Iterative Model in SDLC: An In-Depth Look

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In this article, we'll dive deep into one of the most popular Software development life cycle (SDLC) model - The Iterative model, a popular approach to software development that focuses on incremental improvements and frequent feedback. We'll explore the advantages and disadvantages of the iterative model, its relationship with the triple constraint, and how it compares to other SDLC models.

Iterative Model in SDLC: An In-Depth Look Iterative Model in SDLC: An In-Depth Look

Table of Contents

Introduction to the Iterative Model

The iterative model is a software development approach that involves breaking a project into small, manageable iterations. Each iteration is a self-contained mini-project that results in a working version of the software. The development team then uses feedback from stakeholders to refine and improve the product in subsequent iterations. This process continues until the final product meets the desired requirements.

Advantages of the Iterative Model

  1. Flexible and adaptable: The iterative model can easily accommodate changes in requirements as the project progresses, making it ideal for projects with evolving or uncertain requirements.
  2. Early feedback and validation: Stakeholders can provide valuable feedback early in the development process, ensuring that the final product aligns with their needs.
  3. Risk reduction: By addressing high-risk or complex features early in the development process, the iterative model helps to reduce project risk.
  4. Easier project management: With smaller, more manageable iterations, project management becomes more straightforward and less overwhelming.
  5. Improved quality: Frequent testing and feedback allow developers to identify and fix issues more quickly, leading to a higher-quality final product.

Disadvantages of the Iterative Model

  1. Requires disciplined planning: The iterative model demands careful planning and organization to manage iterations and ensure that the project stays on track.
  2. Less predictable timeline: It can be challenging to predict the exact number of iterations required to complete the project, making it difficult to estimate the project's completion date.
  3. Requires frequent communication: The iterative model relies on constant communication between team members and stakeholders, which can be time-consuming and challenging to manage.
  4. Potential for scope creep: The flexibility of the iterative model may lead to scope creep if stakeholders continue to request changes or additions throughout the development process.
1. Flexibility to accommodate changes1. Requires disciplined planning and management
2. Early feedback from stakeholders2. It may not be suitable for small projects
3. Better risk management3. It can be time-consuming due to repeated iterations
4. Improved customer satisfaction4. More complex and difficult to manage
5. Allows incremental delivery of features5. This can lead to scope creep if not managed properly
6. Easier to identify and fix errors during the cycle6. Requires frequent communication and collaboration

Table 1: Advantages and Disadvantages of The Iterative Model in the Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC)

Iterative Model and the Triple Constraint

The triple constraint refers to the three primary factors that determine the success of a project: scope, time, and cost. In the iterative model, these factors are interrelated and must be carefully balanced to ensure project success. The flexible nature of the iterative model allows for adjustments to the scope as the project progresses, but this may affect the overall time and cost of the project.

Comparing the Iterative Model to Other SDLC Models

The iterative model has its unique advantages and disadvantages, which set it apart from other SDLC models, such as the waterfall and agile models.

Iterative vs. Waterfall Model

The waterfall model is a linear approach to software development, where each phase is completed before moving on to the next. The iterative model, on the other hand, involves repeated cycles of development and refinement. Here are some key differences between the two:

  • Flexibility: The iterative model is more flexible than the waterfall model, as it allows for changes in requirements and feedback during development.
  • Feedback: The iterative model enables early feedback from stakeholders, while the waterfall model only allows for feedback after the entire project is completed.
  • Risk management: The iterative model is better at managing risk, as high-risk features are addressed early in the development process, while the waterfall model does not allow for risk mitigation once the project has started.
Comparison PointWaterfall ModelIterative Model
1. ApproachLinear, sequential processIncremental, repeated cycles
2. ChangesDifficult to accommodate after the project has startedEasily accommodates changes during the development process
3. Risk ManagementLimited risk management, risks are addressed upfrontBetter risk management through iterative feedback
4. Customer InvolvementLimited, mostly during requirements gatheringFrequent, with continuous feedback from stakeholders
5. Error Detection & FixingLate in the development process, it can be costly to fixEarly detection and fixing of errors during iterations
6. Project Size & ComplexitySuitable for small to medium projects with well-defined scopeSuitable for complex projects with evolving requirements

Table 2: Comparison between The Waterfall Model and The Iterative Model in the Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC)


The iterative model is a valuable approach to software development that offers flexibility, early feedback, and risk reduction. However, it also comes with its own set of challenges, such as the need for disciplined planning and frequent communication. By understanding the advantages and disadvantages of the iterative model and how it compares to other SDLC models, you can choose the approach that best suits your project needs and goals.

Based on my experience, most of the projects have moved away from the waterfall model and are moving to one or other form of an iterative model for software development.


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