Software Development Methodologies: An order in chaos


Software product development begins with the definition of a product life cycle. A clearly outlined action plan helps to understand the end result and what methods should be implemented to achieve it. 

To ensure that the project and tasks are structured, all the team members have a common understanding of the priorities, goals and deliverables, that’s where software methodology that comes into play. There are several fundamental methods of software development, and let’s look at each of them closely. 





Agile Software Development also known as Agile is a type of development methodology that anticipates the need for flexibility and applies a degree of pragmatism to the delivery of the finished software product. Agile software development requires a culture shift in many company mindsets as it focuses on delivering individual pieces of software rather than the entire application.



Many think agility is completely chaotic, where everyone does what they want. But that’s not the case. Tools like Microsoft Teams, Azure DevOps, Jira or Trello help create transparency with a focus on the customer. In order to develop value and goal-oriented products, that customer ends up using, processes and workstreams are prioritized right from the start. 

This way of working has to be tried, tested and learned. There is no concrete final status as there will always be changes and uncertainties. The agile way of working helps deal positively with these uncertainties.


Over the years, Agile has been compared to waterfall approaches. In the Waterfall era developers worked alone, with little to no input, before handing the software off to testers and then to production. Bugs, complications, and feature changes were either not handled well or so late in the process that projects were severely delayed or even cancelled.

The idea behind the Agile model, where everyone on the team remains involved and informed in the development process meant a profound change in company culture and the ability to bring better software to market faster.

Collaboration and communication became as important as technology, and because the Agile Manifesto is open to interpretation. Agile has been adapted and modified to fit organizations of all sizes and types. Agile’s cultural shift also paved the way for the latest evolution in software development: DevOps.


  • Ability to support teams in a changing landscape while maintaining a focus on delivering business value efficiently. 
  • The collaborative culture supported by Agile also improves efficiency across the organization as teams work together and understand their specific roles in the process.
  • Companies using Agile software development bring a quality product to the market where testing is performed throughout development, providing the opportunity to make changes if necessary and alerting teams to potential issues.


  • A lack of focus on technology can make it difficult to sell the concept to senior executives who don’t understand the role of culture in software development.
  • The need to complete sprints on time can create a stressful work environment for software developers. They may be forced to work overtime and stay late to meet deadlines.
  • It is difficult to estimate the budget and time required to develop the finished product.



Agile software development enables teams to deliver services faster, with higher quality and predictability, while at the same time being able to react better to changes. 

  • Freedom to experiment and develop in different directions 
  • Using prototypes, use proof of concepts, agile methods help set up software development as quickly and easily as possible 
  • Start software development small, including only the most necessary functions that will allow growth as much as needed later
  • Apply cloud infrastructure to let the environment grow as large as necessary
  • Integrate your infrastructure into the automation process right from the start
  • Monitoring your software development in terms of functionality backed up by valuable feedback from end-users that can be incorporated right for the start of the successful product launch. 



If the project is set up for a long life cycle and must be adaptable to changes in the market, then the Agile method fits perfectly. It allows you to adapt to the requirements and make changes on the go.



Agile software development methodology has several frameworks: Scrum, Kanban, Extreme programming, Feature-driven software development, Behavior-driven development, and Dynamic Systems Delivery. To better understand agile methodologies in a structured way, let’s look at some of the practices and frameworks.





The Scrum methodology forms the project by using “sprint” cycles. These intervals last from one to two weeks and are designed for teams of no more than 10 people. This is the main difference from the waterfall methodology, where individual tasks are linked to each other by dependencies.

Scrum has many unique features, one of which is having a Scrum Master or, in other words, a project lead who runs daily Scrum meetings, demos, sprints, and post-sprint retrospectives. All these meetings are necessary for the communication of key project participants and the timely completion of tasks.

Although Scrum is technically a project management methodology in its own right, it is often associated with the Agile system. This is due to the fact that these two approaches are united by common principles, including the principle of the importance of teamwork and the fact that the individual is valued over processes.



Speed. Quick launch of the project with the highest priority features and a low budget. Helps gain control over the progress of work and more flexible control over the project budget. The team works on different tasks of the project at the same time, which allows you to quickly achieve the desired goal.

Flexibility. Large tasks are divided into small ones, so it is much easier to make adjustments right in the process of work than in a waterfall approach.

Minimized risk. Reducing financial risks due to prompt response to changes and elimination of errors.

Transparency. There is an open exchange of information, which makes the work process as transparent as possible. Helps maintain a high level of motivation inside the team by having daily visibility of achievements.



Adaptability. This method is not applicable to every project. There are projects that require a thoroughly planned approach to work;

Feedback loops. Requires regular communication with the customer, which sometimes slows down the process due to the inability to receive feedback

Smaller projects. The complexity of implementation in large-scale and complex projects, as it is more suitable for small and medium-sized ones.



Scrum is an ideal approach for implementing an idea, it helps build work processes without a specific step-by-step plan at the initial stage. The team gradually eliminates uncertainty and analyzes the benefits of the efforts made.




This framework aims to improve the project management processes by visualizing the workflow using the Kanban board. This board can be physical or virtual and consists of columns that depict a specific stage in the development process. The core columns are Backlog, “In progress”, “Testing” and “Done”. As the project progresses, the tasks move from column to column until they are completed.

In Kanban, priorities may change at any time as circumstances change. This provides more flexibility than in Scrum.

Kanban is a methodology for managing teams where planning is impossible. For example, it could be technical support: if a customer called and filed an issue, the team cannot schedule to resolve it in the next sprint in two weeks. It is important to solve the problem as soon as possible and not lose customer loyalty, which means that planning and prioritization should be much more dynamic compared to Scrum. By using Kanban in your support team, you increase the loyalty and satisfaction of your customers.



Short-terma projects. This framework is most useful in teams where tasks are set on a stream and priorities change frequently.

Flexibility. Kanban methodology is not as strict on fixed timelines as other Agile approaches and allows for a continuous workflow.

Easy to use. Another advantage of the method is its simplicity. You don’t have to be an expert to understand how to work with it at a basic level. The teams get used to it quickly because the system is intuitive for everyone.



Long-term projects. The optimal number of people in the team should be no more than 10. Since the approach is aimed at quickly solving problems it will not be suitable for long-term projects 

No set priorities. Kanban does not have sprints like Scrum does. Tasks float on the board in the general stream by priority.



Best suited for projects that are highly complex and unique to the market. Projects that require changing requirements. 


Lean Development


Lean is one of the Agile methodologies that also doesn’t offer a clear “to-do” structure. It simply adds to the concept of dividing a project into small workflow subtasks.

With Lean, each subtask will have its own order of actions, from start to result. At the same time, project subtasks can still be executed in parallel, which is convenient if they differ in complexity. 

Using the example of an online store, while one of the backend teams will connect and configure the database, which is one of the most difficult tasks, designers will already have time to draw all the important interface elements and will be able to start working on less significant ones.

The flexibility of Lean is both its strength and its weakness. Not every sub-task needs the same amount of detail, but if you don’t add it where it’s really needed, the deadlines will definitely stretch. Lean works well where there is really effective management. The task of managers is not only to draw up a universal plan of action but also to establish communication principles that are not described in the method itself.


  • User-centric. The advantages of the Lean approach are the iterations. With the continuously generated feedback, it is user-centric. Conclusions can be drawn quickly about the resilience of the business model to be brought to market.
  • Helps save resources. When the project is complex and the most important task is to save resources as much as possible and collect as much information as possible for further development.


  • Requires disciplined and experienced team 
  • Precise documentation is required



This management method is suitable for startups with changing needs that require fast adaptability of the project. Works best for highly skilled and disciplined teams 


Waterfall Development Methodology


This is a classic model that continues to be actively used today. Its principle of operation is quite simple: each subsequent stage is performed only when the previous one is completely finished. There is a clear division of stages, and the development goes like a cascade, gradually descending from the first stage to the last.

This software development model is quite rigid and has strict rules. It clearly defines the timing of the passage of each stage. But there is also a drawback: it is very difficult to take a step back. Making edits to an existing project is very expensive and problematic. This method is suitable only for projects that are clearly scheduled, there is a complete understanding of what is being created, for what purposes, and what requirements are set.


  • Clear structure: Easy to determine possible errors at an early stage.
  • More manageable: You can minimize overlapping procedures and make necessary adjustments along the way.
  • Set more accurate goals: Waterfall methodology allows you to determine the project’s overall goal.
  • High visibility: Transparency of the development. 
  • Reduced development issues: Testing and quality assurance are done at each phase. 
  • Systematic approach: Robust transfer of information from one phase to another because of its systematic approach.


  • Doesn’t allow room for change. Using this methodology you cannot backtrack to any changing requirements.
  • The client and user are not involved. This methodology applies to internal processes to help the developers in moving forward. It doesn’t encourage the active participation of the client or user.



You can use this approach if there is a detailed prototype or a similar application already developed.


Rapid Application Development


Rapid Application Development (RAD) aims to bring the requested product to market quickly while maintaining its high quality and accurately meeting user and customer requirements.

When working with RAD, the development team rapidly prototypes the application releases it to the public, collects valuable feedback, and refines the prototype. The team repeats the prototyping and presentation steps until the solution satisfies all requirements. The team then develops the entire application based on the improved prototype.

RAD teams focus on collecting user feedback and implementing new features at a fast speed. With this methodology, the main emphasis lies on functionality and user satisfaction, whereas design comes second.


  • Minimized risks associated with the development, release and product promotion. 
  • High Compliance with User Requirements 


  • Dependency on customer feedback 
  • No documentation 
  • Frequent testing and alterations



RAD is best suited for small to medium-sized projects where time is of the essence and budgets are big.


The Prototype


A prototype or a prototypical approach means that at the beginning of the project you work with a greatly reduced set or only with a very specific requirement. An example of this is a click dummy. This prototype makes it possible to simulate processes and to provide the end user with a visualization of the application. It is therefore possible to receive direct feedback from the end user right from the start and to incorporate these requirements directly at the stage of development.

Prototypes can be divided into three categories 

  • low-fidelity — represents the initial design concept and interaction points
  • mid-fidelity — shows interactions and navigation possibilities
  • high-fidelity — a full mockup of functionality and visuals


  • Frequent revisions of risk minimization 
  • Close client communication 
  • Flexibility 


  • Delayed release if the client is not satisfied with the prototype 
  • Requirements are not clearly defined 
  • High development costs



For start-ups that need to test the idea’s viability and determine the necessary tech stack. Serves as an efficient way of fundraising and attracting investors.


Feature Driven Development 


Feature Driven Development  (FDD) is an attempt to combine the most recognized methodologies in software development, taking as a basis the functionality (features) that are important to the customer. The main goal of this methodology is to develop real, working software solutions in a systematic, timely manner.

Like other adaptive methodologies, it focuses on short iterations, each of which serves to work out a certain part of the system’s functionality. According to FDD, one iteration lasts two weeks. FDD has five processes. 

  • General model development
  • Compiling a list of required system features
  • Scheduling work on each feature
  • Designing each feature
  • Construction of each feature 

Using this approach software development is carried out in short iterations, in each of which a new feature is added (useful behaviour from the point of view of the customer). Unlike Agile methodologies, more emphasis is placed on upfront modelling, reporting, and charting. 


  • System properties documentation
  • Careful design
  • Easier to evaluate small tasks
  • Tests are focused on business tasks
  • Elaborate product creation process
  • Short iterative development cycles allow faster feature enhancements and fewer bugs


  • FDD is more suitable for large projects. 
  • Small development teams will not be able to experience all the benefits of this approach.
  • Significant implementation and training costs



More suitable for corporate development and large teams. 


RACI Matrix


Project managers love tools, methods, and checklists. The RACI matrix ensures clarity in everyday project work and avoids misunderstandings. It illustrates which employee is responsible for which work, which expert needs to be asked for their opinion, and who makes decisions in the project.

A RACI, also known as a responsibility-assignment matrix, outlines how individuals with different specializations will participate in tasks such as work phases – discovery, activities – user activity, and deliverables (e.g. designing a prototype). Failing to consider and openly discuss what’s happening in product development and who’s responsible for what is a road to chaos, confusion, the stressful overlap of activities, and other issues.

RACI is an abbreviation formed from the first letters of the following words

  • Responsible: The person is responsible for the successful completion of an activity. To avoid misunderstandings, this role is assigned to one person. Accountability is essential for an organization and team. Without it, it’s difficult to get people to take ownership and get things done. In some cases, the accountable person is also responsible for completing the work or deliverables. 
  • Accountable: The holder of this role has the responsibility for the result. They approve the tasks and ensure that the result meets the requirements. 
  • Consulting: This person is not directly involved in the execution of the work. However, before a project starts or a decision is made, their opinion should be sought. The Consulting role can be delegated to multiple people.
  • Information: The owner or owners (this role can also be delegated to several people) of the topic holds knowledge and information about the project. Like the responsible and consulted roles, many roles are often kept informed, stakeholders, leadership team, and other product teams who may be impacted.


  • Product owners
  • Engineers
  • Product managers
  • Business analysts
  • Scrum masters


  • Whether it’s an innovation or investment project with a small, medium or large budget, the RACI matrix can be used regardless of the industry, task, complexity, and time frame.
  • By showing the responsibilities, the project manager avoids misunderstandings. Every actor in the project is aware of his role and knows what he has to do.
  • The distribution of responsibilities avoids that several people take care of the same work or feel responsible.
  • If important work is left undone or decisions are not made, the project manager knows who to contact. In retrospect, nobody can excuse themselves for not having been involved or informed.
  • The RACI matrix is ​​a useful tool to identify stakeholders. The project manager can address those responsible directly and ask for support in achieving the result.




All software development methods serve a common goal to ensure that workflow goes according to plan and is completed on time. The choice of only one methodology or approach does not guarantee the successful completion of the project. The customer must take into account various aspects of the product when choosing one or another type of development. Sometimes combining different approaches works best to achieve the desired results. Each of the listed methodologies has its purpose and scope. It takes an experienced software provider to choose a perfectly fitting software technology stack and project management approach.