Iterative and incremental development models are advanced software development approaches for building great products. But many times, organizations and product managers take these two models as a single process. In reality, both iterative and incremental techniques are different from one another.

In this post, you will learn iterative and incremental definitions with examples. Moreover, you will also figure out how to build a software solution by mixing Agile methodology with iterations and increments.

What are iterative and incremental development models?

However, to get a full grasp of the term iterative and incremental development, you need to split them into two parts:

01 Iterative And Incremental

 

Iterative development

The iterative process definition refers to systematic software development activities repeated in several cycles, and this repetition is called “iterations.” Each iteration gives a new and improved version of the software until the optimum digital product is accomplished.

Incremental development

The incremental definition is the opposite of iterative development. The incremental approach consists of breaking down the entire development process into small and more manageable segments called increments.

It’s a step-by-step improvement procedure where each increment is built on the former version. In other words, software built and delivered in pieces is known as incremental development.

Iterative and incremental development approaches complement each other naturally. That is why they are frequently used together to amplify effectiveness and deliver timely projects.

Understanding the difference between iterative and incremental development

We have defined the iterative and incremental development approaches in the above part of the article. So it is time to make a more solid concept of this process in your mind. 

02 Iterative And Incremental

 

Developing a software iteratively 

The iterative approach means that the final product is built through diverse iterations. An ideal example of this development method is design thinking. Therefore, the iterative model includes a series of activities, such as framing, idea brainstorming, and reflection, in a proper sequence.

Furthermore, the sequence is executed iteratively or repeatedly. This allows you to get closer to the correct, final, and desired product, which we often call a “prototype.” Once you are over with a prototype, you create the first Minimal Viable Product (MVP)  to gain user feedback. The iterative model has a flexible scope and permits you to achieve customer value through iterations once the solution is delivered.

Also Read: 7 Steps on Building a Great MVP

Developing a software incrementally 

Concerning the incrementality definition, the approach excludes iterations. Since the final product is delivered in smaller parts, all activities, like designing, building, testing, and deployment, are carried out once. Incremental development has a fixed approach but is a great method of delivering products quickly.

How to apply iterative and incremental development when building a digital solution?

Iterative development makes teams moderately build up the functions and features of a solution. However, they don’t wait for each task to be completed before releasing it. First, they launch an elementary version of each feature. And later, they use the iterative approach to modify or rectify features per customers’ feedback. Contrarily, incremental development compels development teams to slice the product into different but fully working parts.

03 Iterative And Incremental

 

Now, let’s understand iterative and incremental development through an example of an eCommerce platform.

Example of iterative development when building an eCommerce website

Consider building an eCommerce website through iterative development. The first release will have a primary version of all the needed functionalities. For instance, a search option, product descriptions, a shopping cart, a checkout page, and customer reviews.

The team will work on improving the existing functionalities in the second iteration. These changes will be based on customers’ and stakeholders’ feedback and other sources, like analytics. The development team will add new ideas in each iterative release and remove low-value or inessential areas from the eCommerce solution.

Example of incremental development when building an eCommerce website

Unlike the iterative approach, an incremental development team will release the first increment with a single functionality to purchase a product. This increment will have options like product search, product information, add-to-cart, and checkout.

Development teams will then release a second increment with another single feature. For instance, a functionality allows customers to “favorite” their desired products. Similarly, the third released increment may include a customer review functionality.

Also, it is important to remember that each increment will only be released after the functions are fully tested and completed. So be it three increments or thirteen, the rule stays the same when you will be developing software incrementally.

What happens when Agile methodology meets iterative and incremental development?

Did you know there’s another way to software development where you can combine iterative and incremental development with Agile methods, like scrum? And the results are super incredible. 

Iterative and Incremental Development

 

Also Read: The Agile Leadership Trio: the 3 pillars of a scrum team

As a matter of fact, the iterative and incremental development model is deeply associated with Agile development. So, building a digital product through an incremental approach requires delivering software in increments, also called “sprints.”

Each increment is an outcome of several iterations to create small but error-free parts, often called product backlog items or user stories. And the final iterative product is delivered in pieces. This togetherness helps you add customer value to the product through frequent deliveries based on users’ feedback. As a result, you can offer better performing and problem-solving solutions according to their needs.

Example of iterative and incremental development through Agile methodology

In view of the eCommerce website example, the iterative and incremental development with an Agile approach will split the project into increments. For instance, wireframe building and product uploading. Then, the software development team will repeat prototyping and testing cycles to refine all website functionalities through iteration.

Conclusion

There is a fine line between iterative and incremental development. The iterative model allows you to build software in repeated cycles. At the same time, the incremental approach enables you to create solutions in short increments. And when both methods are joined with an Agile approach, you enjoy high-end digital products delivered on the double.

At Slash, we use agile methodologies to provide the best output based on your requirements. From ideation to creation and final delivery, our scrum masters ensure the building of high-quality digital products. We love iterations because we craft user-centric solutions with features to take the market by storm. Contact us to learn more about our pricing models.

Promsopeak Sean Nuon
Sean Promsopeak Nuon
Lead engineer
Sean is technology-driven and passionate about working with technology that helps people. Now he finds himself as an executive member of Slash, executing the technology operation side from an entrepreneurship point of view. He has over 9 years of working experience dealing with technical problems, project management and team mindset building. He splits time between Solution Architect & Lead developer for enterprise clients and as part of the management team, he helps build future-proof architecture, define quality standards, team culture, and hiring & training practices.
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