Top 5 Software Development Models You Should Know

Software development is one of the fastest-growing industries in today's business world. Thousands of new apps, websites, and platforms are released every day, and more and more new technologies are entering the market to make the job of software engineers easier. Such a fickle and ever-changing process requires certain boundaries to keep it under control and adhere to a specific vision. This is where software development models come into play.

These rules, approaches, and methods allow development teams to organize workflows, clarify goals, make project estimates, and polish the perfect solution. This article will describe the most common SDLC models, their pros and cons, and tips for choosing the most appropriate model for your team.

What Are Software Development Models?

Before answering this question, let's start with a definition of SDLC. The software development life cycle, or SDLC, is creating and maintaining a software product. It usually includes several essential steps that take you from an idea to a fully functional solution:

  • Planning


  • Prototyping and design


  • Development


  • Quality assurance


  • Launch


  • Maintenance

Software development models can be defined as ways to organize and formalize these stages. Each company chooses the model best suits its work style and corporate culture. The choice also depends on factors such as when testing begins, what features are included in the first version, and when a presentation can be made.

In addition, one company may use different models for different projects. It will all depend on requirements, budget and timing.


Top 5 Types of SDLC

Now let's get to the central part. There are several software development models an organization can choose from; some are more popular than others. Here are the five most common types of models that software engineers prefer in their practice.



Agile is not one but a whole group of models in software engineering based on iterative development and early feedback. Here, developers pay more attention to continuous testing, which is done early in the project. This improves code quality but can lead to more complicated maintenance work.

12 basic Agile principles are described in the Agile Manifesto:


  • Meeting customer needs through early and continuous delivery


  • Welcoming changing requirements even in the late stages of development


  • Frequent delivery


  • Daily collaboration between business people and developers throughout the project


  • Building projects around motivated people


  • Face-to-face communication within the team


  • Working software is a crucial indicator of progress


  • Sustainable development


  • Increased agility through an ongoing focus on technical excellence and good design


  • Simplicity


  • Self-organizing teams

So, the main focus of Agile methodology is high-quality code, early testing, and simple design. In addition, Agile pays the utmost attention to communication between the client and the software development team. When an iteration is complete, business owners analyze progress and plan the next with the team.




Waterfall is another common approach to the software development process (and probably the oldest). The stages in Waterfall are strictly defined: The next stage cannot begin unless the previous one is finished. And by "finished," we mean that all processes and documentation must be fully completed. All of this material will become the baseline for the next phase of development. Waterfall comes with significant risks because there is no way to see the final version of the product until the very last stage is completed.

It is usually used for small projects with precise requirements that are unlikely to change and a proven technology stack. This model is also suitable for projects that must follow many regulations and require more control over the processes.

Incremental (Iterative) Model

The incremental model works with short iterations based on small sets of requirements. Each iteration's result is a product version that can then be reviewed to see what next steps to take. Subsequent iterations are planned according to the new requirements.

If the Waterfall requires the previous steps to be fully completed to move forward, the iterative model allows for multiple iterations simultaneously. This development model will help you test your product at each stage and adjust your strategy if necessary.

The V Model

Another name for this model is Validation and Verification. It is derived from the Waterfall model, but in this version, testing is applied at every stage of development. Depending on your project's stage, you need to do a specific type of testing. The list in the figure above is one of many correct sets of testing options; you can rearrange and add additional tests depending on the needs of your project.

The number of tests this model contains can be time-consuming and budget-intensive, making the V model one of the most resource-intensive on this list. However, it will be effective in projects requiring a high-quality level without downtime or critical errors, such as healthcare software.

Spiral Model

In this software development model, risk assessment is critical. So if you decide to use this model, you will need a team with sufficient risk management experience. The iterations here can last several months and will involve four main processes:


  • Defining goals


  • Definition of risks


  • Development and testing


  • Planning the next iteration


When visualized, this model looks like a spiral spanning four quadrants. The result of each iteration is a prototype, which you can test and see if any changes are needed before release.

The spiral model is suitable for complex and innovative projects because the model is customizable and flexible.

Final Thoughts

Each of the models has its pros and cons and is suitable for different projects. Choosing the right SDLC model will significantly affect the product's success.

When team members know how they should work, it streamlines development and sets clear expectations. Most developers worldwide use Agile and Waterfall, but your choice will depend on what you want to create.

If you have an idea for a software project and want to partner with an Agile software development agency, feel free to email us.

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