Application Development

3 Main Types of Application Development Methodologies [Updated]

Application development methodol

The demand for high-quality applications has significantly increased. However, application development can be complex and challenging, requiring a well-structured approach to ensure success.

This article will provide an overview of the most commonly used app development methodologies, their benefits and drawbacks, and how to choose the right one for your project.

Table of Contents

What are application development methodologies?

App development methodologies are frameworks that provide a systematic approach to the app development process. These methodologies ensure the final product is high quality, meets user requirements, and is delivered on time and within budget.

Why is choosing the right app development methodology important?

Determining the appropriate methodology is often underestimated in the app development cycle. It doesn't matter whether you have a killer project planned. Choosing the wrong method can jeopardize the whole project and force you to start from scratch.

The methodology used decides the overall structure of the app development process, such as:

  • How the project is managed

  • How requirements are gathered

  • How testing is performed

  • How changes are implemented



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Here are some of the major reasons why the right app development methodology matters:

  1. Ensures that the development team understands the project requirements and delivers a final product that meets those requirements.

  2. Provides a framework that organizes the development process. This reduces the risk of misunderstandings and missed deadlines.

  3. Helps identify potential project risks and eliminates the likelihood of project failure due to unforeseen circumstances.

  4. Promotes healthy communication and understanding among team members, improves collaboration and reduces the risk of miscommunication.

  5. Aids in managing project costs, ensuring that the project is completed within budget.

Types of application development methodologies

Several methodologies are used in app development, each with unique advantages and disadvantages. Some of these methodologies provide more flexibility and quicker time-to-market, while others focus on product criteria, extensive testing before product release, documentation, etc.

Types of app development methodology

The type of methodology chosen is impacted by various factors such as the budget allocated, how quickly the product must be released, resources available to complete the project, etc.

Most application development methodologies can be grouped into one of three categories

  • Waterfall
  • RAD
  • Agile

Waterfall Methodology

Waterfall methodology

The keywords for the waterfall method of application development are planning and sequence. The entire project is mapped out in the planning and analysis stages. The customer comes with a very detailed list of features and functionalities for the application. Then, a project manager maps the whole process out amongst the team.

This application development method is called Waterfall because once you go down, you can't go back up; everything flows downward. The development team works together over time, building exactly what is lined out according to the specifications. After the architecture is designed, only then can the construction begin. The entire application is built, and then it is all tested to ensure it is working properly. Then, it is shown to the customer and ready to be implemented.

The waterfall method assumes that the project requirements are precise and the customer and project manager have a unified and clear vision of the result.


  • It is very meticulous and also a good app development method to use for big projects that need to have one unifying vision.

  • It is easier to train junior programmers on development parts without handing over an entire project.


  • Changes happen all the time.

  • Even if the development team can build exactly what the customer originally wanted (which doesn't always happen), the market, technology, or organization may have changed so much that it is useless and a waste of time.

Waterfall works best as an application development method when:

  • You don’t anticipate many changes

  • Budgets are fixed for the project

  • You’ve done a similar project before

  • The customer is very clear and doesn’t plan to be involved much until the end

Rapid Application Development (RAD) Methodology

Rapid application development methodology


As you might imagine, the waterfall application development method presented some big problems. The development process often took a long time to see a working product, and teams had to be large to accommodate all the requirements. And tensions run high when a customer is unhappy with the end product, and the whole project has to start over from the beginning.

So, a new method emerged called rapid application development (RAD). In many ways, RAD was the opposite of the waterfall method.

RAD is based mainly on prototypes, meaning that the goal is to produce a working version of the application as quickly as possible and continuously iterate after that. The application development team and the customer work very closely with each other throughout the process. RAD teams are usually small and only involve experienced developers skilled in many disciplines. If a project needs to divert from the original plan, RAD SDLC should be able to accommodate that easily.

In the RAD model, as each iteration is completed, the product gets more and more refined. The early prototypes are often very rough but show what can be. Each iteration then looks more like the finished product.


  • RAD's advantages are a quick, highly flexible team and a close customer relationship.

  • RAD will be able to accommodate changes much faster than Waterfall.

  • It is also never too attached to a prototype and is always willing to change it to suit the needs of the customer.


  • RAD feature requires highly skilled (and highly paid) programmers to work on a project that may change in complexity by the day.

  • There’s also less adherence to deadlines and more focus on adding features, which can extend delivery dates.

  • RAD examples show that it requires a lot of input from customers who may not always be available or know what they need. Additionally, for some applications, having a prototype is not useful without seeing the entire product.

RAD is a great application development method for:

  • An experienced team of developers

  • A highly engaged customer

  • A flexible delivery date

  • Pressing business

Agile Methodology

Agile app development methodology

Agile application development is similar to RAD but includes some changes to make it more suitable for larger projects. Agile is iterative, like RAD, but focuses on building features individually. Each feature is built methodically by the team, but the customer is involved in seeing the features and signing off on them before the next feature is developed.

Agile uses sprints or when a certain feature should be built, tested, and presented. It tries to incorporate the entire SDLC for a feature into each sprint. Ideally, this helps stick to a planned schedule and allows frequent reviews. Agile doesn't focus on prototypes but only presents completed work after the sprint. So while the customer is informed more often than Waterfall, the customer only ever sees finished work, unlike RAD.

Agile project management methodology is also more team or squad-based. With RAD, you are working directly with a programmer. With Agile, the application development team will include testers, UX designers, technical writers, and others.

Learn more: RAD vs Agile vs Waterfall

Agile is a great application development methodology when:

  • The project is large enough to break down into several sprints

  • You have a lot of specialists who can work on a team together

  • The bulk of the project is known ahead of time and can be planned out

  • You have good project leaders in place

How do app development methodologies differ from each other?

Different app development methodologies take different approaches to planning, team collaboration, testing, and delivery. The teams must consider these factors and choose the relevant methodology that best fits their criteria.


Different methodologies take different approaches to app development. Waterfall, for example, is a linear and sequential approach, while Agile is an iterative and flexible approach.


Methodologies differ in their approach to planning. Waterfall requires a detailed plan upfront, while Agile plans incrementally and adapts as the project progresses.


Some methodologies, such as Agile, are highly flexible and allow for changes and adjustments to be made throughout the development process. Others, such as Waterfall, have less flexibility and are better suited for projects with a fixed scope.

Team collaboration:

Methodologies differ in their emphasis on collaboration between team members. Agile emphasizes collaboration and communication between team members, while Waterfall is less focused on collaboration.

Testing and quality assurance:

Methodologies differ in their approach to testing and quality assurance. Waterfall emphasizes testing at the end of each phase, while Agile emphasizes testing throughout development.


Methodologies differ in their approach to delivery. Waterfall focuses on delivering the final product at the end of the development process, while Agile focuses on delivering working software throughout the development process.

Factors to consider when choosing the right app development methodology

It's important to consider the following factors and choose the methodology that best fits the needs of your project, team, and client.

Factors to choose the app development methodology

Project scope:

The complexity and size of the project can help determine which methodology will work best. Agile methodologies work well for smaller projects with a rapidly changing scope, while Waterfall may be better suited for larger, more structured projects.

Development team:

Consider the size, location, and skill level of the development team. Some methodologies, such as Agile, require a highly skilled and motivated team with good communication skills.

Time constraints:

The timeline for completing the project can help determine which methodology is best. Agile methodologies are typically faster, allowing for quicker iterations and more frequent releases, while Waterfall can be slower due to its linear approach.

Client requirements:

If the client wants to be involved in the development process and make changes along the way, Agile may be a better fit. If the client has a specific set of requirements and a fixed budget, Waterfall may be the way to go.

Risks and uncertainties:

The level of uncertainty and risk associated determines the project's success rate. Agile methodologies are better suited for projects with a higher level of uncertainty or risk, as they allow for more flexibility and adjustments along the way.


The project budget can also impact the choice of methodology. Agile methodologies can be more expensive due to the need for a highly skilled and motivated team, while Waterfall may be more cost-effective due to its structured approach.

Why is Kissflow the ideal platform for your application development needs?

In an ideal world, every application could be built quickly with RAD characteristics. Just work with a single programmer and immediately see results. However, this isn't always possible for large projects and applications and requires breaking the project up with agile or Waterfall methods.

Kissflow is a rapid application development platform to help you build automated process applications. These applications are very easy for most programmers to build and shouldn't require a large team. With Kissflow, you can build these applications even without the requirement of a very experienced programmer. Any business user who knows the use case of the process very well should be able to make the application quickly.

A speciality platform like Kissflow can help you develop an app in less than an hour as the entire structure is ready to accommodate you.

If you are looking for a quick way to develop an app for automated processes, try Kissflow RAD and see how rapid app building can be!

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Which methodology is best for app development?

There is no "best" methodology for app development, as each method has advantages and disadvantages. The best methodology for app development depends on the project's specific needs, such as scope, timeline, budget, and client requirements. It's essential to carefully evaluate the factors before choosing the suitable methodology to ensure the project's success.

What are the benefits of implementing application development methodology?

Implementing application development methodology offers several benefits, including:

  • Improved collaboration

  • Organized framework

  • Faster development

  • Better quality

  • Flexibility

  • Increased transparency

  • Reduced risk

What are the key stages in app development methodology?

Critical stages in most app development processes include:

  • Planning

  • Design

  • Development

  • Testing

  • Deployment

  • Maintenance

App development is an iterative process, and these stages may overlap or be revisited as the app evolves.