The Concept Development Phase may begin after the approval of the Concept Proposal and Project Charter, the completion of the Initiation project status review, and the approval to proceed to the Concept Development Phase. The focus of the phase is two-fold: 1) evaluate feasibility of alternatives and 2) clearly define and approve project scope, including the system, all deliverables, and all required activities. The Concept Development Phase activities are inputs into the development of the ITPR, which is a required output of this phase.
1.0: Objectives / Goals
2.0: Deliverables and Approvals
4.0: Tasks and Activities
Successful completion of the Concept Development Phase should comprise:
The purpose of the Concept Development Phase is to define the project scope and prepare formal funding requests.
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SDLC deliverables help State agencies successfully plan, execute, and control IT projects by providing a framework to ensure that all aspects of the project are properly and consistently defined, planned, and communicated. The SDLC templates provide a clear structure of required content along with boilerplate language agencies may utilize and customize. State agencies may use formats other than the templates, as long as the deliverables include all required content.
The development and distribution of SDLC deliverables:
During the development of the documentation, the Planning Team should:
The following is a listing of deliverables required of all projects for this phase of work.
Project Scope Statement (PSS) – documents the scope of a project and its business case with the high-level requirements, benefits, business assumptions, alternatives analysis, and program costs and schedules.
Agency Chief Financial Officer (CFO)
Information Technology Project Request – serves as the formal budget request for the project and has information provided by the PSS.
The ITPR is a mandatory deliverable for this project phase for all MITDPs.
Project Organization Chart (Update) – a graphical depiction of the project hierarchical positions and relationships.
Responsibility Assignment Matrix (RAM) - defines in detail the roles, authority, responsibility, skills, and capacity requirements for all project tasks needed to complete the project. The agency and contractor responsibilities are addressed in the RAM.
Project Staffing Estimates – details a preliminary estimate of resources required to complete the project and serves as an input for the project staffing management plan in the next phase.
Work Breakdown – provides a preliminary Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) and a WBS Dictionary to define all project activities from planning to implementation
All deliverables other than those identified as Updates should be initially developed in this phase. Deliverables identified as Updates should be revisited and enhanced as necessary as prescribed in this phase.
Deliverables produced during this phase must be reviewed in detail and should follow the approval path as defined in the above table. A signature page or section should accompany each deliverable requiring approval.
DoIT will periodically request copies of these documents as part of its oversight responsibilities.
The following personnel participate in the work activities of this phase:
Responsible – Describes role that executes the activities to achieve the task.
Accountable – Describes roles that own the quality of the deliverable and sign off on work that Responsible provides.
Consulted – Describes roles that provide subject matter expertise.
Informed – Describes roles that receive information about the task.
The Project Manager ensures the following prerequisites for this phase are complete:
Specific reports and SDLC deliverables are required at certain dates. The table below lists the requirements for this phase. Refer to the Documents Timeline page in the Related Links.
Date of Submission
Mid-September, for the upcoming budget year (ex: mid-September 2008 for fiscal year 2010) - aligns with required budget submission date as established by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) Office of Budget Analysis (OBA)
A corresponding DBM-DA-21 is required by OBA
SF&P §3A-308(b and c)
The Planning Team analyzes all feasible technical, business process, and commercial alternatives for meeting the business need. The results of this analysis should show a range of feasible alternatives based on life cycle cost, benefits, technical capability, operational feasibility, and scheduled availability. Typically, this analysis should narrow the system technical approaches to only a few potential, desirable solutions that should proceed into the subsequent life cycle phases. The results of this analysis should be documented in the PSS.
The Project Manager performs a high-level analysis of early project risks to complete the PSS; this analysis is not to be confused with development of the project Risk Management Plan in the Planning Phase. The results of this analysis should be documented in the PSS.
The Project Manager with the Project Sponsor, supported by the Agency CIO, CFO, and Executive Sponsor, prepare the PSS, which replaces the System Boundary Document.
The PSS establishes a common understanding of project scope among project stakeholders and describes the project’s major objectives. The end users’ technology representatives define the technical requirements. Planning Teams should begin with the business objectives, goals, and high-level requirements identified in the Project Charter and expand upon them to ensure that all requirement types are addressed. The team will further define these high-level requirements in the Requirements Analysis Phase.
Key elements of a PSS are included below. Please note that additional descriptions are included when necessary to provide clarification regarding content to be specified in the document. Additional guidance is provided in the SDLC template.
Section 5.23 of the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK), fourth edition describes PSS development in detail.
The Planning Team decides the best contract type for the project – fixed-price (FP) or time and materials (T&M) – and reviews recommendations with the Agency CIO, Project Sponsor, and Executive Sponsor. DoIT policy encourages agencies to utilize FP and fixed scope contracts whenever practical to mitigate the risk of project cost overruns. An optional T&M component to a FP contract addresses potential change orders.
Reduces State risk for cost overruns
Requires detailed, well-founded, and unambiguous requirements to guard against reductions in functionality
Requires detailed and unambiguous deliverable acceptance criteria to prevent cost overruns and schedule delays
Contractors incur risk of cost overruns
Time and materials
Valuable for use when scope is not specific
Risk of incurring large cost overruns to the State if not aggressively managed
Benefits and Limitations of Contract Types
Agencies are strongly encouraged to consider utilizing established master contracts as part of their acquisition strategy. More information regarding State master contracts may be found on the DoIT website.
The Planning Team must document the project acquisition strategy in the ITPR described later in this document. Refer to the DoIT website to learn more about relevant acquisition procedures.
The Project Manager develops a preliminary Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) and a WBS Dictionary to define all project activities from planning to implementation. Although a detailed WBS is completed during the Planning Phase, preliminary planning of project activities is necessary during the Concept Development Phase in order to estimate associated resources and costs to perform the work. Preliminary activity definition will begin in the Concept Development Phase and further refined during the Planning Phase to ensure that all activities are defined in detail. The WBS will identify all of the specific work activities that need to be performed to complete the project. A WBS is a deliverables-oriented, hierarchical decomposition of the work needed to accomplish the project objectives and create the required deliverables. The document identifies, organizes, and defines the total scope of the project. A basic WBS is below:
A WBS Dictionary provides more detailed descriptions of the work identified in the WBS. For more guidance regarding the development of a WBS Dictionary, visit the WBS document or PMBOK, section 5.3.
The Planning Team estimates the staffing and resource support necessary for the project by assessing each WBS activity and its labor, equipment, and material requirements. The Project Manager documents these estimates in a project staffing estimate, a precursor to the Planning Phase Staffing Management Plan.
Based on the planned WBS activities and estimated resources to perform the work, the Planning Team estimates the total cost of the project in a logical and structured way to obtain sufficient project funding. Cost estimating methods include analogous estimating, resource cost rate estimating, bottom-up estimating, function point analysis, and parametric estimating. Cost estimates may be created using tools such as Microsoft Project, COnstructive COst Model II (COCOMO II), REVIC, and Costar. Refer to the Related Links for the Cost Estimating page for a more detailed discussion of cost estimating techniques and tools.
Some specialized areas of cost estimating typically overlooked during concept development include costs for hardware upgrades, security assessments, certification & accreditation (C&A) reviews, disaster recovery activities, and IV&V assessments. All Planning Teams should ensure that their cost basis is as complete as possible to avoid future funding gaps. Given the information known about the project at this point, all estimates are still considered preliminary.
When organizing costing information, Planning Teams should review ITPR and ITMP reporting formats to ensure easy financial reporting of cost data. Cost information must be organized and identified by SDLC Phase. Cost estimating includes identification and consideration of various costing alternatives, so prior estimating experience is essential to obtain accurate cost estimates. If the Planning Team lacks experience in estimating project costs, consider outside assistance.
The Project Manager further defines and documents project roles and reporting relationships and creates a RAM. Critical to this effort is definition of the roles of business users and education of all stakeholder groups regarding their upcoming roles and accountabilities.
During the Concept Development Phase, human resources planning is conducted. Project organization planning, started in the Initiation Phase, continues here with additional detail. Section 9 of PMBOK, Project Human Resource Management, defines the processes to organize and manage teams and the three key outputs: Project Organization Charts, RAM, and Staffing Management Plan.
The Project Sponsor and Agency CIO further define and establish the governance structure identified in the Project Charter by establishing a framework for action, information distribution, and decision making. This framework should be applied consistently during the project life cycle. Developing a governance structure entails these steps:
Major Decision Area
Decision and Subject
Changes in project costs, + or -
Cost change of more than 5% of baseline
Scope changes + or -
Only minor scope changes, as defined by less than 3% of total scope
Cumulative scope changes + or -
Limited to 5% of project budget
Sample Decision Rights Chart
The Agency CFO and Agency CIO with the Project Manager prepare the ITPR and are jointly responsible for its quality and completeness. Every MITDP requires an ITPR, which must be approved by the legislature before the MITDP may begin. The ITPR formally requests approval to begin or continue a project and forms the basis of funding requests for DoIT and the Maryland legislature. The PSS has most of the information required by the ITPR. The ITPR requires about 40 hours of work to research and document all areas. The Project Sponsor, Executive Sponsor, Agency CIO, and Agency CFO must thoroughly review and formally authorize the ITPR before submission.
The ITPR is the mechanism for requesting approval to begin a new project, continue an existing project, or fund a new or existing project. ITPRs must be submitted the fiscal year before a project begins (including planning), regardless of whether a request for funding is necessary. The agency must submit an ITPR for each fiscal year that a project is under way and for one fiscal year following project completion.
The DoIT website provides a complete list of required content for the ITPR.
The Planning Team selects a preliminary development path for the project while completing the ITPR. Generally, projects are expected to follow the State’s published SDLC, but some projects may be managed more efficiently with other development methodologies. Refer to the Alternate Methodologies page for a more complete discussion on alternative development approaches and when they may apply.
The Project Manager and the Planning Team prepare and present a project status review for the Agency CIO, Project Sponsor, Executive Sponsor, and other project stakeholders after completing all Concept Development Phase tasks. This review addresses:
The Project Manager must obtain deliverable approval signatures before proceeding to the Planning Phase.
Update the project documentation repository upon completion of the phase-closure activities.
The completion of the project organization chart, completion of the RAM and project staffing estimate, approval of the PSS and ITPR, completion of the Concept Development project status review, and approval to proceed to the next phase, signify the end of the Concept Development Phase.
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