Predictive vs Adaptive Development

Predictive vs Adaptive Development

The software development industry continues to grow and transform into simplified and more manageable processes thanks to innovative and emerging tech trends and practices. For these reasons, developers must have adequate skills and knowledge to choose the best method, technology, and tools to enhance the success of product development.

Today, adaptive and predictive development are the two popular software development methods used by developers for both startup and established enterprise solutions. Choosing between adaptive and predictive methods can be tricky. Both have their best sides, pitfalls, and use cases. That is why this guide explores all you need to know about predictive vs. adaptive development in the software development life cycle.

Overview of adaptive development: what is adaptive development?

Also known as agile methodology, adaptive development is a flexible software development strategy that enables developers to implement changes and resolve uncertainties during the development process. Ideally, it is a continuous and iterative development process that gives developers the flexibility to change some processes during the development process.

Since adaptive development is a continuous process, clients are part of the project as they give regular feedback and allow developers to implement the changes based on the feedback received.

Characteristics of Adaptive Development

Some of the unique features or characteristics of adaptive development include the following:

  • Mission focused

Adaptive development keeps the ultimate focus on the main mission or the adjustment of goals depending on the project’s needs. As a result, every feature or action taken plays a big role in actualizing the goals of the project.

The development teams keep a keen eye on work or processes that will enable an organization to achieve its mission.

  • Iteration

In adaptive development, the processes and features are developed and released in small segments that are easy to manage. The teams don’t focus on completing the bigger project but working on smaller and easy to manage increments.

Under each task, the teams must plan, develop, test, and then deploy, which gives room for continuous improvement based on the feedback collected.

  • Feature-Based

Since adaptive development is an iteration process, the team’s main focus is to deliver defined functionalities or features under each development stage. These features and functionalities are prioritized according to their core values and what the users prefer.

This strategy enables developers to build as they improve the products in a flexible manner.

  • Continuous Improvement

In the adaptive development process, the teams learn continuously and improve the product according to the industry trends and practices and customer needs.

Throughout the improvement processes, the teams can seamlessly evaluate the performance and functionalities of the product, determine areas that need more work, and collect feedback, then devise a plan on how to improve the product.

  • Change tolerant

Adaptive development works with changing market trends, technology practices, and a shift in customer needs. This gives the developers ultimate flexibility to respond and integrate changes in the product to meet what customers refer to and to fit in the competitive market.

Advantages of adaptive development

So, why would the development team opt for the adaptive method and not predictive? Below are the top benefits of using an adaptive development strategy:

  • Enhanced Collaboration

Adaptive development embraces collaboration between users, stakeholders, and developers throughout the development process. This enhances communication and feedback collection that translates to transparency and openness which enhances the success of the project.

  • Better risk management

In software development, risks are inevitable. However, with appropriate measures and strategies, it becomes easy for teams to employ measures to mitigate such risks.

Adaptive development embraces regular testing and feedback collection, which enables developers to identify weak areas and improve them in a timely manner before failing, which can be costly in the later development stages.

  • Flexibility & responsiveness

One significant advantage of adaptive development, especially to the teams is flexibility. Unlike the traditional methods, adaptive development allows teams to review, adjust, and respond to the changing project dynamics and requirements, be it market trends or technology changes, without affecting the whole development process.

In the end, the teams can collect user feedback and develop products that align with user needs, hence enhancing the success of the entire project.

  • Adaptive planning

With adaptive planning, developers can determine how to allocate resources and avoid wastage, how prioritize features & tasks, and determine the best project scope according to the changing requirements.

Therefore, the teams can change their development approach in real time as they respond to changes, thus developing a product that aligns with the company objectives and user preferences.

  • Continuous Improvement

In adaptive development, product development is developed and released in small, manageable segments. This gives room to developers to plan and embrace continuous improvement based on the real market state and feedback collected.

Continuous improvement eliminates the possibility of complex projects failing in the end, which equates to wasted time and resources.

  • Transparency

Transparency is what defines adaptive development. The teams embrace open and regular communication on updates, ensuring every member has an overview of the project’s progress and direction. Transparency creates a good relationship between the teams and promotes trust among team members.

  • Faster Time-to-Market

Adaptive development enhances resource maximization and a faster development process, thus accelerating time-to-market.

By breaking the bigger project into small and manageable segments, the teams can release completed segments in phases and enjoy competitive advantages.

  • Embracing Innovation

Adaptive development, just like its name, adapts smoothly to the changing tech trends and practices. As a result, the teams can implement innovative and creative techniques to solve some issues and improve the overall project by integrating new ideas and concepts in the development process.

Disadvantages of adaptive development

While adaptive development gives developers great flexibility and an opportunity to improve the final product, it has some pitfalls, which include the following:

  • Documentation challenges

Since adaptive development embraces changes throughout the development process, keeping up with the documentation, which is a significant requirement in product development, is a challenge. The lack of full documentation can become a challenge to developers.

  • Resource intensive

Adaptive development embraces continuous development, planning, and collaboration. All these require resources from the teams and time to actualize most of the processes.

  • Complexity

Adaptive development employs an iterative process, which can be a complex process, especially for huge projects that require many features and integrations.

  • Takes more time

It takes more time to develop a product via adaptive development since the teams must embrace continuous communication and collaboration, which takes a lot of time.

  • Quality concerns

Since both the clients and development teams have to collaborate throughout the development process, integrating different ideas and concepts might, in one way or the other, impact the quality of the final product.

Overview of predictive development: What is predictive development?

predictive vs adaptive approach

Also known as the incremental development method, the predictive method involves evaluating a detailed overview of the final product and determining the best processes and plans to follow to enhance the success of the project.

The developers, therefore, have to determine the costs, scope, and timeframe in the early stages of development.

The waterfall model is the most common predictive development method in which one development stage paves the way for the next development phase without overlapping.

Advantages of Predictive Development

With predictive development, the teams get to enjoy a wide range of benefits, including the following:

  • Defined budgets and project timeline

In predictive development, the teams analyze the entire project and come up with a defined budget and timeline it will take to complete a project. This gives the teams an easy time to plan and make maximum use of the available resources. What’s more, once the teams give a client an estimated budget, the client doesn’t have to worry about extra costs once the project is on.

  • Easy to follow

The teams, when using predictive development plan and set the processes in the early stages even before the project begins. This gives the developers an easy time following the planned steps of accomplishing a project.

  • One phase at a time

In predictive development, the completion of one phase is what paves the way to the next phase. Therefore, the teams can seamlessly plan how to finish one phase as they move to the next one without overlapping other stages.

  • Well-defined milestones and goals

The workflow, goals, and milestones are defined clearly before the project starts in predictive development. This enables the developers to organize themselves, ensuring they deliver the project within the required timeline while maintaining the set budget.

  • Better project management & monitoring

It is easy to monitor and manage a project under predictive development since the planning is done in the early stages, where the budget and delivery timelines are specified.

Disadvantages of Predictive Development

Just like adaptive development, predictive development has a set of benefits as well as pitfalls. Below are some of the notable disadvantages of predictive development:

  • It is challenging to implement changes and fix issues

In predictive development, the teams can only test the product in the final stages. Therefore, if there are any changes, it becomes hard to adjust and implement them. Similarly, if they find issues or bugs in the later stages, it becomes hard to fix such issues when the product is already completed.

  • Costly

Predictive development takes time to release the final product because of the planning in the early stages. Besides, if issues and bugs are identified in the final development stages, fixing the issues is costly.

  • Not ideal for huge and complex projects

Predictive development is only suitable for smaller and easy-to-plan projects. Complex and huge projects require regular changes and improvements to ensure the final product is successful. Therefore, predictive development is only limited to specific projects.

Predictive vs Adaptive Development: Differences

Having described the two software development methods, what makes them differ? Below is a one-on-one comparison between adaptive and predictive development methods in terms of flexibility, collaboration, workflow processes, and risk management:

  • Flexibility

Adaptive development gives the development team total flexibility throughout the development process. Ideally, the project improves over time with the integration of creative ideas, concepts, and emerging technologies. The goal is to produce a product that aligns with current industry trends and practices while meeting end-user expectations.

Predictive development, on the other hand, lacks the flexibility. The teams plan and set the processes they have to stick with from the beginning until when they finish the project. So, unlike adaptive development, predictive development requires initial planning and following the plan strictly.

  • Collaboration

Adaptive development requires regular and constant collaboration throughout the development process. The teams must communicate and share ideas & concepts on how to improve the product with the changing requirements and industry practices. What’s more, the clients are involved as they also share ideas and preferences to enhance the final product functionalities.

Predictive development, on the other hand, requires less communication and collaboration throughout the development process. The development team under the predictive model only works on the next project’s phase once the previous one is complete.

Therefore, there is no close collaboration between the teams. For instance, the development teams can only start their work once the design teams finish their part. By the time the project is complete, there is less communication and collaboration. What’s more, feedback from clients is collected after the project is complete; hence there is less collaboration with the clients when the project is on.

  • Workflow process

There are no assumptions in adaptive development. The development teams under the adaptive method are open to creative and new ideas as the project moves on. As long as the teams have initial requirements, they work with them as they change and adjust them along the way.

Predictive development, on the other hand, follows a structured plan and process during the development process. They work under a specified budget and delivery timeline. The predictive model assumes that the team can study and define all the requirements before the project begins and follow the set guidelines strictly. When the planning and project requirements are defined, the teams involved break and work on their part in a sequential manner. Once one team finishes their part, the next team takes over.

  • Risk Management

In the adaptive method, the teams work under a continuous development and improvement approach. It becomes easy to identify and mitigate risks in the early stages of development. The continuous approach gives the teams an easy time to respond to such risks in a timely manner.

Predictive development, on the other hand, requires the teams to plan and identify possible risks before they begin a project. However, it becomes hard for the teams under the predictive model to identify emerging risks when the project is on, thus making it hard to manage risks in the later development stages.

Adaptive vs predictive development: which one should you choose?

Both adaptive and predictive development methods are unique in their own ways. Both have a set of advantages and disadvantages. Again, predictive development works best with specific projects, while adaptive development is a perfect choice for specific projects. It is upon the development teams to analyze and evaluate the appropriate method based on the project’s dynamics and overall requirements.

In any case, adaptive development is suitable for the following:

  • When project managers are experts in agile software development approaches
  • When handling complex projects that require regular changes
  • What handling a project whose industry is evolving at a speedy rate
  • When the project requires continuous experiments, creativity, and innovative ideas
  • When the development team doesn’t need to follow strict guidelines for the final product

Predictive development, on the other hand, is suitable under the following scenarios:

  • When the project manager only understands the predictive development method
  • When the project has detailed documentation to follow
  • When the project requirements and guidelines are defined and less likely to change
  • When the development teams understand how the final product should be
  • When the project is simple and clear


Both adaptive and predictive development are reliable software development methods. The question of which one is better depends on a specific project.

As a developer, always weigh the magnitude of the project before you select either a predictive or adaptive development method.

Any queries? Get in touch with our software development company – Aalpha information systems!


Written by:

Stuti Dhruv

Stuti Dhruv is a Senior Consultant at Aalpha Information Systems, specializing in pre-sales and advising clients on the latest technology trends. With years of experience in the IT industry, she helps businesses harness the power of technology for growth and success.

Stuti Dhruv is a Senior Consultant at Aalpha Information Systems, specializing in pre-sales and advising clients on the latest technology trends. With years of experience in the IT industry, she helps businesses harness the power of technology for growth and success.