Project ManagementIntroduction to Feature Driven Development

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Feature-driven Development

Feature Driven Development (FDD) is a software development methodology and process that accentuates the continual delivery of features to provide business value. With this approach, software development teams can adapt quickly to changes in customer needs and preferences, allowing them to be more proactive in responding to changing customer requirements and expectations.

In this programming tutorial, we will explore the basics of FDD and how it can help your team create successful software projects.

Read: Project Management Software and Tools for Developers

What is Feature Driven Development (FDD)?

Feature Driven Development is a software development methodology that emphasizes the importance of delivering working features on time and within budget, while also allowing for feedback from stakeholders throughout the process.

Feature Driven Development can help teams to keep their software development cycle (SDLC) organized and on track, which can lead to greater customer satisfaction. Features are developed as small, independently deployable units and are incrementally added to the system.

Feature Driven Development is an Agile method that bridges the gap between the traditional approaches in a waterfall process and emergent processes in extreme programming, Scrum, and behaviour-driven development processes.

Like Scrum, in FDD, the customer (or the “project business owner”) is expected to participate in both the initial design meeting and the retrospectives at the end of each iteration, both of which are mandatory.

FDD can be a great way to ensure projects stay on track and on budget, helping teams deliver quality products faster than ever before, thus enabling teams to stay successful in today’s fast-paced world.

In a nutshell, Feature-driven development has the following characteristics:

  • Is short and follows an iterative approach
  • Fosters Quality
  • Facilitates the frequent release of features in each iteration
  • Provides accurate progress information

You can learn more about Agile software development in our tutorial: What is the Agile Development Methodology?

What are the Benefits of Feature-driven Development?

FDD emphasizes breaking down large projects into smaller, manageable steps and delivering them in quick iterations. This iterative approach helps to reduce the risks associated with software development and allows for greater control over the development process.

Feature-driven development helps to ensure that each feature is fully tested, quality-checked, and delivered within the deadlines set by the team. Additionally, this strategy can help teams budget their time and resources better so that each feature is completed in a timely manner.

This process makes sure that all stakeholders are able to have input and feedback during the entire development cycle. The end result is a high-performance, high-functioning piece of software that meets the needs of all stakeholders.

What are the Disadvantages of Feature-driven Development?

Despite the benefits it offers, there are certain downsides to using Feature-driven development. FDD can be more complex and time-consuming to implement. Another constraint is that FDD depends on small incremental features to make progress.

Hence, there can be dependencies between the components. FDD provides limited visibility and control, which can become obstacles to delivering a product that meets customers’ expectations and aligns with the goals and objectives of your project.

What are the Stages of Feature-driven Development?

The Feature-driven development process consists of five stages:

  • Develop an Overall Model: The first step is to develop an overall model of the system. Feature-driven development relies on domain object modeling. In domain object modeling, you model domain-specific ideas and relationships. First off, you should outline the domain model. The blueprint for the project will be this object model.
  • Build a Feature List: Once the overall model is complete, the next step is to build a list of features that need to be implemented. Ideally, a feature should be developed in less than two weeks. You should split features that take more than two weeks into smaller ones. Features should be prioritized by business value, so the most critical stuff gets done first.
  • Plan by Feature: The third stage is to create a plan for each feature on the list. Feature planning is the process of identifying and prioritizing the features that will be delivered in each release. You should ensure that all team members participate in the discussion to determine potential risks, constraints, etc. The estimate should also include a breakdown of how long and how much it will cost to implement each feature.
  • Design by Feature: The fourth stage is design for each feature, create diagrams that show how the feature will be implemented, and how it will interact with other features. As the last step in the design process, you should conduct a design review session with the entire team. A domain expert should confirm that the design solves the customer’s problem.
  • Build by Feature: The fifth and final stage is coding the list of features. This step should follow the designs created in the previous step. In order to implement the design, all the elements that are necessary to support the design are implemented. Each feature should be tested and deployed before moving on to the next one.

Feature-driven Development versus Scrum

As Agile techniques, FDD and Scrum both place an emphasis on adaptability, collaboration, and the delivery of small, incremental features as a means of ensuring agility. To deliver a particular feature, the FDD methodology requires you to follow a series of steps which can make things complex.

The FDD software development process is more rigid in its approach to the planning and management of the software development process, whereas Scrum is more adaptive and flexible.

You can learn more about Scrum in our tutorial: What is Scrum?

Feature-driven Development versus Agile

Feature-driven development is a more incremental and iterative approach, while Agile is more focused on delivering working software quickly with strong emphasis on communication between the clients and the developers.

Agile development, on the other hand, relies less on formal meetings and documentation, and instead focuses on delivering code that meets customer requirements.

How Feature-driven Development Works

FDD combines elements of the Unified Process and Agile software development, and is geared towards large-scale projects. Each development cycle in FDD begins with the identification of the next most important features that need to be implemented.

These features are then prioritized, and teams are formed to work on the implementation of each feature. Features are developed using short Iterative cycles, and each feature must go through a series of defined steps before it can be considered complete. Once all the features on the list have been developed and tested, the software is now ready to be released.

Final Thoughts on Feature-Driven Development

Feature-driven development has been shown to be an effective methodology for delivering working software quickly, while still allowing for flexibility and changes as needed.

FDD, Scrum, and Agile have their merits and demerits. The choice between them, (i.e., which of these should be used) depends largely on requirements, constraints, and challenges of your development team and software project.

You learn more about software development methodologies in our tutorial: Top 10 Programming Methodologies.

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