The concept definition phase of the system life cycle marks the beginning of a serious, dedicated effort to define the functional and physical characteristics of a new system (or major upgrade of an existing system) that is proposed to meet an operational need defined in the preceding conceptual phases. It marks a commitment to characterize the system in sufficient detail to enable its operational performance, time of development, and life cycle cost to be predicted in quantitative terms. As illustrated in Chapter 4 (Figure 4.6), the level of effort in the concept definition phase is sharply greater than in previous phases, as system designers and engineering specialists are added to the systems engineers and analysts who largely staffed the preceding phases. In most needs-driven system developments, this phase is conducted by several competing developers, based on performance requirements developed in the preceding phases by or for the customer. The output of this phase is the selection, from a number of alternative system concepts, of a specific configuration that will constitute the baseline for development and engineering. From this phase on, the system development consists of implementing the selected system concept (with modifications as necessary) in hardware and software, and engineering it for production and operational use.

With the advent and formal definition of systems architecting, this phase has been known ...

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