Top 8 Software Development Models

Top 8 Software Development Models

A software development model refers to the processes or methodologies used for the development of the project's goals and objectives. 

To achieve those aims, companies use different types of software development life cycle models. The chosen model is incredibly important in the software development stage for several reasons. But significantly because it will determine the project's direction and outcomes.

Once you pick the model, it cannot be changed for another. 

There are around 50 software development models available, and each of them has the potential to help you reach your objective or obstruct your progress.

However, we decided to single out the best out of the best and go with the top 8 software development models. Let's check them!

Waterfall Model

Waterfall Model, Credits: Stock

watter fall model

The waterfall model represents the process that moves in a cascade style where completion is required before moving forward. This means that the next stage can’t start before the previous one is fully completed.

In this model, there are no overlaps, and everything is done linearly. 


  • Easy to understand and use

  • Detailed and transparent test scenarios

  • Very easy to arrange tasks 


  • Requirements for software cannot be reevaluated later on

  • The software cannot be seen and tested until the last development stage is finished 

  • High project risks and unpredictable results


When to use the Waterfall model?

Use the Waterfall software development model when:

  • Small or mid-sized projects 

  • A project requiring tighter control, predictable budgets, and timelines (e.g., governmental projects)

  • Projects that must comply with numerous rules and regulations 

  • Projects that use well-known technology and tools

Incremental and Iterative Model

Incremental Model, Credits: Stock

Incremental model

This model represents a development process where modules are split into several standalone units. After the division, all these units are delivered sequentially. In each iteration, new modules are added without or with little change to the earlier modules.

The development process in the Incremental model goes sequentially or in parallel. 

  • Parallel development increases the pace of delivery

  • Sequential development consists of many repeated cycles, which can prolong the project and increase development costs 


  • Flexible and less expensive

  • Lowers the initial delivery cost and tests easily

  • Easier to debug and manage risks


  • The entire system must be completely defined before breaking it and building it incrementally

  • Expensive compared to the waterfall model

  • Requires detailed planning and design

Iterative Model, Credits: Stock

Iterative Model

This software model involves creating a simple foundation before building on it. It's all about evolution and growth, while repetition is the main focus. 

Therefore, before starting the iterative approach, the developers do not need to know all the project's requirements. Instead, they can develop a set of software requirements, evaluate, and test them before pointing to further requirements.


  • Time-saving since errors can be detected at the early stages

  • Less effort is spent on documentation, and more time is spent on productive design

  • Easier and reliable feedback


  • Not flexible and has no overlaps in each phase

  • Design problems may occur

  • Very expensive system architecture

When to use these models?

Large and critical enterprise applications, such as web services and microservices.

RAD Model

RAD Model, Credits: Stock 


The Rapid Application Development model or RAD model is an offshoot of the incremental model. It gathers requirements by reusing software components, informal communication, and other methods.

The model is based on iterative development and prototypes with focused planning.


  • Better reuse of components

  • Encourages customer feedback

  • Reduces overall software development time

  • No integration problems


  • Highly dependent on the modeling skills

  • Compatible team and their performances for requirements realization

  • It can be very expensive

  • RAD system can be modularized

When to use the RAD model?

The RAD approach is strongly recommended for software guided by user interface (UI) requirements. 

Spiral Model

The spiral model resembles the incremental model because it’s emphasizing risk analysis.

The spiral model is mainly focused on risk management than anything else. It is one of the most flexible methods because it enables the creation of highly customized software products.


  • Control and approval of important documentation

  • The flexibility of adding more functionalities even in the later phases

  • Early development of the product


  • Highly expensive

  • Requires specific business expertise for risk analysis 

When to use the Spiral model?

Use the Spiral model when:

  • There are medium or high-risk projects whether related to B2C or B2B users.

  • When the cost and risk evaluations are crucial to the projects

  • Significant changes are expected, and you are using a new product line

V Model

V Model, Credits: Stock

V Model

The validation and verification model (V Model) represents an extension of the waterfall model. Those two phrases have parallel development, illustrated in the V diagram.  

This means that each stage starts only if the previous one is finished. The only difference between these models is that the former stage has an early test planning process here.


  • Detecting the bugs at an early stage

  • Simple to use

  • Test design and planning activities are conducted long before the coding process begins

  • Higher success rate compared to the waterfall model


  • Very rigid model

  • If any changes occur, everything needs to be updated

  • No early prototypes of the software 

When to use the V model?

Use the V model when:

  • You have small to medium-sized projects

  • The project’s requirements are clearly defined

  • There are projects with sufficient technical resources

The Rational Unified Process (RUP)

RUP Model, Credits: Stock


RUP model represents a summit of linear and iterative frameworks. This model divides the entire process into four phases – inception, elaboration, construction, and transition. 

Each phase, except the inception part, is done in several iterations.

All of the development process's actions are carried out parallelly. That's the main reason why this RUP model aids in the development of flexible software solutions.


  • Focuses on the accurate documentation

  • Changes according to the requirements are easy

  • Integration is also pretty easy 


  • Only experts can perform this model

  • Complex development process

  • Unable to reuse components 

When to use the RUP model?

Use the RUP model for large and high-risk projects. 

Big Bang Model

The big bang model has no specific process to follow. This means that the model has no structure when starting the development process. Later on, it demonstrates tremendous expansion and growth, allowing for faster software development.


  • Less planning and fewer resources

  • Cost-effective 

  • Easy to implement


  • Sometimes this model can be precarious with less return on investment

  • Not suitable for complex projects

  • Questionable durability of the software project

When to use the Big Bang model?

Use the Big Bang model for smaller projects and when working on temporary or experimental software. Furthermore, this model is also suitable when the software release date is not stated.

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