Successful software development relies on three key things: talent, tools, and management. Each one is equally important, and for sure, your project definitely won’t succeed without the last one. What’s more, the management course of a project is strongly influenced by the product development methodology it implements. This methodology lays the foundation for how engineers, testers, managers, and other stakeholders interact throughout the software development lifecycle.
According to PMI’s 2020 Pulse of the Profession Survey, on average, 11.4% of a project investment is lost due to poor performance. Understanding what a product development methodology is and its value is the first step towards better management.
Next comes knowing the differences. The most popular linear (Waterfall) and iterative (Agile) methodologies both have advantages and shortcomings. If you want to improve your productivity and success rate, you need to know when and how to use them. And finally, you need to know how to implement DevOps practices, including all trending and needed Ops, like DevSecOps,SysOps,AIOps, ITOps and DataOps, etc., practices into your process.
Keep reading to dive deeper into linear and iterative development models and some key advantages of different software development methodologies and their impact on business.
But first, back to basics.
The product development process is a set of workflows and tools for streamlining software manufacturing. The different steps of product development cover the product’s lifecycle and act as a backbone for its direction and collaboration between teams.
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A product development methodology determines how the steps of the production process flow into each other. For example, the Agile methodology approach is about finishing a project in iterations with continuously changing requirements, while Waterfall development is about moving through a series of linear steps.
The software development phases are standard for the industry, while their order and priority vary based on the product development methodology being used.
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The basic steps in the product development lifecycle are as follows:
Every product development strategy framework has a clear purpose—to help you use resources effectively in order to deliver a high-quality outcome as fast as possible.
Companies shouldn’t rely solely on a team’s skills and technology. It’s crucial to create strong project management to leverage these resources. According to PMI’s 2019 The Future of Work survey, poor performance caused by mismanagement accounts for about 12% of wasted investments. Another PMI report suggests that a software product development company with a refined project management methodology uses 28% fewer resources for development.
To sum it all up, the right methodology can bring several benefits to your software projects:
But what defines the right product development process? It depends on your business goals and the project requirements.
Now it’s time to look at different software development methodologies. We’ll walk you through the main methods, describe their differences, and talk about their advantages and shortcomings.
Waterfall development is a sequential method of software development. In this model, the product development process steps flow downward in a linear direction. Every phase has a distinct goal that must be 100% complete before the next one begins; for example, the coding phase will start only after the design is set in stone.
Waterfall development is the traditional management model, meaning that for many managers it’s the easiest to implement. Nevertheless, it has a significant downside—the lack of flexibility. The design constraints are fixed and the framework doesn’t allow for customer feedback into the product design development process.
With the Waterfall methodology, returning to previous stages is extremely expensive and time-consuming. Consequently, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to modify a Waterfall project’s direction even if your team identifies critical design flaws during testing.
Agile is a group of iterative methodologies which emphasize self-organization and cross-functionality. In contrast to the Waterfall model, the phases don’t flow into one another. Instead, the development happens in smaller cycles or iterations.
An iteration consists of several stages of development. After the requirements gathering plus architecture design and coding, the testing team evaluates the outcomes. This allows developers to modify the product in new iterations using data from the previous cycle.
Agile practices are commonly linked to higher developer productivity. Indeed, 58% of respondents to the 14th Annual State of Agile Report cited increased team productivity as one of the tangible benefits of the Agile approach.
Implementing Agile requires dedication and excellent communication skills. Inexperienced managers can find Agile a significant challenge and it’s very easy to do it wrong. Moreover, since product requirements are continually shifting, there are no clear design documents to guide the team.
The Agile approach has many different branches. The most popular ones are:
The 14th Annual State of Agile Report reflects that Scrum is the most widely used Agile framework, while SAFe® continues to be one of the best scalable frameworks for just over a third of IT companies.
Hybrid is a relatively new product development process that combines the best of Waterfall methodology and Agile methodology. A Hybrid project consists of linear phases that are broken into sprints. These sprints are longer than those in Scrum and can last from one to several months.
As in Agile, the outcome of a sprint directs the next iteration of development. The Hybrid methodology also allows teams to work on different phases simultaneously.
Implementing Hybrid requires thorough planning and some compromise. You have to find the right balance between linear and iterative approaches, and that’s impossible without sacrificing some of Agile’s advantages. Nonetheless, with enough experimenting, the increase in productivity can be impressive.
DevOps is a set of practices that improve collaboration between development and operation teams. It centers around manual process automation and continuous feedback at all stages of a project’s lifecycle.
The benefits of DevOps are substantial. According to a 2018 report on the state of DevOps, 59% of IT companies felt that DevOps led to significant productivity improvements, while 69% stated that the practice accelerated product deployment.
DevOps can help with data management, which is a potential obstacle to development. Companies that want to help their teams process data flows can do this with DataOps; a subset of DevOps for optimizing the data processing of a continuous development pipeline.
And, let’s not forget that this data must be protected. Cybersecurity isn’t just essential in an operating environment as it also needs to be part of the software development process.
This is where DevSecOps comes in. The rationale for incorporating security at the development stage is simple: sooner or later, hackers will discover a vulnerability in your system and exploit it. However, addressing security aspects from the start allows you to react to breaches faster, thus minimizing the damage.
In a nutshell, there’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all development methodology because no two companies or business models are identical. When choosing the framework for a project, you should consider:
If you’re considering using a new methodology for software development, you can experiment with linear and iterative approaches to pinpoint what adds the most value to your workflow. Or even better—you can ask experts to help you.
Avenga is an IT outsourcing partner committed to helping visionary companies thrive in the digital era with practical outcomes. Our professionals can help you implement DevOps practices, find an optimum product development methodology, or take care of your entire project lifecycle.