Concept of Operations (CONOPS) - The Missing Link of Program-Level Cybersecurity & Data Protection Guidance
A Concept of Operations (CONOPS) document provides user-oriented guidance that describes crucial context from an integrated systems point of view (e.g., mission, operational objectives and overall expectations), without being overly technical or formal. A CONOPS is meant to:
Benefit stakeholders by establishing a baseline “operational concept” to establish a conceptual, clearly-understood view for everyone involved in the scope of operations described by the CONOPS.
Record design constraints, the rationale for those constraints and to indicate the range of acceptable solution strategies to accomplish the mission and any stated objectives.
Contain a conceptual view that illustrates the top-level functionality in the proposed process or system.
A CONOPS is not a set of policies, standards or procedures, but it does compliment and support those documents. A CONOPS straddles the territory between an organization's centrally-managed policies/standards and its decentralized, stakeholder-executed procedures, where a CONOPS serves as expert-level guidance that is meant to run a specific capability or function within an organization's cybersecurity department. An organization's Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) are expected to use a CONOPS as a tool to help communicate user needs and system characteristics to developers, integrators, sponsors, funding decision makers and other stakeholders.
Several ComplianceForge documents are essentially CONOPS documents, where those CONOPS-like documents are (1) more conceptual than procedures and (2) are focused on providing program-level guidance to define and mature a specific capability that is called for by policies and standards (e.g., operate a "risk management program"). Examples of ComplianceForge products that provide program-level guidance to define a function-specific concept of operations include:
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