Software Acquisition

AAF  > Software Acquisition  >  Planning Phase

Planning Phase

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Each page in this pathway presents a wealth of curated knowledge from acquisition policies, guides, templates, training, reports, websites, case studies, and other resources. It also provides a framework for functional experts and practitioners across DoD to contribute to the collective knowledge base. This site aggregates official DoD policies, guides, references, and more.

DoD and Service policy is indicated by a BLUE vertical line.

Directly quoted material is preceeded with a link to the Reference Source.



Reference Source: Software Acquisition Pathway Interim Policy and Procedures, 3 Jan 2020


The planning phase focuses on understanding the users’/systems’ needs and planning the approach to deliver capabilities to meet those needs. This requires active engagement with the users to understand their concepts of operations, environment, external systems with which the required capability must interface, interoperability requirements, threats, existing capabilities, and other specific needs. The software development team shall begin to plan the software design and architecture, leveraging enterprise services to the maximum extent possible. Government and/or vendor systems engineering and software engineering teams may develop capabilities to explore possible solutions, confirm architecture decisions, and solicit user feedback. The chosen software development methodology shall incorporate security as a persistent requirement and include a risk-based lifecycle management approach to address software vulnerabilities through secure development, secure capabilities, and secure lifecycle.


The program office will develop strategies for acquisition, funding, contracting, Intellectual Property (IP), test and evaluation, systems engineering, software security, and sustainment in a single or minimum set of tailored documents. The team will estimate costs, identify funding, and develop metrics and value assessment plans. These planning efforts should be tightly aligned but can occur independently to support individual business decisions.


Business decision artifacts that decision authority must approve at the end of the Planning Phase so that the program can move into execution include, but are not limited to:

  • Capability Needs Statement
  • User Agreement
  • Acquisition Strategy
  • Cost Estimates