Software Engineering Models You Should Know
To Accelerate Results for Your Team

One of the first software engineering models I learned was the waterfall, which at the time I couldn't imagine a better way to build, and design "quality software". How little did I know at the time when I first started working in 2000 there are more ways to improve based on the team - let alone improve speed and quality.  Many models have been developed over the years to help development teams plan, develop, and maintain software projects. 

software engineering model

Without further ado here the popular software engineering models, click on each model for more detailed information about them. 

Most Common Software Engineering Models

spiral software engineering model
  1. Waterfall model: The waterfall model is the one I started out with in 2000 has a linear approach that maps out dependencies which each phase of the development process completes before moving on to the next.

  2. Agile model: The agile model is a flexible, iterative approach that emphasizes rapid delivery, continuous testing, and the ability to respond to change.

  3. Scrum: Scrum is a subset of the agile framework that works through short, iterative development cycles called "sprints."

  4. Continuous Integration (CI) and Continuous Delivery (CD) involves frequently integrating code changes into a codebase and delivering those changes to users.

  5. Kanban model is a pull-based system that helps teams visualize and optimize their workflows.

  6. Test-driven development (TDD) is a software development process that focuses on writing tests before writing code. The process involves writing tests to define the desired behavior of the code, then writing code to make the tests pass.

  7. Extreme programming (XP) is an agile software development methodology that emphasizes frequent releases, pair programming, and continuous testing to get code. (used commonly with TDD).

  8. Spiral model is a risk-driven approach that involves iteratively refining a product through sequential cycles.

  9. Rapid application development (RAD) is a model that emphasizes rapid prototyping and iterative development.

  10. Rapid prototyping is commonly used with no-code tools, rapid prototyping is a software engineering model that involves quickly creating a prototype of a product in order to gather feedback and refine the design.

  11. incremental development involves delivering a product in increments, with each increment building upon the previous one.

  12. Feature-driven development (FDD) is a model that emphasizes the delivery of small, incremental releases of a product.

Additional Software Engineering Models to Consider

formal methods software engineering model

Being aware of what models exist can help expand your thinking as a software engineer, as most developers only worked through a few of these (usually the more popular ones above). Expanding your toolkit in software is almost always helpful especially working in teams.

  1. Lean software development (LSD) is a model that applies the principles of lean manufacturing (Toyota) to software development that focuses on value optimization and reducing waste. 

  2. Crystal methods are a set of guidelines for developing software in a way that is tailored to the specific needs of the team and project.

  3. Dynamic systems development method (DSDM) is an agile framework that emphasizes delivering business value through iterative development.

  4. Lean start-up is a framework for building and scaling businesses that emphasizes rapid experimentation and learning. Every "failure" is a learning opportunity.

  5. Adaptive software development (ASD) is an agile methodology that emphasizes the ability to rapidly respond to change.

  6. Cleanroom software engineering is a formal method for developing software that emphasizes the use of rigorous mathematical methods and statistical testing.

  7. Rational Unified Process (RUP) is a software development process that involves iteratively developing a product through a series of cycles called iterations.

  8. Unified Process (UP) is a software development process that involves iteratively developing a product through a series of cycles called "iterations."

  9. Joint Applications Development (JAD) is a methodology that involves bringing together a team of stakeholders to identify and prioritize the requirements for a software project.

  10. Formal methods are a set of mathematical techniques that are used to specify, design, and verify software systems.

These are just a few examples of the many software engineering models that have been developed to help organizations plan, develop, and maintain software projects.

Deciding Which Software Engineering Model to Use

As you can see no one model fits all and there are more options you canWhen choosing a software engineering model for your programming project. Here are a few things to consider:

  • The size and complexity of the project: Different software engineering models are better suited for different types of projects. For example, a small, straightforward project might be well-suited to the waterfall model, while a larger, more complex project with a less clear scope might require a more flexible agile approach.

  • The skills and experience of your development team: Different software engineering models have different requirements in terms of the skills and experience of the team. Be sure to choose a model that your team is capable of using.

  • Project management tools available to your team. There are a number of tools available (free and paid) to the development team. A larger company with more resources is likely to invest in tools to maximize productivity versus a lean startup team that relies on free, open source tools.

  • The needs of your stakeholders: Different stakeholders (such as customers, users, and business partners) may have different needs and priorities. Be sure to consider their needs when choosing a software engineering model that best suits their needs

  • The timeline and budget of the project: Different software engineering models have different implications for the timeline and budget of a project. Be sure to choose a model that is realistic given the resources you have available.

By considering these factors, you should be able to choose a software engineering model that is appropriate for your programming project. Keep in mind that it's often a good idea to try out different models and see what works best for your specific needs.