This sponsored post is produced in association with New Relic. 

Successful software development projects require having a great idea that you get to market quickly — ahead of your competition. This need for speed means reducing the amount of hand-coding done by your development team and increasing code re-use in a way that doesn’t introduce risk or add errors to your final product.

It goes without saying that long-term considerations such as reducing the burden your project places on the existing IT infrastructure are important, but staying on time without compromising security matters too. All of these rapid development goals are impacted by the development methodology you use.

To that end, understanding the software development lifecycle means that once you move beyond your initial idea, there are a whole lot of additional steps to complete before you reach the delivery of your end product. If you standardize your development environments and processes while working through each of the requisite phases — analysis, design, development, integration and testing, acceptance, deployment, and maintenance — you’ll experience less disruption to your organization and get maximum buy-in from your target audience.

When comparing development methodologies, it’s valuable to review the advantages they offer; though ultimately your choice will be an exercise in both education and instinct. While there is always the temptation to look for an itemized list of disadvantages, the downsides are difficult to generalize. If you want to know the best methodology — or methodologies — to choose, it’s really best to focus on how the various options excel and apply them to specific situations.

1. Agile

With this methodology, software development is broken down into smaller projects, making it ideal for short and finite release cycles such as those required for quarterly upgrades to an existing product.


  • Face to face communication is encouraged over written documents which minimizes miscommunication and misunderstandings.
  • Documentation is encouraged.

When to use it 

  • Your development team works closely together in the same physical location.
  • Your development culture promotes a rapid develop, test, and release approach.
  • Your project requires regular, ongoing development of upgrades and updates.

2. Scrum

Led by a scrum master, projects using this methodology give considerable weight to the intelligence, experience, and problem-solving skills contributed by the entire development team. Development tasks are completed in short cycles known as sprints.


  • All tasks are chunked down into manageable pieces and prioritized, creating a living backlog of outstanding work to be completed.
  • Brief daily meetings communicate the current project status and progress.
  • Obstacles are raised and handled as they are encountered.

When to use it 

  • Your project is lengthy and would benefit from pre-planned and structured development activities.
  • With sprints lasting an average of 2-4 weeks, tasks are being completed on a regular schedule, making it easy to demonstrate progress to investors and project owners.
  • You want to make developers feel invested in the project and responsible for its success.

3. Kanban

Based on Toyota’s ‘Just-In-Time’ (JIT) production system, this methodology is considered to be particularly simple, placing a focus on identifying the work currently in progress while identifying — and therefore helping to avoid — bottlenecks.


  • Requires only a limited financial investment — you can get started with a whiteboard and some Post-It notes.
  • Can be piggy-backed on other methodologies by simply employing a visual storyboard on which developers and analysts can list their current and outstanding tasks while also showing their current status.

When to use it 

  • Your project isn’t so complex that it cannot be broken down into categories displayed on your whiteboard for pending, analysis, development, test, and deployment phases.
  • Your development team can be trusted to keep the project board current in the absence of a central project manager taking control.

4. Scrumban

This methodology combines both Scrum and Kanban and uses a structured and prioritized task list, the progress through which is demonstrated visually.


  • Developers pick up new tasks only when their existing assignments have been completed.
  • Disruptions and distractions are reduced when testers and project managers do not need to interrupt focused developers for status reports.

When to use it 

  • Your development team is experienced and can manage their own workload — knowing when to move tasks to the next stage in their lifecycle and understanding the big picture for the project.
  • Your project would be made excessively complex by the micro-managed approach Scrum offers on its own.

5. Pair Programming

As the name suggests, two programmers work together at a single workstation — one types while the other is considered an observer, pointer, or navigator as each line of code is composed.


  • Each developer is able to focus on different aspects of the project; the observer is concerned with the strategic direction while their partner is able to write code using a ‘stream of consciousness’ approach.
  • Reduces testing costs and defects in the programs by catching possible problems as they are created.

When to use it 

  • Your development team is very small and very confident (it can be intimidating for junior programmers to feel as if they are being watched and scrutinized). Expert-Expert pairings have been shown to be the most productive while producing great results.
  • Your project could benefit from the brainstorming-centric, communication-heavy approach this methodology affords.

6. Spiral

Designed to mitigate risk, spiral projects always begin with exploration. This conscientious approach ensures that each subsequent step in the development process involves making an informed decision to continue.


  • Projects that are expected to be large and complex benefit from this style of prototyping and analysis at each iterative stage.
  • Requirements are constantly refined and evolving to best serve the functionality needed from the end product.

When to use it 

  • Your project is influenced by ancillary systems that contribute risk and unknown variables to your development plan.
  • The success of your final product will be determined by customer buy-in.
  • Security is a significant concern.

7. Waterfall

This approach is used predominantly by large, traditional enterprises doing large software projects. It appreciates simplicity — define requirements and produce results.


  • Once each phase of development is completed, the next one is started without ever looking back.
  • Allows for strict managerial control.

When to use it 

  • Your project is small, requirements are easily identified, scope is strictly controlled, and you have a brief time frame.
  • You have a limited budget.
  • Fast development times are not a priority.
  • Your organization relies on legacy processes that can’t be quickly changed.
  • Your organization faces regulatory and compliance requirements designed for a less interactive development process.

8. Extreme Programming

Often considered the brute-force approach to software development, the primary goal of Extreme Programming Is to approach each project as a constant evolution.


  • Development tasks are broken down to include only the critical activities.
  • No project delays observed for project planning or requirements gathering stages.

When to use it 

  • If your development environment lacks stability or the requirements for your project are uncertain.
  • You have a small co-located development team.

Ultimately, choosing the right methodologies is about finding the right tools for your job. Once you do make a choice, it’s important to faithfully follow from the standards and processes they provide, as their value and strength reside in their structure.

Sponsored posts are content that has been produced by a company that is either paying for the post or has a business relationship with VentureBeat, and they’re always clearly marked. The content of news stories produced by our editorial team is never influenced by advertisers or sponsors in any way. For more information, contact