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Software development methodologies. What they are and why you need them

Software development methodologies. What they are and why you need them

How can you handle all the tasks you receive on a daily basis? With the right method! Without a good strategy you may risk losing some tasks along the way or missing a delivery.

The watchword is: order.

What is a working method? 

A work method is the set of steps that make up the work process from start to finish. Its purpose is to help you organize the task by establishing a mental order.

 A good working method answers three main questions:

  • where do I start?
  • what do I do next?
  • have I succeeded?

You can choose the method that best suits your goals: there are so many of them and you can even customize them or create your own entirely. The important thing is to arrive at the time of delivery with a quality product and according to the customer’s desired (or tolerated) timeline. 

Below you will find some of the most popular methods to be inspired by. They are partly aimed at organizing your workload and partly at optimizing the time you have available to you

The main methodologies of software development

You’ve probably already heard of some of the methods below. In fact, their scope of use is very wide: depending on the case, it ranges from industrial production to a wide variety of third sector activities. In this article you can delve into some of the most popular methods in IT. 

Lean Development

Developed by Toyota, its purpose is to create value by reducing waste and effort. It is based on 7 principles: 

  • Eliminate waste, that is, anything that does not add any value to the product or customer
  • Improve learning to optimize the process. This means testing, sharing information with the team, etc. 
  • Delaying decisions as much as possible until you have the information you need
  • Delivering quickly to get feedback quickly and proceed with the next stages of development
  • Give confidence to the team so that everyone’s skills enable them to make the best decisions 
  • Build perceived (customers must have a clear vision of the product) and conceptual integrity (the product must be efficient, maintainable, flexible)
  • Have an overview of the production system and forge strong, defined relationships with various suppliers

Test-Driven Development

It is a development methodology that begins by setting up a set of tests even before starting to detail the code. At first, the tests will fail, and then achieve an increasing amount of positive results. 

This method takes some time; it is more of a process made up of cycles of refinement. Don’t worry, the advantage of this methodology is precisely that it amortizes post-delivery time, because at the end of it all you will have developed a high-quality product with a very small number of defects.

Agile Development

The basis of this methodology is the idea of releasing changes to the software little by little. The entire product is not delivered to the client, but small parts that are followed by feedback throughout the project life cycle. 

Concretely, what you will have to do is to focus on the micro-goals you need to achieve from time to time: create a new feature, optimize a database, change the style of a section of the site… This way you can focus your attention only on what you need at that moment. The client, for his part, will feel more involved in the project and will receive continuous updates.

The main methodologies for organizing your time

Alongside the methods for organizing your business, you can add some for optimizing your time management. What it means. Allocate each task the time it deserves, reducing moments spent wondering “What do I do now?” and distractions.

This does not mean that you will have to spend 8 uninterrupted hours typing frantically on the keyboard, but it does mean attributing a specific meaning to work time: there will be periods dedicated only to work, when you will have to devote all your concentration to a certain task and moments reserved for a break.

The goal is to arrive peacefully at the end of the day and have done everything you set out to do. Here are some pointers that might come in handy.

Trust the Tomato

Is maintaining consistency throughout the day a challenge? Then the tomato technique is what you need. Here’s how it works:

  1. Define what you need to do throughout the day
  2. Set a timer to 25 minutes (it doesn’t have to be shaped like a tomato) and work without distraction until it rings. This means you don’t have to look at your cell phone, check emails, get up to make coffee, etc.
  3. When the timer rings, stop and take a 5-minute break
  4. Set the timer back to 25 minutes and repeat this process until the end of the workday
  5. Every two hours you can take a break of 15 to 30 minutes

Use the Eisenhower matrix

Its goal is to help you manage time and allocate it first to priorities and then to the rest. The principle on which it is based is that urgent things are never important and important things are never urgent.

The matrix consists of four quadrants:

  1. First “To do” quadrant: here you are to enter all tasks that are urgent and need to be completed as quickly as possible
  2. Second “To schedule” quadrant: here you are to write down all the tasks that are not urgent, but remain important 
  3. Third quadrant “To be delegated“: here you have to list the tasks that are urgent, but are not important. You can delegate them to other team members, since they do not affect you directly or are so simple that they do not require special expertise
  4. Fourth “To be eliminated” quadrant: here you need to list the remaining tasks, as they are neither important nor urgent. You can deal with them in the queue of all the others

Remember Parkinson’s Law

The basis of the theory is this assumption: work expands until it takes up all the time available to complete it. Have you ever had to close a task within a few weeks and take all the time available to finish it, even if it was a few hours’ work? There, you procrastinated and did not take advantage of the best time to complete it.
Already becoming aware of Parkinson’s Law is one way to combat its effects, but you can adopt any other time management method.

Frontend vs Backend. To each his own methodology

Some methodologies apply better to frontend development than to backend development and vice versa. So depending on the type of programming you are involved in, choose the method that best suits your needs. 

For example, Test-Driven Development is an ideal method for backend developments, but is of little use for frontend ones: what automated tests can you set up to examine how well a site’s layout works or how well a new module displays?

Remember: the right method is the one that helps you achieve your goals.

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