Concept of operations

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A concept of operations (abbreviated CONOPS, CONOPs,[1] or ConOps[2]) is a document describing the characteristics of a proposed system from the viewpoint of an individual who will use that system. Examples include business requirements specification or stakeholder requirements specification (StRS). CONOPS is used to communicate the quantitative and qualitative system characteristics to all stakeholders.[2] CONOPS are widely used in the military, governmental services and other fields.

A CONOPS generally evolves from a concept and is a description of how a set of capabilities may be employed to achieve desired objectives or end state.[1]

The first standard was 1362-1998 - IEEE Guide for Information Technology - System Definition - Concept of Operations (ConOps) Document that was superseded by the document 29148-2011 - ISO/IEC/IEEE International Standard - Systems and software engineering -- Life cycle processes --Requirements engineering. Then came the 2012 AIAA revision proposal Guide: Guide to the Preparation of Operational Concept Documents (ANSI/AIAA G-043A-2012) (Revision of G-043-1992), and today we have ISO/IEC/IEEE 15288:2015 Systems and software engineering -- System life cycle processes.

In the field of joint military operations, a CONOPS in DoD terminology is a verbal or graphic statement that clearly and concisely expresses what the joint force commander intends to accomplish and how it will be done using available resources.[3][4] CONOPS may also be used or summarized in system acquisition DODAF descriptions such as the OV-1 High Level Operational Concept Graphic.[5]


Concept of Operations documents can be developed in many different ways but usually share the same properties. In general, a CONOPS will include the following:[6]

A CONOPS should relate a narrative of the process to be followed in implementing a system. It should define the roles of the stakeholders involved throughout the process. Ideally it offers clear methodology to realize the goals and objectives for the system, while not intending to be an implementation or transition plan itself.[6]

A CONOPS Standard is available to guide the development of a CONOPS document.[7][8] The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Standard is structured around information systems, but the standard may be applied to other complex systems as well.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "CONOPS". Department of Health & Human Services. Archived from the original on April 8, 2008. Retrieved June 23, 2008.
  2. ^ a b "Concept of Operations (ConOps)" (PDF). Department of Health & Human Services. Archived from the original (PDF) on June 11, 2009. Retrieved June 22, 2008.
  3. ^ "Joint Publication 5-0; Joint Operation Planning" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on September 3, 2012. Retrieved August 14, 2012.
  4. ^ "Joint Publication 1-02; Department of Defense Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms" (PDF). Retrieved August 14, 2012.
  5. ^ "DODAF in Action" (PPT).
  6. ^ a b "Concept of Operations". Carnegie Mellon University. 2008. Retrieved June 22, 2008.
  7. ^ "IEEE Std 1362-1998 IEEE Guide for Information Technology—System Definition—Concept of Operations (ConOps) Document". IEEE Standards Association. Retrieved March 14, 2010.
  8. ^ "IEEE Std 29148-2011 - Systems and software engineering -- Life cycle processes --Requirements engineering". doi:10.1109/IEEESTD.2011.5966382. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)