. For Instance – If you play games on your mobile device or use GPS in your car, you solely depend on software to meet your basic requirements. 

To begin with, we will delve deeper to make you understand what a software development model is, the various types of software development models you could choose for your organization, and which one is best for your business.   

What are Software Development Models?

Software Development Models
Software Development Models

The software development model refers to the processes and methodologies required for project development. Additionally, The software development model refers to the flow of processes or series of steps required to develop high-quality software.   

There are various types of software development models an organization can use. It’s all about selecting the right type of model. There are various factors businesses can consider when choosing the perfect software development model, such as the timeframe required to complete the project, business needs and user requirements, project goals, and objectives, etc.  

Finally, businesses use software development models to guide the initiation of the software development process.


Types Of Software Development Models

 Here are the 7 software development models –

1. Waterfall Model    

The first model of software development was the waterfall model. Therefore, it is considered an old model of software development. The waterfall model comprises sequential steps where the output of one stage serves as an input for another stage.    

When the development stages are complete, the team conducts testing. This model is referred to as the waterfall model, as the development process starts from the top and progresses to the bottom. The waterfall model can be a profitable option for you to choose when the development team has clarity about their end goals.    

As the development process takes place in sequential stages, the development team becomes unable to modify or alter the project.

Waterfall Model

The waterfall model follows the 6-step development process –   

  1. Firstly, Analyze the user requirements    
  2. Create the system design which focuses on outlining hardware and system requirements    
  3. Perform the implementation phase   
  4. Q/A team conducts testing to check whether there are any bugs or errors in the project   
  5. Software becomes available to end users    
  6. Finally, Regular maintenance and support teams need to ensure that the software remains up to date. 

When to use Waterfall Model?

It is suitable for projects with stable technology, and the project team has experience with similar projects.  

When not to use the Waterfall model?

The Waterfall model is not a good option for complex or large-scale projects, where requirements are likely to change during the project or where there are many uncertainties.   

Additionally, the Waterfall model may not suit projects where the development process does not actively involve the customer or end-users. Hence, It may lead to a mismatch between the project deliverables and the end-users needs and expectations. 

2. V Model   

V model stands for verification and validation model. This model is called as V model as this model resembles the V shape. Also, V model expands on the waterfall model by performing tasks linearly and conducting testing at each stage of development.

V model is best to perform in those cases where there is a clarity of project requirements. Testing and development are performed simultaneously in the V software engineering model. The left-hand side of the model represents development activities, while the right-hand side of the model represents testing activities.   

When to use V Model?

V model is suitable for projects which require a high level of quality assurance or in those cases where the failure of the software could lead to adverse consequences. In addition, V model is profitable to use in those cases where designing and testing are closely integrated.  

In what cases V model is not a good choice for software development projects? 

V model is not suitable for small projects or those projects which do not require a high degree of quality assurance  

3. Spiral Model   

The spiral model is a combination of the waterfall model and the iterative development model. The spiral model represents the coil shape where specific activities are performed in one spiral until the software develops. The number of loops each project has may vary from project to project.   

Development of the software takes approximately 6 months. In the spiral model, the customer gets involved throughout the development process. The development team can measure the progress of the project through the number of angular dimensions.  

The spiral model is an expensive model for developing software and is highly suited for small projects.  

The spiral model follows the 4-step process for the development of software –  

  • Identification of project requirements   
  • Conduct risk analysis   
  • The development and testing phase is conducted   
  • The customer evaluates the software   

When should the Spiral model be used?  

The Spiral model suits large-scale development projects or projects with changing requirements.   

In what cases is the Spiral model not a good choice for software development projects?  

The Spiral model is not suitable for small projects or projects with well-defined requirements. Using the Spiral model for projects which involve strict deadlines is not preferable.   

4. Incremental And Iterative Model   

The iterative development model divides the project into various iterations, each representing a complete development loop.   

Though these 2 terms are interrelated, both are entirely different.   

The iterative development model focuses on repeating each iteration until the final product is developed. The iterative model emphasizes developing software part by part. Under the iteration model, a rough product is created and reviewed, and evaluated in the next iteration.   

On the contrary, the Incremental model is related to breaking down the project into smaller increments. A similar methodology for smaller increments would involve requirements analysis design, coding, and testing. A combination of smaller increments together makes the entire product.   

When to use Incremental and Iterative models?  

Incremental and Iterative projects are suitable for projects where requirements are unclear, projects that require early delivery, and there is an involvement of stakeholders.

In what cases is the Incremental and Iterative model not a good choice for software development projects?  

This model is unsuitable for projects where requirements are defined in advance, and projects with limited resources. However, the iterative and incremental model is resource-intensive because it involves delivering projects in small increments. 

5. Prototyping Model   

When creating software, creating a prototype representing a sample would be better. The prototyping model enables the development team to understand the customer needs to the closest level to create a product replica.   

Creating a prototype would give an idea to developers to develop a product according to customer needs. A prototype model would reduce the chances of miscommunication before developing the final product.

Under the prototype model, the development team creates a sample prototype, tests it, reviews it with the customer, and then improves the prototype. 

The advantage that the prototype model provides to the development team is that it reduces the number of iterations which in turn saves the time of developers and, at the same time, provides an increased level of customer satisfaction.   

When to use the prototyping model?  

  • Projects with evolving requirements   
  • Projects where feedback from users is critical   
  • Projects where there is a need for rapid development   

In what cases is the prototyping model not a good choice for software development projects?  

  • Not suitable for projects where requirements are unclear
  • Projects involving limited resources
  • The prototyping model is not suitable for projects which involve a high degree of complexity or risk   

6. Scrum Model   

Scrum software development model
Scrum Model

The Scrum model is the most popular model of software development. It has various iterations, which are known as sprints. Scrum segregates software development into shorter cycles, These iterations run for a maximum of 2-4 weeks.   

After completion of the sprint, developers cannot make further changes in developing the final product.   

As there is an increased level of collaboration between the customers and development time, it reduces the time to market the software.   

Moreover, The scrum model follows the 5-step process for developing software-  

  • Creation of product backlog   
  • Conduct sprint planning  
  • Working on daily scrum meetings   
  • Performing sprint review   
  • Conducting next sprint planning   

When to use scrum model?

  • It is suitable for projects where requirements are not clear  
  • Projects that put more emphasis on collaboration and teamwork   
  • Projects where there is a scope for continuous improvement   

In what cases is the Scrum model not a good choice for software development projects?  

  • Projects where there is a low degree of user involvement   
  • Projects which as a small team size   
  • Projects where there is a high degree of risk   

7. Kanban Model   

Kanban is an agile methodology that facilitates real-time communication. The development team uses the Kanban board to represent the project activities, persons responsible, etc.   

The Kanban board outlines a visual overview of tasks that needs to be completed in 3 ways-  

  • Current tasks (In Progress) 
  • A task that is completed (Done) 
  • A task that has to be performed in the future (To Do)   

The Kanban is useful for non-iterative projects such as Support and DevOps where you do not need to go through phases several times. Not only this, but the Kanban approach is also used by the world’s leading brands, such as Toyota, Spotify, Pixar, and Zara. 

Also Read: Benefits Of Custom Software Development For Startups

Development Engagement Models In the Software Industry   

Here are the 3 types of engagement models that are commonly used in the software industry –  

1. Fixed Price Model   

Under the Fixed price model, the project requirements and cost are fixed. Also, The development team cannot charge extra dollars to develop the project. Companies mainly use a fixed price model when they have well-defined project requirements, regardless of the time and effort required to create the software or an application.  

2. Time And Material Model  

Under the time and material model, the organization pays for the expertise and time required to complete the project. The amount is directly proportional to the number of hours spent on developing the project. The time and material model is preferable to use when the project scope is unclear.    

3. IT Staff Augmentation   

Under the staff augmentation model, an organization outsources its IT personnel to complete a specific project. Here, an organization outsources its dedicated IT professionals with expertise in the IT domain on a contractual basis.   

Additionally, IT staff augmentation is a handy option for businesses to improve organizational efficiency and effectiveness. Staff augmentation can do wonders for you if an organization has limited bandwidth to complete the projects or is searching for top-notch IT professionals.   

If you ask us which is the best engagement model for software development projects. In that case, it depends on various factors such as the type of project, how much budget you have, the timeframe required to complete the project, and whether your in-house team has the necessary skillset or bandwidth to do a software development project.   

Wrapping Up   

So, you might get a clear idea about various software development models you can opt for your development project. If you ask us, ” Which is the best model for your software development project, ” the answer is entirely subjective. However, we can help you choose the right one that fits your development needs.   

  • You can choose the waterfall model when project requirements are already clear and are mainly preferable for smaller projects.   
  • Secondly, The iterative and incremental model is suitable for large projects.   
  • Thirdly, The spiral model is suitable for complex and large projects where you want to avoid potential risks associated with the project.  

Our software developers at Big oh tech have analyzed all the models based on various parameters – time, cost, and quality.

Talk to our experts for your software development needs  

Also Read: Software Development Methodology


Q1. What are the different types of software development models?  

1. Waterfall model  
2. V model   
3. Spiral model  
4. Incremental and Iterative model   
5. Prototyping model   
6. Scrum model   
7. Kanban model   

Q2. What is the agile software development model, and how does it differ from the waterfall model?  

The agile development approach focuses on working collaboratively to ensure the faster completion of projects. However, the waterfall model follows sequential, step-by-step processes where the completion of one stage leads to the beginning of another stage of development.   
Additionally, the agile development approach involves performing development and testing simultaneously.

Q3. What are some common challenges of the software development model?  

1. Difficulty in defining the requirements   
2. Too many bugs in the final product   
3. Miscommunication with customers/stakeholders   
4. Limited time constraints  

Q4. How can project managers determine which software development model is best?  

There is no best software development model as best depends on various factors such as project requirements, budget, the skillset of IT personnel, etc. As a software company, you should always choose a model that works well for you and achieve business objectives in minimal time that too with improved quality.

Q5. How can project managers ensure the successful implementation of a chosen software development model? 

Firstly, project managers and management must select the appropriate software development model based on the project type, engagement, and duration. 
A team designs a project tracking tool and meticulously carries out all ceremonies in accordance with the chosen software development model. Regardless of the development model used, all models focus on increasing team productivity, reducing team effort, improving collaboration and quality, and increasing velocity.


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