SDLC Methodologies and Their Implications on Software Outsourcing Model Selection

Thus far, we’ve looked at the various “shores” of outsourcing—their pros, cons, and when to use them based on factors like business goals, deadlines, and whether you’re looking for a close collaborator or a skilled partner that “does their own thing.”

Software development lifecycle methodologies (SDLCs) are another critical factor to consider as you start comparing your options.

SDLC methodologies define how a team works and when each phase comes into play. They aim to set expectations around communication and collaboration, and what resources they’ll need to execute on your vision–all of which have significant implications for which “shore” you should choose for your next project.

In this article, we’ll explore some common software development methodologies that an outsourcing company could use to develop your project.

What are SDLC Methodologies?

Software development lifecycle (SDLC) methodology is a term that describes the systematic process for building and delivering software applications.

SDLC methodologies consist of a detailed plan that explains how to deliver the best possible product in the shortest amount of time. SDLCs span a wide range of methodologies but generally include the following steps.

  • Requirements analysis
  • Planning
  • Design
  • Development
  • Quality Testing
  • Deployment

While most approaches feature those steps, different types of SDLC methodologies incorporate them in various ways and sometimes, in a different order.

Take, for example, Agile and Waterfall SDLC methodologies. The former approach involves tasks performed in parallel, with testing and feedback embedded throughout the entire process, whereas the latter takes it one step at a time, following a linear progression.

With countless SDLC methodologies–and variations on each of them–available, we’re going to focus on the two most common methodologies developers use today–Waterfall and Agile.

Waterfall

Waterfall is a sequential software development methodology where each stage in the development process must be completed before the next one begins.

In this model, the process starts by gathering and documenting all project requirements. From there, the client develops a linear plan that lays out–step-by-step–how to meet those requirements and deliver the best possible end-product.

Most developers have moved away from Waterfall due to several disadvantages, including slower time-to-market, delayed quality testing, and the need for rework.

Waterfall leaves little room for unexpected changes to the project. Meaning, developers miss out on the opportunity to adjust requirements based on customer feedback or changes in the market. As a result, it may deliver an end-product that is no longer considered relevant or innovative to the end-user.

This approach works best for short, milestone-focused linear projects, offering a thorough, structured process that developers can follow with minimal input and oversight from the client. In other words, if the project is predictable, Waterfall might be a solid option.

On the flip side, if there’s any uncertainty about the project vision, requirements, or the possibility of a change in scope, Waterfall falls apart fast.

While this methodology can often cause delays and additional costs due to its lack of efficiency, its main benefit is that it allows companies to maintain control over projects. This holds true, even when daily communication isn’t possible.

If you’re outsourcing a project where it makes sense to use Waterfall, offshoring may be the best option. Factors like skills, the potential for cost-savings, and the ability to follow directions are more important than finding a collaborator that can easily work with your in-house team.

It is true that Waterfall requires a significant amount of upfront planning. That said, once you’ve nailed the setup, the outsourced team takes over, and you can focus on core business activities.

Provided you know exactly what you want and what it takes to get there, Waterfall offers predictable start and end dates. Plus, it ensures consistency, regardless of developer turnover.

Agile

Agile is an iterative methodology characterized by its short, ongoing release cycles, incremental value, and focus on driving continuous improvements. It’s team-based and time-sensitive, and places a high value on ongoing stakeholder engagement, streamlining the collaboration process and setting a sustainable development pace.

Testing is embedded at every stage, and customer feedback is collected and implemented throughout the entire development lifecycle–ensuring that projects stay focused on creating value for the end-user.

With Agile, the goal is to give teams a system for creating software applications that match customer requirements, systematically navigate rapid change, identify and fix issues before they turn into bigger problems.

Unlike Waterfall, where black-and-white documentation can make or break a project, Agile aims to spend minimal time in the design phase. It is designed to adapt to changing requirements, ensuring that the end-product is relevant to the target market at the time of release.

The Agile methodology works best for projects where the client has uncertainty on the requirements, wants to be involved in the development process, or wishes to get to market as quickly as possible.

While Agile offers a long list of benefits, this methodology requires more involvement from stakeholders. All parties need to ensure the right features are delivered with the right priority and the right modifications are introduced while having a complete understanding of the implications of those in regard to time and effort. If the client’s internal team doesn’t have a solid definition of the desired outcomes, implementing Agile would be a significant challenge.

Because Agile requires close collaboration and experienced developers, on-site, onshore, or nearshore models work best–in that order.

Why Methodology Matters When Choosing a Partner

Each methodology requires different levels of communication and daily interaction. Based on your needs, you might choose an outsourcing firm from a specific region or time zone.

For example, Agile and Waterfall SDLC methodologies fall on opposite sides of the spectrum. Agile requires hands-on collaboration between teams and the communication tools to support it, though you can get started on a project before defining end-to-end spec requirements.

By contrast, Waterfall requires you to know exactly what you want and how to get there. You’ll want to create detailed instructions for each stage in the development cycle so that you can take a hands-off approach once the project is underway and feel confident you’ll end up with the product you had in mind.

Waterfall can work very well for offshore projects if requirements are clearly defined in advance.

If you’re planning a collaborative project that follows Agile best practices, the closer to home, the better. It’s incredibly difficult to do Agile offshore–even with a team of skilled experts who follow every best practice in the manifesto. For Agile–on-site, onshore, and nearshore–in that order–are your best options.

Ultimately, you should answer the question of “where” first and then start narrowing your search to find companies experienced in your chosen methodology.

One of our Directors of Solutions Engineering, Angel Almada, says, “Methodology selection and partner selection are closely connected. Customers typically need an outsource partner that can increase time-to-market and reduce costs. Partnering with an outsourcing company that has mastered the client’s preferred methodology has a direct impact on achieving those goals.”

That said, your decision shouldn’t be based on methodology alone. SDLC methodologies are more important for collaborative projects where the client is highly involved in the process.

Tiempo’s Cesar Galindo says, “organizations tend to look for experienced, innovative, and adaptable people. I’ve found that a lot of clients look for these elements first and then adapt them to their development methodology.”

For offshore companies working on projects with little involvement, the focus should be on finding a partner with processes that help you achieve project goals. For example, a provider using an iterative approach may be better suited to helping you get to market faster than a competitor that prefers Waterfall.

In this case, asking a vendor about methodologies is less about your preferred working style and more about making sure you’re working with a team that knows what it takes to achieve your desired outcomes.

Final Thoughts

Methodology plays a major role in helping brands determine which outsourcing model is most effective for achieving the goal of each project–thus putting organizations on a path toward realizing the benefits of a hybrid outsourcing strategy.

To learn more about how nearshoring and the SDLC methodologies it supports, contact a Tiempo expert, and we’ll help you weigh your options.