Project management plays a main role in achieving project goals through the set of plans. However, to easily get your team organized and your project structured will need a project methodology. To know which software development method to choose, you need to understand the common project methodologies and know their differences. What are adaptive and predictive approaches? What’s the difference between them? And which one is better for your project?

Adaptive Development

Adaptive software development (ASD) is a design principle based on Agile Methodology, that enables developers to effectively adapt to changing requirements or respond to arising challenges by directly evolving the product at hand. It relies on the principle that the best way to successfully build complex software is by continuously learning throughout the project, without relying on previously fixed plans. In Adaptive Software Development, projects are composed of three phases:

  • Speculation
    Known as the planning phase in other methodologies, code developers in adaptive development analyze the nature of the software and understand the requirements of end-users. They define the mission statement, set end goals by setting mission artifacts and agree on mechanisms that help them adapt throughout the project. The mission artifacts include:
    • The project’s vision charter. A visual summary of the project’s business outcomes and market differentiators. 
    • The project’s datasheet. A short document that summarizes the project’s basic information for the team and client to refer to.
    • The product’s specification outline. A detailed inventory of the product specifications that define the product’s expected features.
  • Collaboration
    This phase is when developers carry out the development work. It emphasizes the importance of collaboration between team members and usually occurs in-house when developers combine what they are each working on. In the adaptive development of software, teams operate based on 4 core values: Mutual trust, mutual respect, mutual participation, and mutual commitment.
  • Learning
    The newest version of the software is released during this phase, which also generates bug and user reports. During this phase, the product is analyzed from both technical and customer perspectives. The performance of the team is also reviewed for opportunities for improvement.

Pros:

  • Adaptive development is flexible. Requirements can change throughout the project and iterations can be quickly implemented due to short sprints. 
  • It allows the product to evolve during development since the owner can modify requirements based on the process unfolding.
  • The involvement of the client in adaptive development allows the product to be built accurately.
  • It promotes customer satisfaction through fast and accurate delivery.

Cons:

  • Planning can be considered uncertain.
  • Adaptive development requires a small team of highly skilled and cross-skilled developers.
  • The whole project is dependent on the client’s choices. Hence, the project can easily change course if the client was not sure or communication was unclear.  
  • It requires extensive involvement of the client and close collaboration with the development team. Any lack of commitment from either side could impact the project.

Predictive Development

Predictive Software Development is based on the Waterfall Methodology, it relies on an early phase complete analysis and detailed breakdown of features and tasks for the entire development process. It emphasizes a linear progression from beginning to end. Developers who choose a predictive development process design, execute, and analyze every step of the product’s development until completion. The predictive approach focuses on planning, making strategies, analyzing and predicting risks, also determining the projected completion date. 

The predictive planning strategy uses milestones to control the whole development process. It is a very rigid model since new tasks only get activated once previous tasks are completed. The objective of predictive development is to complete the project as fast as possible, which is feasible if everything happens in time with optimal utilization of resources. However, predictive planning fails when a significant change or modification is required. This directly leads to project paralysis.

Therefore, the predictive development methodology is one of the best methods for projects that have regular standards and no scope for change. If somehow the project owner is unable to share their exact requirements clearly, the final product will need iterations, which can be time-consuming and incur additional costs.

Pros:

  • Predictive development identifies all requirements before proceeding with any step, which allows the developer to plan accurately before developing. 
  • It follows a structured method that helps in developing a systematic flow of processes.
  • There is no risk of deviations as everything is planned ahead.
  • Since developers work on small parts at a time until it matches requirements, any issues faced can be fixed at that particular stage.

    Cons:

    • Everything should be specifically designed before developing the model. 
    • Predictive development over utilizes the resources and can be time-consuming. 
    • The project might take more time to deliver since the planning phase and submission of the proposal phase take longer to complete.
    • Predictive development is challenging to change the direction of the project if at any point something goes wrong.
    • Once a stage is completed, it is difficult to go back and iterate anything.

    Adaptive Development Vs. Predictive Development – Which is Better?

    Neither one of the development methodologies is considered “better” than the other since each has its uses for specific types of projects. The choice depends on several factors that we mentioned earlier, that altogether suggest the most suitable approach for each project.  

    At Staggering ROI, we mostly relate to adaptive development, a combination between the Agile philosophy and the Scrum framework. Our team works on short sprints and regularly coordinates via daily Scrum meetings and bi-weekly assessment meetings intended to track progress, promote a quick workflow, and apply prompt iterations to the software as needed. We consider product owners a fundamental part of this methodology and closely involve them in our development processes

    However, we always weigh the pros and cons with respect to each project to choose the most effective and suitable solutions for our clients. Entrepreneurs are not necessarily technical experts. Therefore, we get to know our clients and understand their vision before suggesting the most appropriate model to adopt for their project.

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    FAQ

    When is it best to use Adaptive Development?

    • When clients’ requirements might change frequently. 
    • If the client is open to exploring and innovating the product along the way instead of sticking to rigid requirements.
    • The project team is small and flexible.
    • When the timeline is flexible.
    • The client or company is in an industry that is rapidly evolving.
    • The team leader is well experienced in agile methodology.

    When is it best to use Predictive Development?

    • If the team of developers previously worked on a similar project.
    • The project’s specifications will not change.
    • The project team is large and remotely distributed.
    • The development process is documented and shared with the product owner and all stakeholders.
    • The project manager is not experienced with other project methodologies.