Concept of Operations

What Does Concept of Operations Mean?

Concept of operations (CONOP) is a document describing what a system does in easily understood language allowing those without a technical background to know what it is and how it functions.


The CONOP can be used to get stakeholders in the system to agree on such understanding and knowledge and provide clarity of purpose to a project.

Techopedia Explains Concept of Operations

A CONOP helps an organization document in plain language what is required and what should be built for an information system. A CONOP should address any of the following items:

  1. The system’s function in the organization
  2. The stakeholders themselves, who could be users of the system, people developing the system or anyone who depends on the system
  3. The system’s purpose

For the CONOP to be effective, information on the following is needed:

  1. How the system will be used
  2. Recorded goals
  3. System requirements
  4. A project plan leading to creation of the system

Stakeholder buy-in and support is required for the project to move forward as planned. Stakeholders also should be involved throughout the project to ensure that the system is being built according to plan and will meet the recorded and expected goals.

Various scenarios should be developed to lay out how the system would perform if certain events were to occur. This is often done through the use of flow charts and other visual aids.


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Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.