A Fresh Take on 5 Software Development Methodologies

13 SEP 2016
12 MIN


As you may know, the project development starts off with choosing an appropriate software development methodology. So, how do you decide which methodology fits your project needs best? This is actually why we are all here. In today's topic, we are going to discuss 5 different developmental philosophies to find out the most effective one to build your product. So if you happen to be on the verge of running your first digital product, put all your current activities on pause, and plunge into this article, because something tells me that you're going to find it very useful

What is the Best Software Development Methodology for Your Project?

What does software development methodology mean?

You can call it software development methodology, or system development methodology, or even a software development process, but it will always mean the same thing -- splitting software and building work into different stages with certain activities for the purpose of more effective planning and management.

Usually, the methodology may include the pre-definition of certain deliverables and artifacts created and then completed by a project team to develop or maintain an application. Each methodology may have it's own artifacts whereas each company of a software development team may define it's own deliverables. However, there is one thing that remains unchanged in most cases for different processes, software building companies, and project teams. It is software development stages.

So what are these stages? Well, they are requirements, design, implementation, testing, debugging, deployment, and maintenance. Although I said that the stages almost always stay the same for different methodologies, it doesn't negate the fact that their order can vary (the one given above), lay one over another, or, sometimes, be all mixed up. This is actually where one methodology may differ from another.

Wanna know more about software development process? Here you go! How We Create Software: Development Process at Cleveroad

There are numerous software development methodologies such as Waterfall, Cleanroom, Rapid Application Development (RAD), Team Software Process (TSP), Personal Software Process, Scrum, Kanban, Extreme Programming (XP), and dozens of other iterative and agile software development approaches. I think it goes without saying that each of them has found it's own fans and haters (pardon me for such a rough comparison) among developers. That's because there isn't a software development methodology that can be universal for every projects. Yes, the world of software development is as inconsistent as life :)

Of course, being involved in software development ourselves, we formed our own opinion regarding the efficiency of one methodology or another. Since then we've prepared the list of 5 software development frameworks that we use most of the time. And, I should say, these proved to be the best ones when it comes to mobile and web solutions development. So let us share some of our experience and observations with you...

Waterfall aka Traditional Methodology

It's rather a software development model than a methodology -- however, Waterfall can be easily placed in a row with other software building frameworks.

The waterfall methodology or traditional methodology is a software development process flowing steadily downwards through the stages of "conception, initiation, analysis, design, construction, testing, production, and maintenance".

Waterfall has it's roots in manufacturing and construction industries, where after-the-fact changes were very costly and sometimes even impossible. Just because no formal methodology existed at the time, it then was applied to software development.

Waterfall app development methodology

Waterfall methodology for software development


Although one may call the waterfall methodology obsolete, it's still widely used among developers. In which cases? Well, when it comes to the development of lightweight projects with clear and stable requirements. For example, a small application that needs as little as 100 hours for implementation and clear-cut instructions as for how to do it.

Here we can concentrate purely on the development process and product quality, without wasting time on secondary organizational activities which are usually associated with a huge workload and constantly changing requirements, such as backlogs, meetings, and endless paperwork.

So with Waterfall applied to a small project, everything goes accordingly: we plan, we gather requirements, we work out software architecture, and we build software. Then we test and debug a product, and, finally, deploy. No fuss or need for jumping from one task to another.


Speaking of wasting time. As you may have heard, time is money. So even in case something goes wrong (and I hope it won't), we can always step back to make minor corrections to your requirements, agenda, product, whatever, without a huge financial loss. We can always include several additional hours for such purposes as far back as the planning stage.

The waterfall methodology may be equally convenient and cost-effective when your are not going to build such a heavy application with well-defined requirements which are not likely to change in the process of development.


Scrum is the complete opposite of Waterfall. It's a flexible iterative development strategy which suits huge and heavy projects perfectly. Here, a project team works as an organic whole to reach a common goal.

The Scrum's keynote is that the problem can't be fully understood and defined out of the gate. Thus, Scrum adopts the empirical approach focusing mostly on the project team's ability to react very quickly to changing requirements. That's why Scrum is the most obvious example of an agile software development model.

Scrum methodology for app development

Scrum methodology for software development process


Scrum is just perfect for the projects requiring more than 300 hours for development. The workflow is organized in a way that top-priority tasks (product backlog) are implemented first. Thus, we can build a frame of our future product (we call it a minimum viable product) which can be reworked and perfected endlessly. 

Being a prototype of iterative software development methodology, Scrum has a very iteration-like approach to development. However, Scrum's iterations, which are called sprints, by the way, are much shorter than those of RUP or MWM and may last around 2-4 weeks.

Stop for a moment to read about Agile. I'll wait for you. What Is Agile Methodology For Mobile Development?

So what happens? First, our customer defines the most essential product features which are called the product backlog. Then we need to pick the first set of features for the upcoming sprint. This set is usually called the sprint backlog. Later this sprint backlog will be expanded by team members for a 4-week long iteration.

You should also know that at by the end of each sprint, you will see visible results of our work (demo). Anyway, you are free to take part in daily (or weekly) scrum meetings to make sure that we move in a the right direction.

The most interesting thing about Scrum is that the encouragement of verbal communication between all team members (including you) and between all third parties involved in a project helps along the creation of self-organized teams, which (as you already know) work to deliver the best end-result.


Taking into account that Scrum allows changes to a product's requirements even at terminal stages of development, it may save you money; in this case, you won't need to go through all the preceding stages again.

Scrum is a the right choice for heavyweight projects (300+ hours) with unclear requirements and constantly emerging changes to a plan.


Kanban is one more example of agile methodology. However, it differs a lot from Scrum.

The main idea of Kanban is not to overload team members by giving them more space in terms of time. So here the main priority is given to milestones rather than velocity. And, of course, the progress here is visual, illustrating each stage of work.

Kanban methodology for app development

A typical Kanban board

Kanban methodology for app development


In Kanban, the team is only focused on the work which is currently in progress. Once the team is finished with one task, it picks up another from the top of the backlog. Again, the product owner (client or his representative) can easily re-prioritize the tasks on the backlog without distracting the team, because any outside changes that have no connection to the current task have no impact on the team as well.

In other words, as long as the product owner keeps the most prioritized tasks on top, the project team delivers maximum profit to his business.

Cycle time is a key metric in Kanban. Cycle time is the amount of time needed for a unit of work to pass through the workflow of the team. That's to say, from the moment it's initiated to the moment it's shipped. By optimizing this time, the team can make predictions as to when it's going to deliver the end-product. So Kanban is all about the constant improvement of the way the project team works.


Thus, Kanban is a very flexible, agile software building methodology which is as loyal to the rapidly changing requirements as Scrum, and it doesn't involve any delays or "flashbacks" to the development process. Therefore, it doesn't involve excessive money loss. 

As all the tasks here are performed on demand, there isn't a need for many people for a project. Furthermore, you can cut back on your expenses because, as you already know, there is no planning in Kanban. So this methodology may seem more attractive to your pocketbook at first glance. However, a huge workload may significantly prolong the development time, which means more expenses and a delayed release date. The good thing is, you can avoid all these troubles by hiring a highly professional team that has practical experience working with Kanban. Just because they are realistic about their abilities.

BTW, do you know how important a project specification is for software development? It's time to learn: Why You Need a Great Specification for Your Project

Kanban is as good for complex projects with rapidly emerging changes to requirements as Scrum, but unlike Scrum, Kanban tries to concentrate on the team's productivity better.

Kanban can be really cost-saving if you have an experienced team for your project. Although, the absence of any planning can negatively affect the development flow in case you decides to use strategy without any background.


As you may see from the name, Scrumban is a combination of the two previous philosophies. Some teams try to blend the ideas from these two to achieve maximum efficiency, such as the fixed length iterations and roles from Scrum, and cycle time with the focus on the work in progress from Kanban.

Scrumban app development methodology

Scrumban methodology for software development process


Having the best of Scrum and Kanban (or just getting rid of the worst), Scrumban has it's own advantages over other methodologies. For example, there is minimal planning, which doesn't take place in Kanban at all. It expands tasks for sprints, which, as you can see, takes place here. 

Second, there is an estimation of the team members, and teamwork in general. Not only does this accelerate the development process, but also makes a separate team member self-organize to catch up to the others. In other words, teamworking is very important when it comes to delivering a good-quality app.

Third, there are little daily meetings that allow the team to find emerging problems immediately. Thus, you have an opportunity to build a stable and almost bug-free product from the very beginning.

And forth, there is a retrospective practice in Scrumban which was borrowed from Scrum. Applying it allows you to learn from your mistakes and achievements. Thus, you will know for sure what to do or not to do next time.

Before you proceed, check out this information: Types of Contracts in Outsourcing: How to Make a Wise Decision


It's a fact that Scrumban can be a bit more expensive than Kanban. That's because here we deal with minimal planning, which, in part, requires some additional time and money. 
On the other hand, this methodology will be cheaper compared to a 'clear' Scrum, because iterations here are much shorter and the development process may flow more quickly. 

Sometimes a combination of two good methodologies can be an optimal choice for your complex project.


Extreme programming is yet another software development methodology intended to develop a high-quality software in an unstable environment. The methodology got it's name because of all the beneficial practices from traditional software development are taken to an extreme level. Thus, we have twice as many code reviews and unit testings, and many more human resources to provide the pair-coding.

Scrumban app development methodology

Extreme Programming: Core Practices


With this approach, chances are we will get a clear and stable product in the end. Moreover, besides the pair-coding practice, extensive code review, and unit testing, the main idea of XP is to avoid programming features unless they are actually needed. Also, the methodology expects changes to requirements in the future, so problems are understood better. Just like Scrum, XP is also about constant communication between team members.


Although the main goal of XP is to lower the cost of change to requirements, it isn't thought to be very cost-effective. That's to say, the activities like code review and unit testing prolong the development time significantly. At the same time, you will need twice as many specialists to carry out the notorious coding in pairs. 

XP is undeniably great for complex solutions. However, the development may cost you a fortune, considering the fact that this methodology takes more time to develop software and involves the a whole army of developers to implement it's specific practices.

OK, now you know the approaches that we prefer when developing web and mobile products. Of course, it took years of practice to define which methodology may deliver the best possible result. We want you to know that we will always help you define the complexity of your future project and find the most effective methodology for it. So, I guess now it's high time to proceed from dreaming to a real action. Let's build your first application together!

Frequently Asked Questions

Software development methodology means splitting software and building work into different stages with certain activities for the purpose of more effective planning and management.

Usually, the methodology may include the pre-definition of certain deliverables and artifacts created and then completed by a project team to develop or maintain an application. Each methodology may have it's own artifacts whereas each company of a software development team may define it's own deliverables

Usually, Google's developers use agile methodology. However, some of them may use XP or Scrum. It depends on the task and teams' preferences.

To choose a software development methodology you should know the peculiarities of each approach and clearly define the goal of your project. When you have strict requirements for your project it'll be easier to figure out the methodology you need. To know more about all popular software development methodologies check our guide.

There are a lot of software development methodologies used by different programmers. Even you can create your own methodology that will boost your software development process. However, if we're talking about the most popular approaches, there are five of them:

  • Waterfall
  • Scrum
  • Kanban
  • Scrumban
  • XP

Two most common software development methodologies are Waterfall and Agile.

Software development methodologies help programmers deliver the software product faster. With the help of different approaches they can distribute the tasks equally, define key features that should be built primarily, and build them faster.

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