Software processes refer to the activities of designing, implementing, and testing software systems. The software development process is complex and requires more than technical skills. This article will discuss the top software process model, and when they can be used.
Software process models are a great tool for this purpose. Software process models are abstract representations of the development processes.
What is a software process model?
A software process model represents an abstraction of the software development cycle. Models specify the order and stages of a process. This is a representation of the order of activities in the process and the sequence within which they are performed.
The following models will be defined:
- The tasks to be performed
- Each task’s input and output
- Each task’s pre- and post-conditions
- Each task’s flow and sequence
For different requirements, there are many software process models. These are SDLC models, also known as Software Development Life Cycle models. These are the most important and popular SDLC models:
- Waterfall model
- V model
- Model of incrementalism
- RAD model
- Agile model
- Iterative model
- Prototype model
- Spiral model
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Considerations when choosing a software process
It can be hard to choose the right model of software for your project. It is easier to choose the right model for your project if you are clear about your requirements. When selecting a software model for your process, you should keep these things in mind:
Before you decide on a model, take the time to review the requirements of your project and clarify them with your team or organization. After each iterative session, will the user have to detail their requirements? Will the requirements be modified during the development process?
You should consider the size of your project. Greater projects require larger teams. So you will need to have more detailed and complex project management plans.
Complex projects might not have clear requirements. There may be frequent changes to the requirements, which can lead to delays that could cost a lot. Consider whether the client needs to be kept informed and monitored.
Cost of delay
Are you pressed for time and are you worried about the potential cost of delays? Are the timelines adjustable?
Are customers required to be consulted during the entire process? Is the user required to take part in all phases?
Familiarity with technology
This includes the developers’ knowledge and experiences with the project domain, software tools, and language as well as the development methods.
This includes the availability and amount of funds, staff, or other resources.
Different types of software process models
There are many types of software process models, each with its own requirements. We will be examining the seven most important types of software process models that you need to know.
The waterfall model is a plan-driven process in which you need to plan and schedule every activity before you start the project. Each phase of the waterfall model can be represented as a distinct phase, arranged in a linear order.
These are the phases of it:
Each phase produces one or more documents, which must be approved before the next phase starts. In practice, however, these phases may overlap and feed information to each other.
The waterfall model is simple to follow and understand. After the specification has been completed, it doesn’t require much customer involvement. It is not flexible and cannot adapt to changes. The last phase of the software cannot be viewed or tested.
The waterfall model is a rigid structure. It should only be used when the requirements are fully understood and likely to change.
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The V model (Verification & Validation model), is an extension of the waterfall model. All requirements must be gathered from the beginning and cannot be modified. Each stage has a related testing activity. Each phase of the development cycle has an associated test phase.
The V model is very disciplined and easy to understand. It also makes project management much easier. It is not suitable for complex projects or projects with changing or unclear requirements. The V model is a great choice for software applications where failures or downtimes are unacceptable.
The incremental model breaks down the system’s functionality in small increments, which are delivered one by one in rapid succession. In the initial increments, the most important functionality is implemented.
Each increment builds on the preceding until all are updated and implemented.
Incremental development involves the creation of an initial implementation, then exposing it for user feedback and evolving it through new versions. Feedback is an integral part of the process.
Stakeholders and developers can see the results of each increment using the incremental model. Stakeholders can dislike anything and everyone will find out much sooner. This is because developers are able to focus on the important things and fix bugs as they occur. However, you must have a complete and clear definition before you begin.
For projects with loosely connected parts or projects with clear requirements, the incremental model works well.
Iterative development builds a system by building small portions from all the features. This allows you to quickly meet your initial scope and then release it for feedback.
The iterative model starts with a few software requirements. These requirements are then improved iteratively until the system is complete. This model begins with a portion of the software. Then, it is implemented and reviewed for additional requirements.
The iterative model is similar to the incremental model. You can see the results in the early stages of development. It is easy to identify and fix design or functional flaws. This makes it easier for you to manage risk and meet change requirements.
Especially for complex large-scale projects, the deadlines, and budgets may change during development. Iterative models are a great choice for large programs that can be easily divided into modules.
Rapid Application Development (RAD) is a method of rapid application development that relies on prototyping and iterative design with minimal planning. For faster product delivery, functional modules are developed in parallel. The following phases are involved:
- Business modeling
- Data modeling
- Process modeling
- Application generation
- Turnover and testing
The RAD model allows for changing requirements and reduces development time. It also increases the reusability potential of components. It can be difficult to manage. The RAD model is ideal for systems that are short-term and have specific requirements.
The spiral model is an iterative, risk-driven software process model. The spiral model is a loop-based process that delivers projects. It is not a process model like other ones. Instead, it uses phases to address any problem that has the highest chance of failure.
The following phases are available for each cycle:
- Find the best solution for the most high-risk problem.
- Analyze the alternatives, and identify the risks and potential solutions.
- Find a solution, and then verify that it is acceptable.
- Plan for the next cycle
The concept is developed in the first few cycles and then it becomes an implementation. This model is excellent for managing uncertainty but it can be hard to maintain stable documentation. For projects with unclear requirements, or still, in research and development, the spiral model is suitable.
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The agile process model encourages continual iterations in development and testing. Each iteration builds each incremental piece. Each iteration is small enough to be completed in a few weeks.
Each iteration is focused on implementing a limited set of features fully. This involves customers in the development process. It also minimizes documentation through informal communication.
Although agile is a realistic way to develop software, it’s not great for complex projects. Because there is not much documentation, it can be difficult to transfer. Agile is ideal for projects that have changing requirements.
Some of the most common agile methods include:
- Scrum: Scrum is one of the most well-known agile models. It consists of iterations known as sprints. Each sprint lasts between 2 and 4 weeks. Planning is required before each sprint begins. After the sprint activities are defined, you cannot make any changes.
- Extreme Programming: An iteration of Extreme Programming can take between one and two weeks. XP employs pair programming, continuous integration, and test-driven development. It also uses small releases and simple software design.
- Kanban: Kanban’s focus on visualizations. Iterations are kept to a minimum. The Kanban Board is a visual representation of all project activities, their numbers, responsible persons, and progress.
Conclusion — What to learn next
Congratulations on making it this far! I hope that you have gained a better understanding of software process models and how to use them. We learned about the various software process models and when they should be used.
When it comes to system and project design, there is still much to learn. Next, take a look at:
- Reuse-oriented Software Engineering
Learn how to design complex systems and get started with these concepts by visiting Educative’s Scalability & System Development for Developers. These modules will teach you everything you need to create scalable systems that can be used for enterprise-level software.