Your project rosetta stone? The Concept of Operations


The Closed Loop Initial Consultative Program (CLIC™) is an intensive, organisation-wide initiative designed to provide the airline with empirical information about the value of a proposed project or program and the tenets on which a successful outcome will rest. It is a significant body of work and its outcomes include:

  • Program or project feasibility.
  • A fully costed Business Case including investment appraisals.
  • Consideration, mitigation and management of all relevant regulatory issues.
  • Exploration of potential benefits across the organisation.
  • All information necessary to formulate project or program requirements into an effective, requirements-driven RFP.
  • Recommendations regarding the breadth of program scope and how best to approach the industry for supply.
  • Assessments regarding technology trends and best practice and benchmarking against similar programs in the airline industry.
  • Assessment of the program in the context of the airline's strategic initiatives.
  • Relevant risk analyses.
  • Project organisation, structure, governance and planing.
  • Implementation and business-as-usual scenarios and strategies.
  • Change management.
  • Component Lifecycle Management requirements.
  • Benefit realisation requirements.

The CLIC™ is designed to function as the anchor point for the project from all perspectives. Upstream, it formalises the concepts and strategies that lead the airline to conclude that a proposed program bears progressing. In the other direction, it acts as the primary reference for the development of the RFP, the supplier's solution fit, implementation planning and management and the benefits realisation plan at program closure.

The Concept of Operations

The key deliverable from the CLIC™ is the Program or Project Concept of Operations or the ConOPS. This document is the key project artefact and encapsulates all of the foregoing into a document that can be used as the cornerstone of the program throughout its lifecycle.

It is addressed to airline management, project and program executives, the project manager, component developers, user groups and suppliers. The information contained in the ConOPS provides guidance and information about the project to all stakeholders and interested parties and is used to provide look-back comparison during the execution of the Benefits Realisation Plan. The CLIC™ and ConOPS provides a stable platform on which to progress any project of program.

This stability is critical to any successful program outcome.

The Closed Loop CLIC™ Structure - The Detail

Information Gathering

In order to maximise the value of time spent on site, the process requires as much information about the program as possible. This is typically completed ahead of site visits using a variety of tools. If Closed Loop previously completed the the Initial Consultative Workshop (ICW™), a significant amount of this material will have been developed and be readily available.

Even prior to the site visit, Closed Loop can start to assess the organisation based on existing systems in place or soon to be replaced, fleet configuration, culture, local regulatory requirements and a variety of other factors. Closed Loop will request that individual onsite meetings and a variety of activities be arranged and facilitated with all known and potential stakeholder departments or personnel associated with affected activities.

Site Visit

The site visit is similar to a number of industry audit structures and processes, beginning with the entry meeting, a half a day event with all available stakeholders, then half a day with the program owners. Stakeholder interviews take up a significant amount of the on-site phase of the ConOPS development. Topics covered in these meeting include:

  • How does the department operate?
  • How do you overlap with the proposed program?
  • What does your department do efficiently?
  • What aspects do you feel might be rethought?
  • What do you want? Why?

As Closed Loop collects and distills this information, questions sometimes arise about overlaps between departments and inter-departmental inefficiency, such as the same data being maintained by multiple departments or hardware overlaps doing essentially similar things. These may lead to further meetings to clarify, sometimes involving more than one department.

The objective of these meetings is to determine what each department wants from the program and what it is willing to commit to the program if it gets it. Formalising stakeholder involvement provides a foundation for the program and the available perimeters for the scope.

The ConOPS Document

The ConOPS document is the deliverable for the engagement. Depending on scope, it may require several weeks to produce after the completion of the site visit. The airline is provided with drafts along the way, so the final document reflects all of the operational knowledge provided by the airline overlaid with the the subject matter expertise and industry experience of Closed Loop. A comprehensive financial spreadsheet is also provided. As the analysis uses the Discounted Cash Flow (DCF) method, this provides an excellent basis for tracking viability and benefits realisation from conception to the closure of the program.

Also included are the process flow files, illustrating the current and desired states of the organisation. These are in BPMN format, so can be used by any process analysis tools in use by the airline.

Closed Loop delivers the ConOPS to site, allowing up to a week for final scrutiny with the program team. Any last minute changes are incorporated and the final document is handed over formally, closing the CLIC™ Program and ConOPS phase.

The ConOPS is the roadmap for the program. Every requirement in the RFP, every change request by the supplier and every feature of the User Acceptance Testing (UAT) can be traced back and evaluated against the ConOPS. This provides extraordinary stability to the program, even when unanticipated changes to the system are warranted.


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