Software Development Life Cycle Models

5 min readAug 11, 2020


Software development life cycle models provide ways to navigate through the complicated process of software development. A project’s time frames, budget, quality and ability to meet clients’ expectations depend on the selected software development model.

There are 50+ recognized SDLC models, but every model is not perfect. Each model has both advantages and disadvantages for the development of specific software. With our decade long experience in software development, we have selected some of the most popular software development models that you can compare and select the right model based on your project requirements.

Here are some of the best Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC) models:

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1.Waterfall Model
Waterfall Model is one of the oldest and simplest software development methodologies. It moves in a cascade mode, i.e., finish one phase and then move to the next one. Each stage in the waterfall model has some concrete deliverable and is properly documented. It follows a top to bottom approach, for example, the software development project using waterfall model navigates in chronological order.

Firstly, the project’s requirement analysis is done, then designs are created. Once the designs are ready, the project goes into the implementation stage where the coding is done. Then, developers test the software and it is deployed to the public network. Maintenance of software is done post the deployment.

The waterfall model is viable for small to mid-sized projects with unchanging and clearly defined requirements. But make sure that there are no early delays as it can throw off the entire project timeline. Because revisions are impossible once a stage is completed, problems cannot be resolved until you reach the maintenance phase. It is not an ideal model for you if you need flexibility within the project or if you have a long-term project.

2. Incremental and Iterative Model
The software development process based on the incremental model is classified into various iterations. Each iteration has new software modules with no or little change in previously added modules. The development process either goes parallelly or sequentially.

Parallel development can improve the speed of delivery while repeated cycles of sequential development make the project expensive and long.

Since the software is developed and delivered in parts, you don’t need a full specification from the beginning of a project and minor changes to the requirements can be made in the course of the development process. But you cannot change the project requirements radically and major changes should be defined in the beginning of the project.

This model significantly requires customer involvement because of the small amendments in requirements during the development process. It is useful for building mission-critical and large enterprise apps that consist of loosely coupled components, for example, web services or microservices.

3. V-Shaped Model
Also called as the validation and verification model, the V-shaped model came out of the waterfall model and is defined by a corresponding testing phase for each development stage. Similar to the waterfall model, each stage of a V-shaped model starts only when the previous one is completed.

It is extremely useful when you have clearly defined requirements as it is difficult to go back and make updates.

4. Spiral Model
The Spiral Model is one of the most flexible Software Development Methodologies that passes through 4 phases again and again in a spiral until finished, providing multiple rounds of refinement.

It is used for developing a highly customized product and incorporates user feedback from early on in the project. The model keeps focusing on a thorough risk assessment. To leverage all the benefits of the spiral model, you should engage people with a strong background in risk evaluation.

A Spiral Iteration goes for around 6 months and begins with four essential activities — thorough planning, risk analysis, prototype design and evaluation of the last delivered part. It is useful for projects with unclear requirements and that are large and complex.

5. Rational Unified Process
The Rational Unified Process is a combination of iterative and linear frameworks. The model classifies the software development process into four stages — inception, elaboration, construction and transition. All the fundamental activities of the development process are performed in parallel across these 4 stages but with different intensity.

It helps to develop stable and flexible solutions but it not as adaptable and quick when compared to the Agile group. The degree of documentation intensity, iteration length and customer involvement can vary depending on the project requirements.

It is useful for building high-risk and large projects, especially use-case based projects.

6. Agile Software development
By classifying the product into cycles, the agile model delivers a working project and is one of the realistic development approaches. The model delivers ongoing releases, each one with small incremental changes from the previous release.

The product is tested at each iteration. Each iteration takes a few weeks and delivers a complete working version of the software. The agile model focuses on delivering a functioning part of the app quickly. Using the agile model, developers have to pay more attention to software testing activities instead of software documentation.

Agile is about working in close collaboration both with the customers and across the team. At the completion of each iteration, stakeholders examine the development progress and re-assign the priority of tasks for the future to improve ROI and ensure alignment with business goals and user requirements.

It is useful for any startup initiatives where you need end-users’ early feedback. It can be implemented for developing mid-sized projects where business requirements cannot be translated into detailed software requirements. You can also use agile to build large projects that can easily be classified into small functional parts and can be built incrementally over each iteration.

All of the above software development life cycle models provide a unique process for the different project challenges you will come across in your business. Selecting the right method depends not only on the expected outcome but the factors due to which the project is executed. Or, get in touch with a software development company who can help you select the right methodology for your business use case.




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