When asked to explain the schedule and the timelines for a given project, I have often relied on the RUP process chart to explain the entire schedule as it provides a disciplined approach to assigning tasks and responsibilities . The obvious goal is to ensure the production of high-quality tools that meets the needs of its end-users, within a predictable schedule and budget. 

The product life-cycle is broken into four cycles, each cycle working on a new generation of the product

• Inception phase  - Here you just establish the business case for the system and delimit the project scope. 
• Elaboration phase - Usually the elaboration phase is used to analyze the problem domain, establish a sound architectural foundation, develop the project plan, and eliminate the highest risk elements of the project.
• Construction phase - This basically is a engineering process where emphasis is placed on managing resources and controlling operations to optimize costs, schedules, and quality
• Transition phase - The purpose of the transition phase is to transition the software product to the user community. This involves clearing bugs updating new releases, finishing up some features

Shown below is a chart that helps (courtesy Wikipedia)



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