Software Development Cycles: Which Model Works Best?

The acronym SDLC has become so ubiquitous it’s impossible to ignore it if you have at least something to do with software development. The words behind it, software development life cycle, suggest that you should approach the development process like a living being that comes to the world, matures, and finally comes to an end.

Is it always this linear and straightforward, though? The number of cryptic terms surrounding this acronym suggests there are still questions that have yet to be answered.

  • Why does one software development company with years of experience in the highly competitive market spread Agile values while others stick to the Waterfall model?
  • Is there a way to develop software with no process at all?
  • How to choose a methodology that will work for you?

This article explains the variety of SDLC methodologies and provides the answers to all the above questions.

Waterfall Development

The Waterfall model is most likely when you think about when you try to imagine a structured software development cycle. It’s linear and sequential. That is, it consists of a number of consecutive stages that don’t overlap. The next stage isn’t going to begin until the current one is finished.

Everything begins with requirement analysis. This is the first step that might sound obvious but is, in fact, so crucial to overall success it can’t be overestimated. When all the requirements are clear, it’s time to start designing the system. Then, implementation follows. As soon as the system is ready, it’s tested to ensure appropriate quality, after which it can be launched via the deployment process. This is the last but one stage, followed only by maintenance aimed at keeping the system up-to-date.

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The Waterfall methodology offers the advantage of rigid planning and management, on the flipside of which there’s a lack of flexibility that the team might need to deal with requirement and priority changes post requirement clarification. This rigidity is the key reason why Waterfall has been losing its popularity.

The V-Shaped Methodology

The V-Model is a variation of the Waterfall methodology, which means it’s a set of sequential stages. However, it adopts a more thorough approach to quality assurance by introducing a testing session at the end of each stage.

This large-to-small methodology relies heavily on verification as validation and works well for relatively simple projects. However, it’s not the most efficient methodology when it comes to dealing with complexity, concurrent events, and iterations.


It would be inaccurate to designate Agile as an SDLC methodology. Rather, it’s a set of approaches that share a common characteristic that gave it its name. In the context of software development, agility refers to the model being flexible enough to adjust to requirement alterations on the go.


A lot of people use the terms “Agile” and “Scrum” interchangeably. This is far from correct but reflects the popularity of Scrum as a member of the Agile family.

Simply put, Scrum is an iterative framework that comes with a small set of roles and time-boxed ceremonies that enable its three pillars, which are transparency, inspection, and adaptation. Each iteration, or sprint, delivers an increment to the product’s value that’s been previously agreed on, which leaves enough room for change in between sprints.


An even less structured model compared to Scrum, Kanban refers to the practice of limiting the amount of work in progress using a visual radiator that shows the status of each task. Unlike Scrum, Kanban doesn’t imply iterations and is more often used for maintenance.

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The Big Bang Model

This methodology is exactly what it sounds like, i.e. no methodology at all. Its use is limited to tiny projects involving one to two developers, who are supposed to deal with requirements and change as they arise. While being helpful at reducing costs and complexity, it’s unlikely to work for more serious projects.

Which Methodology is Right for You?

Which SDLC model to choose depends on the goals you are pursuing, your budget, timeline, and resources. It’s safe to say, however, that Agile methodologies are currently dominating the market, and for a good reason: they are flexible, lightweight, and easy to follow.

Which methodology are you interested in? You are most welcome to leave a reply and share your thoughts.


Rose is a technology enthusiast and a writer. She had the interest to write articles related to technology, software, Mobiles, Gadgets and many more.

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