What is the best SDLC model? Here are six to consider:

  1. Waterfall Model
  2. V-Shaped Model
  3. Iterative Model
  4. Spiral Model
  5. Big Bang Model
  6. Agile Model
Estimated Read Time: 3 minutes

A wise individual once said that if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.

The Systems Development Life Cycle (SDLC) gives structure to the challenges of transitioning from the beginning to the end of your project without forgetting a step.

A number of different SDLC models are used today to guide professionals through their project-based work.

Here are the key pros and cons of six of the most common SDLC models for project management and leading campaigns.

1. Waterfall Model

Waterfall is the oldest and most straightforward of the structured SDLC methodologies — finish one phase, then move on to the next. No going back.

Each stage relies on information from the previous stage and has its own project plan. Waterfall is easy to understand and simple to manage.

But early delays can throw off the entire project timeline.

And since there is little room for revisions once a stage is completed, problems can’t be fixed until you get to the maintenance stage.

This model doesn’t work well if flexibility is needed or if the project is long term and ongoing.

Related: 10 effective management techniques to boost employee performance

2. V-Shaped Model

Also known as the Verification and Validation model, the V-shaped model grew out of Waterfall and is characterised by a corresponding testing phase for each development stage.

Like Waterfall, each stage begins only after the previous one has ended.

This model is useful when there are no unknown requirements, as it’s still difficult to go back and make changes.

3. Iterative Model

The Iterative model is repetition incarnate. Instead of starting with fully known requirements, you implement a set of software requirements, then test, evaluate and pinpoint further requirements.

A new version of the software is produced with each phase, or iteration. Rinse and repeat until the complete system is ready.

One advantage over other SDLC models: This model gives you a working version early in the process and makes it less expensive to implement changes.

One disadvantage: Resources can quickly be eaten up by repeating the process again and again.

DID YOU KNOW: Robert Half specialises in interim recruitment and project management consulting. Contact us today for more information.

4. Spiral Model

One of the most flexible SDLC methodologies, the Spiral model takes a cue from the Iterative model and its repetition; the project passes through four phases over and over in a “spiral” until completed, allowing for multiple rounds of refinement.

This model allows for the building of a highly customised product, and user feedback can be incorporated from early on in the project.

But the risk you run is creating a never-ending spiral for a project that goes on and on.

5. Big Bang Model

A bit of an anomaly among SDLC methodologies, the Big Bang model follows no specific process, and very little time is spent on planning.

The majority of resources are thrown toward development, and even the client may not have a solid grasp of the requirements.

This is one of the SDLC models typically used for small projects with only one or two software engineers.

Big Bang is not recommended for large or complex projects, as it’s a high-risk model; if the requirements are misunderstood in the beginning, you could get to the end and realise the project may have to be started all over again.

Related: 6 time management techniques for time poor professionals

6. Agile Model

By breaking the product into cycles, the Agile model quickly delivers a working product and is considered a very realistic development approach.

The model produces ongoing releases, each with small, incremental changes from the previous release. At each iteration, the product is tested.

This model emphasises interaction, as the customers, developers and testers work together throughout the project.

But since this model depends heavily on customer interaction, the project can head the wrong way if the customer is not clear on the direction he or she wants to go.

Which SDLC model is right for you?

Each of these SDLC methodologies offers unique process for the variety of project challenges you will encounter in your career.

Finding the right one depends heavily on not just the expected outcome, but the parameters by which the project is executed.

Are you currently leading a team on an important project? Here are our tips for improving your ability to adapt and tailor strategies to the needs of your staff.