Requirements, OCD & CONOPS

in Military Capability Development

A course presented over five days

presented by Mr. Robert Halligan FIE Aust CPEng


This course is a 5-day immersion in the development of military capability, with a focus on problem definition, Operational Concept Description (OCD - how the capability, and each element of its solution, will be used), and concept of operations (CONOPS - how the military outcome is to be achieved).

The course content is easily transferable in application to any substantial business system, public infrastructure system, or other large undertaking involving people and technology as a part of the solution.

The training is consistent with a systems approach to problem solving, as advocated by defence administrations worldwide. This approach is an interdisciplinary, collaborative approach to the engineering of system solutions (of any type). The approach aims to capture stakeholder needs and objectives and to transform these into a description of a holistic, life cycle balanced system solution which both satisfies the minimum requirements of the stakeholders, and optimizes overall solution effectiveness according to the values of the stakeholders.

Stakeholder measures of effectiveness could include, for example, measures of military capability, ease of use, operational availability... and programmatic measures such as investment cost, sustainment cost, National Industry Content..., as applicable. Within the concept of overall effectiveness, Operational Effectiveness, of primary concern to the Commander or the other leader, is isolated.

Who Should Attend This Course?

Military Capability Developers, Systems Engineers working on military programs, Requirements Managers for military systems, Program and Project Managers for development of military capability, and parts thereof.

Training Method and Materials

A mixture of stand-up instruction, with numerous examples, and substantial workshop activity, is used to deliver a very practically-oriented learning experience. A single military problem with evolving solution is the focus for the courses. You will be provided with:

  • comprehensive bound course notes containing presentation material
  • a workbook containing workshop exercises, with worked examples also distributed in most cases
  • numerous supplementary descriptions, checklists, forms and charts which you can put to use immediately.

Training Objective

At the conclusion of this course, delegates are expected to:

  • understand the types of information that collectively define a military (or any other) problem
  • understand how to capture and validate the information which defines the problem
  • understand the distinctly different information content and purpose of on OCD (Operational Concept Description) and a CONOPS (concept of operations)
  • understand the role of each of these documents in development of military capability, and their relationship to requirements documents, various forms of solution description, architectural frameworks such as DODAF, and to acquisition
  • have at least basic skills in capturing and validating requirements, etc.
  • have at least basic skills in preparing an OCD
  • have at least basic skills in preparing a CONOPS

Key Questions

  • What is the difference between an OCD and a CONOPS?
  • How should each be developed?
  • How does each relate to requirements?
  • What are Agile development methods and techniques?
  • What are the best public domain standards for OCD and CONOPS?

Requirements, OCD and CONOPS in Military Capability Development Course Outline

1. Concepts and Definitions

  • defining the problem, and developing a complete solution
  • life cycle basis of problem definition & solution
  • example requirements and MOEs relating to a capability
  • example physical levels of solution definition relating to a capability
  • definition: problem
  • problem description definitions
    • definition: requirement/threshold
    • definition: measure of effectiveness
    • definition: measure of performance
    • definition: target/goal/objective
    • definition: value (effectiveness) model
    • definition: operational effectiveness
    • definition: requirement importance
  • definition: requirements specification
  • concepts related to problem description
    • definition: need
    • definition: want
    • definition: desire
    • definition: intent
    • definition: expectation
    • definition: constraint
  • definition: OCD – Operational Concept Description/CONUSE – Concept of Use
  • definition: solution
  • definition: solution description
  • definition: architecture
  • definition: architectural design description
  • definition: architectural framework
  • definition: CONOPS – Concept of Operation(s)/OSD – Operational Solution Description
  • definition: detailed design
  • definition: stakeholder
  • definition: verification
  • definition: verification requirement
  • definition: verification requirements specification
  • definition: validation

2. General Concepts of Problem Solving

  • problem definition
  • emergence
  • divergence
  • convergence
  • systems thinking

3. Relationships Between Requirements Document, OCD, Architectural Design Description, CONOPS

  • a system solution
  • systems of systems

4. Types of Requirements

  • eight basic types
  • workshop 1 - categorizing requirements for a capability by type

5. The Quality of Requirements

  • requirements quality attributes

6. Requirements Analysis for the Capability: OCD and SyRS Content

  • purpose of requirements analysis and its relationship to OCD
  • relationship to CONOPS
  • requirements analysis (capture & validation) methodology
  • context analysis, and relationship to OCD
  • workshop 2 - context analysis for a capability
  • states & modes analysis, and relationship to OCD
  • workshop 3 - states and modes for a capability
  • parsing analysis, and relationship to OCD
  • workshop 4 - parsing analysis
  • functional analysis, and relationship to OCD
  • workshop 5 - functional analysis for a capability system
  • rest of scenario analysis, and relationship to OCD
  • ERA analysis, and relationship to OCD
  • out-of-range analysis, and relationship to OCD
  • value analysis, and relationship to OCD
  • workshop 6 - building a capability system value (system effectiveness) model
  • operational effectiveness
  • operational effectiveness versus overall effectiveness
  • extracting information for an OCD and requirements document from users (and others)

7. Operational Concept Description (OCD) as a Document

7.1 Content and Purpose of an OCD

  • users and uses of an OCD, in detail
  • types of OCD
  • principles regarding content
  • use cases, mission profiles, scenarios and the OCD
  • how does support relate to an OCD?
  • relationship of the OCD to the requirements document
  • OCD standards and guides
    • Operational Concept Documents, DID DI-MCCR-80023, SDD Documentation Set – Data Item Descriptions for DoD-STD-2167, U.S.A. Department of Defense, 1985
    • Concept Data Item Description, SMA-DID-P100, NASA Product Specification Document Standard, Release 4.3, 1989
    • ANSI/AIAA G-043-1992, Guide for the Preparation of Operational Concept Documents, 1992
    • Operational Concept Description (OCD), DID DI-IPSC-81430, Data Item Descriptions for MIL-STD-498, U.S.A. Department of Defense, 1994.
    • IEEE Standard 1362, IEEE Guide for Information Technology – System Definition – Concept of Operations Document, 1998
    • ACC Instruction 10-650, Development and Use of Concepts of Operations, U.S. Department of the Air Force, 1998
    • Guide for the Preparation of Operational Concept Documents, ANSI/INCOSE/AIAA, G-043:2012
  • who should prepare on OCD
  • timing of preparation of an OCD versus requirements document

7.2 Preparing an OCD

  • characteristics of a good OCD
  • workshop 7 - review of sample OCDs
  • pitfalls in OCD preparation
  • workshop 8 - review of an OCD for a military aircraft system
  • workshop 9 - preparing a basic OCD
  • use of graphics in OCDs
  • level of detail in the OCD
  • design content – when, and when not?
  • makeup of an OCD development team
  • the role of users
  • beyond the basic OCD
  • extending OCDs to other stakeholders
  • pitfalls in preparing OCDs


8.1 Content and Purpose of a CONOPS

8.2 Relationship of CONOPS to Overall Solution

8.3 Styles of Solution Development

  • the solution domain: key concepts, relationships, and work products
  • workshop 10 - principles of CONOPS development
  • waterfall, incremental, evolutionary and spiral capability development approaches
  • workshop 11 - capability solution development strategies

8.4 Concepts of Architecture - Physical and Logical, in CONOPS Development

  • physical architecture (structural view) – basic concepts
  • the role of technology and innovation
  • techniques for stimulating innovation in solution development
  • use of design driven requirements
  • perspiration engineering: configuration items
  • criteria for selecting configuration items
  • relationship of CI definition to future system integration
  • workshop 12 - physical conceptualization of capability solution
  • logical architecture - basic concepts of model-based architecting
  • logical architecture related to physical architecture
  • useful forms of logical representation – functional, state-based, mathematical, …
  • model-based design in practice

8.5 Functional Modeling in CONOPS Development

  • functional modeling in CONOPS development – how to do it
    • functional analysis/architecture process
    • item flow and control flow
    • coupling, cohesion, connectivity
    • unallocatable and allocatable functions
    • pitfalls in defining functions
    • workshop 13 - a simple functional solution
    • workshop 14 - physical and functional solution
    • FMECA in functional solution
    • performance thread analysis
    • SysML, and alternative languages incorporating behavior modeling
    • other functional modeling languages
    • software tools supporting functional and physical solution
    • pitfalls in functional solution development

8.6 Return to Physical Solution Development in CONOPS Development

  • facilities, procedures, people, and other types of solution element
  • some common pitfalls in developing CONOPS
  • adding the detail to the solution
  • solution creates requirements – the duality of requirements and solution
  • interface engineering
  • evolution of interfaces in solutions having levels of structure
  • interface requirements specifications versus interface design descriptions
  • some common pitfalls in interface engineering

8.7 Decision Making in CONOPS Development

  • solution development for feasibility
  • solution development for effectiveness: approach to solution optimization
    • the role of MOEs and goals
    • using a value (system effectiveness) model
    • taking account of risk relating to goals
    • taking account of risk relating to satisfaction of requirements
    • event-based uncertainty
    • risk-aversion
    • workshop 15 - using a value (system effectiveness) model in developing solution for a capability problem
    • cost/capability, return on investment and like concepts
    • iterative optimization of solution - an effective methodology
    • software tools supporting CONOPS decision making
    • common pitfalls in CONOPS development

8.8 CONOPS Document

  • CONOPS Template
  • Example CONOPS

9. Development of Requirements and Requirements Specifications for Elements of Solution

10. Summary and Key Points

  • action plan

11. References and Recommended Reading

About the Presenter - Robert Halligan FIE Aust CPEng

An executive professional engineer, manager and engineering practitioner, Mr Halligan is renowned internationally for his role in the practice and improvement of technology-based projects. Mr Halligan obtained his qualifications at the University of Melbourne and the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (now Victoria University). After early engineering, engineering management and project management roles with Telecom Australia, Department of Defence (Australia), Rockwell International and Andrew Corporation, Mr Halligan has for the last seventeen years contributed to major systems projects worldwide as a consultant and trainer...

View Full Robert Halligan Biography

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Requirements, OCD & CONOPS Course Schedule (Scroll to view full schedule)

How to Register

There are three simple ways to register to one of our courses.

  1. Online. You may register online by clicking the "register online" link next to the course of interest.
  2. Fax. Download a registration form by clicking the link above the schedule and fax the completed form to our offices on +61 3 9876 2664 (Australia), +1 888 772 5191 (North America) and +55 12 3212 5582 (Brazil).
  3. Email. Download a registration form by clicking the link next to the course of interest and email the form here.

*The course in Ankara over 29 - 31 December 2014 is a condensed version of our 5-Day course offering. The content of this shortened version is of the same calibre as that of the 5-day course, with the same workshops, and the same supporting materials. The courses differ in the amount of supporting and contextual content. Course hours will be 8:30am - 5:00pm each day, with tea and coffee on arrival from 8am - 8:30am.

Upon receiving a completed registration form, a course confirmation letter and invoice will be sent electronically to the email provided within 1-2 business days. Payment can made by credit card or by bank transfer.

If you need any assistance with the registration process or have any queries, please call one of our friendly team members on Australia +61 3 9876 7345, UK +44 20 3608 6754, North America +1 888 772 5174, Brazil +55 11 3958 8064 or email us.

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