Top 7 Software Development Methodologies With Pros and Cons [2024]

by Sandra Petrova

9 min read

Are you a manager of a development team that’s looking to add structure to the project workflow? To manage projects successfully, you need to choose a software development methodology that will provide smooth development according to your project requirements.

Luckily, there are several methodologies you can choose from. To help you decide which one fits your project needs best, here’s an overview of the 7 most widely used methodologies for software engineering. Examine them more closely in order to choose the one that will align with your team size, goals, and preferences. 

Waterfall Development

Let’s imagine the following scenario:

You’re leading a team of freelance Node.js developers who are building a platform for retrospective meetings. But you're unsure which development method is right for you and your team.

In short, choosing to go with the Waterfall methodology will mean creating separate focus teams.

These teams will work on different sequential stages (requirements, design, implementation, verification, deployment, and maintenance). 

You’ll be following a traditional development method that relies on a rigid linear model. Each of the stages must be 100% complete before the next stage can start. Just like a waterfall fills lower-level pools, the stages of the Waterfall model flow from one to another. Meaning, the method doesn’t allow for going back to modify the project or direction.


  • The model is easy to understand and manage.
  • The method is suitable for projects that are smaller in size and whose requirements can be definitely determined upfront. 
  • The Waterfall development is recommended for less experienced project managers and project teams whose composition changes frequently.


  • The Waterfall method finishes one stage before the next one can begin. So, it’s impossible to go back and edit something. 
  • It’s not flexible and doesn’t handle project risks well. 
  • It’s not a good model for complex and long-term projects.
Waterfall Software Development Methodology

Agile Software Development

If you’re looking for a development methodology that will help you cope with the turbulent customer-driven marketplace, then you should seriously consider adopting the Agile development methodology.

Today, we can see the Agile methodologies spreading like wildfire in all types of organizations. It’s a method that can help you develop your product more timely and productively. Unlike the Waterfall approach which is highly linear, the Agile method proposes flexibility and a team-based development approach.

It divides work into separate phases called sprints. Each sprint lasts for a few weeks during which team members are following a list of deliverables. When the sprint ends, the team reviews the work, together with the Scrum master.


  • The method improves efficiency by finding and fixing defects. It leads to accelerated software delivery and enhanced software quality.
  • Large teams can effectively cooperate together and maintain transparency.
  • A decrease in critical and major defects, no more overtime, and a product delivered on time.


  • It’s not suited for inexperienced developers. Your team should consist of skilled, senior developers. 
  • Team members will require extensive training to understand the model and ensure project success.
  • There must be constant interaction between testers, customers, and developers. This can be time-consuming and overwhelming.
  • Documentation is less detailed. Meaning, when new members join the team, they won’t know how they need to perform. This can create difficulties and misunderstandings. 

DevOps Methodology

Maybe you’re the founder of a tech startup that’s on the lookout for a more rapid way to deliver software. Or a project manager that’s after a set of practices for testing software more reliably. If any of the two scenarios is true, then DevOps might be what your business needs.

In a nutshell, DevOps is a method for improved collaboration and tighter integration. It’s a practice that automates the processes between software development and IT teams. 

Traditionally, people who wrote the code didn’t collaborate with the people who deployed that code. Developers and operations professionals had different objectives and worked on different floors or even buildings. What makes DevOps so brilliant is that it brings the two teams together. 

Thanks to the collaboration between developers and operations professionals, the software can be tested faster and more reliably. 


  • Businesses can deploy new processes, systems, and applications more rapidly.
  • As teams are working closely together, there’ll be less room for mistakes and more time for quality assurance and speed delivery.
  • When your business delivers high-quality systems faster, it improves the customer experience.


  • You may find it hard to hire skilled DevOps specialists with hands-on experience.
  • The method requires human interaction, which can slow down the delivery pipeline.
DevOps Methodology

Rapid Application Development (RAD)

If your business objectives are well-defined and narrow, then the Rapid Application Development Methodology (RAD) is something you might want to implement. 

The RAD approach came out of the need to deliver applications in a very short amount of time. In a nutshell, it’s a high-speed adaptation of the linear sequential model that we saw with the Waterfall method. Here, rapid development is achieved by using component-based construction. 

Multiple teams will be working on different components, including 

  • requirements planning
  • user design
  • construction
  • cutover

There's high user involvement. Until the user approves that all the requirements are met, the user design and construction stages can be repeated. 


  • The RAD Method is especially useful for small to medium size projects that are time sensitive.
  • It’s a great methodology if your business objectives are clearly defined.
  • The model encourages feedback from customers for improvement. 


  • You’ll need highly experienced software developers to handle all the complexities.
  • It’s not applicable for projects with low budgets as the cost of modeling and automated code generation is very high. 
Rapid Application Development Methodology

Lean Development

Looking to develop your software in one-third of the time with a very limited budget? Look to Lean! 

Across industries, the Lean model is used to reduce development costs, improve quality, increase productivity, and improve customer satisfaction. In short, Lean development is the application of Lean principles to development. It has 7 main principles, including: 

  1. Focus on what the customer wants. Get rid of anything that doesn’t add value to the customer.
  2. Build quality using Lean development tools like pair computer programming and test-driven development.
  3. Create knowledge. Encourage the software development team to properly document and retain valuable learning. This can be done through code reviews, documentation, wiki, and knowledge sharing sessions. 
  4. Continuously collect information, rather than make decisions without the necessary data.
  5. Deliver to the customer as quickly as possible.
  6. Respect your employees. Encourage them to communicate proactively and effectively, and empower them to do their best work.
  7. Optimize your value streams to deliver as much value to your customers as quickly as possible.


  • The early elimination of waste speeds up the development process and reduces costs.
  • Delivering a high-quality product on time leads to increased customer satisfaction.
  • By empowering the team to be part of the decision-making process, you’re motivating them to do their best work possible.


  • The method is team-dependent. Meaning, you’ll need to put together an excellent team with exceptional skill sets.
  • Lean development requires detailed documentation. If any area of the development process is poorly documented, it can be underdeveloped or developed incorrectly.
Lean Software Development Methodology

Dynamic System Development

If you’re frustrated by costly, rigid and unreliable software development practices, it’s worth a shot looking at the Dynamic System Development Model Methodology. 

The Dynamic System Development Model Methodology is derived from the rapid application development methodology. It was created out of the need to make projects more responsive and to deliver them on time and on budget. It relies heavily on documentation and has the best-supported documentation of any of the agile development techniques. 

The model focuses on:

  • The involvement of the user.
  • Empowering teams to make decisions.
  • Integrated testing throughout the development cycle.
  • Collaboration between all stakeholders.
  • Reversible changes during development.


  • The model provides easy access to end-users by developers.
  • Projects are delivered on time and on budget.
  • It has detailed documentation. 


  • The method is expensive to implement.
  • It’s not suitable for smaller companies.
Dynamic System Development Methodology

Feature-Driven Development

The Feature-Driven Development method is worth implementing if you’re working with a larger team. Its model allows for faster development and timely delivery. FDD is a mix of several industry-recognized best practices that focus on customer value. 

New features are released in an incremental fashion. In this way, developers manage to prioritize client requests and respond to client requests in a timely manner. To keep clients satisfied, developers calculate what features they can create. Then, they break complex requests into smaller feature sets and put together a plan for how to reach each goal on time. 


  • The method allows for more rapid development.
  • Larger teams can move products forward with repeatable success. 
  • It follows industry-recognized best practices. 


  • It’s not suitable for smaller projects.
  • It comes with less written documentation, which can lead to misunderstandings. 
  • The method is highly dependent on lead developers.
Feature-Driven Development


Software development methods are a vital part of any development project. We only mentioned seven of the best, but there are several other methods to consider, such as Extreme Programming and Object Oriented Development (OOD). Selecting the most suitable model for your project can ensure success, timely delivery, and client satisfaction. There are certain pros and cons associated with each of them, so your choice should depend on the nature of your project. Take your time to go through the different methods and decide which is right for your team.


Q: What are the different software development methodologies?
The 7 most widely used methodologies for software engineering include:
  • Waterfall Software Development
  • Agile Software Development
  • DevOps Methodology
  • Rapid Application Development (RAD)
  • Lean Software Development
  • Dynamic System Development
  • Feature-Driven Development
Q: What is the best software development methodology?
Each software development methodology comes with a set of pros and cons. The best one for your project depends on your team size, goals, and preferences. For example, Waterfall is the most rigid and traditional method, while Agile is designed to accommodate the need to produce software faster.
Q: What is Lean methodology for software development?
The Lean model is used to reduce development costs, improve quality, increase productivity, and improve customer satisfaction. It has 5 main principles that include:
  1. Eliminate Waste.
  2. Build Quality In.
  3. Create Knowledge.
  4. Defer Commitment.
  5. Deliver Fast.
  6. Respect People.
  7. Optimize the Whole.
Q: What is Agile methodology in simple words?
The Agile methodology is a method that can help you develop your product more timely and productively. Unlike the Waterfall approach which is highly linear, the Agile method proposes flexibility and a team-based development approach.
Sandra Petrova
Sandra Petrova
Senior Content Editor

Sandra is a Senior Content Editor, particularly interested in the future of work. Her most valuable talent is searching under every rock to discover valuable information and incorporate it into well-written and insightful posts. When she's not typing in Google Docs, you can find her reading a fantasy novel, binging on Netflix, or watering her plants.

Ready to start?

Get in touch or schedule a call.