The Software Life Cycle as six stage process by which new software is build and maintained.
A critical phase in the software development cycle. During this phase, the project is defined, everyone involved gets the proposal document for review and a risk analysis is performed on the project to address any threats during the Design and Development phase.
A document is being generated and outlines the functional characteristics of the project. A project plan and a design document are being developed to define the project requirements, such as number of employees involved in the project, employees skill set, schedules, etc. Policies are being developed to outline the software baselines, guidelines, standards and procedures. The security and performance requirements are being determined in this phase as well.
This phase addresses the hardware and physical layers of the project. What kind of hardware is required to run the application, how the software is going to access the hardware, which servers are going to be used, which networks are going to used by the software (Internet, Intranet, etc), and more.
Most companies skip phases 1-3 and jump straight to phase 4 (Design and Development) which is wrong, irresponsible and and expensive.
The Design and Development is a technical phase that is supposed to meet the requirements defined during the analysis phase. The software needs to be tested and verified so that it meets the design specifications (Verification process) and ensuring it fulfills the business needs (Validation process).
The software is now ready and functioning as it supposed to. Now is the time to install the application on the computers/servers and run further testing and inspections.
Accreditation and certification (confirmation of the software characteristics defined in phases 1-3) are initiated and completed.
The last phase of the software life cycle includes software updates and bug fixes. Customer requests are integrated during this phase and not the previous phases which minimize the customer interruptions during the software development (any project management dream).
Another important aspect to phase 6, is that software auditing and constant security tests are being performed to ensure that the software performs as designed and specified.
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