ISO/IEC/IEEE 12207 Systems and software engineering – Software life cycle processes is an international standard for software lifecycle processes. First introduced in 1995, it aims to be a primary standard that defines all the processes required for developing and maintaining software systems, including the outcomes and/or activities of each process.
ISO/IEC/IEEE 12207:2017 is the newest version, published in November 2017. The IEEE Computer Society joined directly with the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) in the editing process for this version. A significant change is that it adopts a process model identical to the ISO/IEC/IEEE 15288:2015 process model (there is one name change, the 15288 "System Requirements Definition" process is renamed to the "System/Software Requirements Definition" process). This harmonization of the two standards led to the removal of separate software development and software reuse processes, bringing the total number of 12207 processes from 43 down to the 30 processes defined in 15288. It also caused changes to the quality management and quality assurance process activities and outcomes. Additionally, the definition of "audit" and related audit activities were updated. Annex I of ISO/IEC/IEEE 12207:2017 provides a process mapping between the 2017 version and the previous version, including the primary process alignments between the two versions; this is intended to enable traceability and ease transition for users of the previous version.
Prior versions include:
Prior to the IEEE Computer Society formally joining the editing process (becoming a major stakeholder) for the 2017 release, the IEEE maintained its own versions of ISO/IEC 12207, initially with modifications made jointly with the Electronic Industries Alliance (EIA). With the 2008 update came a "shared strategy of ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 7 and the IEEE to harmonize their respective collections of standards," resulting in identical standards thereon, but with slightly different names. Those IEEE versions included:
The standard establishes a set of processes for managing the lifecycle of software. The standard "does not prescribe a specific software life cycle model, development methodology, method, modelling approach, or technique.". Instead, the standard (as well as ISO/IEC/IEEE 15288) distinguishes between a "stage" and "process" as follows:
Stages (aka phases) are not the same as processes, and this standard only defines specific processes - it does not define any particular stages. Instead, the standard acknowledges that software life cycles vary, and may be divided into stages (also called phases) that represent major life cycle periods and give rise to primary decision gates. No particular set of stages is normative, but it does mention two examples:
The life cycle processes the standard defines are not aligned to any specific stage in a software life cycle. Indeed, the life cycle processes that involve planning, performance, and evaluation "should be considered for use at every stage". In practice, processes occur whenever they are needed within any stage.
ISO/IEC/IEEE 12207:2017 divides software life cycle processes into four main process groups: agreement, organizational project-enabling, technical management, and technical processes. Under each of those four process groups are a variety of sub-categories, including the primary activities of acquisition and supply (agreement); configuration (technical management); and operation, maintenance, and disposal (technical).
Here ISO/IEC/IEEE 12207:2017 includes the acquisition and supply processes, which are activities related to establishing an agreement between a supplier and acquirer. Acquisition covers all the activities involved in initiating a project. The acquisition phase can be divided into different activities and deliverables that are completed chronologically. During the supply phase a project management plan is developed. This plan contains information about the project such as different milestones that need to be reached.
Detailed here are life cycle model management, infrastructure management, portfolio management, human resource management, quality management, and knowledge management processes. These processes help a business or organization enable, control, and support the system life cycle and related projects. Life cycle model management helps ensure acquisition and supply efforts are supported, while infrastructure and portfolio management supports business and project-specific initiatives during the entire system life cycle. The rest ensure the necessary resources and quality controls are in place to support the business' project and system endeavors. If an organization does not have an appropriate set of organizational processes, a project executed by the organization may apply those processes directly to the project instead.
These processes deal with planning, assessment, and control of software and other projects during the life cycle, ensuring quality along the way.
The technical processes of ISO/IEC/IEEE 12207:2017 encompass 14 different processes, some of which came from the old software-specific processes that were phased out from the 2008 version.
These processes involve technical activities and personnel (information technology, troubleshooters, software specialists, etc.) during pre-, post- and during operation. The analysis and definition processes early on set the stage for how software and projects are implemented. Additional processes of integration, verification, transition, and validation help ensure quality and readiness. The operation and maintenance phases occur simultaneously, with the operation phase consisting of activities like assisting users in working with the implemented software product, and the maintenance phase consisting of maintenance tasks to keep the product up and running. The disposal process describes how the system/project will be retired and cleaned up, if necessary.
Clause 4 describes the document's intended use and conformance requirements. It is expected that particular projects "may not need to use all of the processes provided by this document." In practice, conforming to this standard normally involves selecting and declaring the set of suitable processes. This can be done through either "full conformance" or "tailored conformance".
"Full conformance" can be claimed in one of two ways. "Full conformance to tasks" can be claimed if all requirements of the declared processes' activities and tasks are met. "Full conformance to outcomes" can be claimed if all required outcomes of the declared processes are met. The latter permits more variation.
"Tailored conformance" may be declared when specific clauses are selected or modified through the tailoring process also defined in the document.
The cornerstone standards of ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 7, ISO/IEC/IEEE 12207:2017 and ISO/IEC/IEEE 15288:2015, have recently completed revision to reflect a unified model set of acquisition, organizational, technical management, and technical processes for systems and software.