Guide To 6 Popular Software Development Models

Software development models

Software Development Models are there to help developers optimize the Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC). That software developers choose suitable SDLC models will help build a software product of the highest quality and lowest costs in the shortest amount of time. 

In this article, we will guide you to 6 common software development life cycle models in software engineering with their working principles, pros and cons as follows: 

  • Waterfall model 
  • V model 
  • Iterative model 
  • Agile model 
  • Incremental model 
  • RAD model 

6 Popular Software Development Models in Software Engineering 

1. The Waterfall Model 

The Waterfall software development model is a traditional approach to software development. In this model, the software process moves linearly through the development stages, from analysis, design, coding, testing, deployment to maintenance. When a step is completely finished, the next step begins. in a development lifecycle using the Waterfall principle, Software developers won’t often go back to the previous steps to make changes.  

Waterfall model’s use cases in software engineering: 

  • Short-term and small-scope software projects. 
  • Projects with a clearly pre-defined path, plan and consistent requirements. 
  • Projects that need predictable budget, effort, and time spent. 
Waterfall software development model
Waterfall Software Development Model Workflow


  • It’s easy to use and manage the SDLC thanks to a clearly defined plan, timeline, and budget.  
  • Information is well-transferred between steps. 


  • Lack of flexibility to handle changes and encourage continuous improvements. 
  • It is difficult to make changes or deal with issues that arise along the way. 
  • Exclude the clients and/or end users’ feedback in the SDLC. 
  • Not ideal for long-term and complex software projects, or projects without clear requirements. 

2.The V model 

The SDLC V-model is a legacy model of the Waterfall methodology with the testing step added to each development phase. Take it simply, we will implement tests after each phase of the SDLC, from requirement specifications to maintenance, to ensure each step is well executed and issue-free.  

Use case: Software projects that need high accuracy right from the beginning and even small issues are unacceptable. 

Software Development V-model
Software Development V-model

The V model pros and cons are similar to the Waterfall model yet adding the following: 


  • Be proactive in bug detection at each phase. 


  • Consume more time when every phase is tested.  

3. The Iterative Model 

The SDLC Iterative methodology is among the most popular models of software development nowadays. In the Iterative development model, the team will build the software product for the first version, release it into the market, get feedback, and update it to new versions that keep up with the market’s needs. Also, each version is accompanied by a whole software development life cycle. 

The Iterative software model doesn’t require much initial effort to create detailed software requirements specification documents like the SRS or SDD. Instead, it starts quickly with a small set of requirements, then the newest iteration will be innovated and evolved based on the previous iteration and its reviews. Think of each time Facebook announces updating new features and versions, this is exactly what the Iterative model is doing.  

This model allows early product prototyping and continuous innovation, hence businesses in e-commerce and social media particularly love it. Still, a huge challenge of this approach is the need for visionary planning. Take Amazon for example, the early system design was for processing book orders only. When Amazon gradually extended its services to thousands and then millions of kinds of goods, the early system couldn’t handle them and they needed to build a new one. 

Iterative model’s use cases in software engineering:  

  • Large software projects. 
  • Projects with changes and innovation in the future. 
  • Projects with the market needs constantly changing and evolving, such as e-commerce marketplaces and social network services. 
Iterative software development model
Iterative software development model workflow


  • Allow quick start, early prototype and quick time to market. 
  • Allow continuous innovation and advancement. 
  • Suitable for products in the market with  


  • The engineering team needs to follow the product for a long period. 
  • It’s hard to predict the effort spent, and additional resources may be required. 
  • Complex project management with loads of cycles. 
  • Need long-term vision in system design. 

4. The Agile Model 

The Agile model is considered a new software process model that resolves the flexibility and innovation shortages of the Waterfall methodology. Agile divides the software product into various modules and involves the clients/end users in all phases of the SDLC. That means the development team will get review and confirmation at every step, ranging from planning, design and coding to testing, before closing a process and moving to the next stages.  

The software development methodologies agile is considered a combination and purification of the Iterative and Incremental SDLC models. The cycles in the Agile methodology are quickly and constantly carried out, often taking several weeks for one version to be released. 

Agile model’s use cases in software engineering: 

  • Projects that need flexibility to respond to feedback and adjust the requirements during development. 
  • Projects without a detailed plan and/or software requirements clarification beforehand. 
  • Projects that the vision or features are not yet well defined.  
Agile software development model
Agile software development model workflow


  • Loads of flexibility to handle changes. 
  • Allow continuous improvement with immediate feedback after each module. 
  • Timely delivery thanks to less preparatory work. 


  • Lack of predictability, making it hard to estimate time and effort spent. 

5. The Incremental Model 

The Incremental model breaks the software project into submodules and builds them sequentially. Each module goes through a complete SDLC, ranging from analysis, design and construction to testing, then integrated into previous parts.  

Incremental is among the most-used models for software development when companies want simple project management and reduce the overwhelming burden of a large process, particularly when their teams don’t possess strong experience in software development. 

Incremental model’s use cases in software engineering: 

  • Projects with requirements being clearly defined and understood. 
  • In large projects, when we want simple project management and to reduce the overwhelming burden of a huge development process. 
Incremental software development model 
Incremental software development model workflow


  • Easy project management with a clear route to follow. 
  • Enough flexibility to allow changes in the scope and requirements of the project. 
  • It is easier to detect and fix bugs early when each module is tested. 


  • It requires good planning and system design to keep modules stable, or issues may arise when we integrate new modules into the system or adjust other modules. 
  • Regression tests may be required each time integrating a new module. 
  • It’s more expensive than traditional software development models like Waterfall. 

6. The Rapid Application Development Model (RAD) 

The RAD software development model is similar to the Incremental in the way that it divides the product into various functional parts. Still, as its name suggests, all modules are built simultaneously as small projects in the RAD model. It’s also called the “multi-waterfall” cycle as the development methodology for each module is similar to the Waterfall. 

RAD model’s use cases in software engineering: 

  • Projects that need quick time to market. 
  • Project with well-defined and well-understood outcomes. 
RAD software development model
RAD software development model


  • Real quick product delivery time. 


  • It demands good system design and skilled developers. 
  • It requires designers’ involvement at the beginning to design all modules. 

How to choose software development models for your projects? 

Choosing suitable models of software engineering helps the development team optimize the effort spent while ensuring quality and delivery time of the product. To do that, we should consider: 

  • The team’s capacity and the project’s scope and complexity level.  
  • Prioritized aspects: cost reduction, time reduction, or quality is king. 
  • The demand for changes during software development and even in the future. 

With 6 years of experience designing and developing software products, LTS Group can assist you with selecting the right software development methodology and help you build your software products with minimal resources consumed. Don’t hesitate to contact us if you need consultation regarding software development models or so. 

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