A concept of operations (CONOPS) is a statement that expresses what an operational commander intends to accomplish in an operational theatre and how it will be realised using available resources. Although CONOPS is crafted with the intent to clarify, it has often been challenging for stakeholders to document or interpret it. This is particularly true when the CONOPS involves multiple systems within a System of Systems (SoS).

CONOPS documents usually comprise text or static graphics. This poses difficulties for stakeholders to visualise interactions among systems over time, leading to different interpretations of the CONOPS documents among them.

The DSTA team introduced Graphical CONOPS that presents CONOPS through animated visualisations across time and space. Operational units and associated systems are represented in the visualisation, depicting their locations over time and their interactions with one another. Forces, physical dimensions, movements, terrain, weather, vegetation, physical structures and timings were all modelled to the right fidelity.

From the initial implementations, the team identified two key benefits of Graphical CONOPS over traditional CONOPS documents. Stakeholders, both operational and technical, can better visualise and discuss how operations unfold in time and space. This ensures a clear understanding of how operations are conducted, leading to better and more robust architecture designs. Additionally, with the inclusion of decision support rules when developing Graphical CONOPS, non-obvious incompatibilities and insights can be highlighted. This prevents unnecessary rework down the system and the SoS development cycle which can be time-consuming and costly.