Software development models have been used for decades. In the world of business, where projects are carried out for seemingly infinite numbers of specific tasks, software development is used to help a project progress and achieve its aims and goals. Software development can follow different models and methods which vary depending on the objectives of each individual project.
What is software development?
There are various models and methods of software development, including the waterfall model, the incremental model and the spiral model. Different models are used regularly by many companies, although some, such as the Agile model, are becoming more popular than other older models, such as the waterfall model. Companies select a particular development model by analysing the project that the model will be applied to. Software development models are then used to create and maintain software that will eventually be released as a final software product.
Why is software needed?
Software is developed for a variety of purposes, but many of these purposes surround the needs of specific businesses and commercial or personal users. The range of software designed for different uses is enormous. For instance, software can be embedded within databases to become integrated with the development of different products – that is, software can be written and programmed to control machines and hardware required by different manufacturers, such as those in the car or phone industries. Alternatively, software can be built and used as “open-source”; examples include products such as the internet browser Mozilla Firefox and the Android operating system for mobile phones. Software can also be used in a plethora of business applications, such as Internet payment systems such as Paypal.
How are software development models used?
The development of software involves activities such as computer programming, testing, bug-fixing and documenting. Software development also involves identifying the need and purpose of the software, designing the software and also implementing, deploying and maintaining the software during development stages and after the final release of the software product. Throughout these processes high quality control of software development is essential. In response to this necessity of regulated quality control, software development has become disciplined, following a systematic approach. Software development models and methods are involved in the process of managing different software projects, and help maintain this disciplined approach to software development.
What is agile software development?
Agile software development is a term used to describe a group of software development models and methods. First introduced in 2001 by the Agile Manifesto, agile development models focus on achieving solutions by promoting collaborations between cross-functional teams. The overall aims of agile development are to promote quick and effective responses to changes within projects, flexible adaptation throughout the project planning and development, as well as continuous improvement throughout the software development process.
How is agile development different?
The relatively recent innovation of agile software development was designed to try to improve methods of developing software. Instead of functioning on a long sequence of software development processes, the agile method focuses on compressing software development into one-week cycles. Development processes are conducted in repeated cycles in small portions. Consequently, developers are able to test and review the process throughout software development.
The final outcome of the Agile Manifesto was that certain features of software development were prioritised. For instance, the ability to respond to change was prioritised over simply following the original plan; collaborating with customers was considered more important than contract negotiation; obtaining working, functional software was more essential than comprehensive documentation, and individuals and interactions was focused on more than processes and tools.
A total of twelve principles were set out by the Agile Manifesto. These included values such as ensuring that working software is delivered frequently and on as short a timescale as possible, and that regular reflection by self-organising and cross-functional teams allows the project to become more effective. Overall, these principles enhance the ability of multi-disciplined teams to produce high quality work on a regular and reliable basis, while ensuring that individuals remain motivated, communicate frequently, and continuously assess and modify their work.
Software development teams using the agile model will benefit from the rapid and flexible process utilised by this approach, and a continuously evolving method of development. Rather than providing a snapshot of a company’s process, agile development provides a continuous insight into how the company can improve and advance. Different development models are suitable for different projects, and consequently no single model can be considered a gold standard. However, by understanding the principles of agile development, any model can be picked and fine-tuned to suit the specific needs of the project – which is the fundamental purpose of being agile.