Software Acquisition

AAF  >  Software Acquisition  >  Define Capability Needs  >  Software Initial Capabilities Document

Software Initial Capabilities Document (SW-ICD)

How To Use This Site

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: JCIDS Manual, 30 October 2021


The purpose of a SW-ICD is to facilitate efficient and timely software development efforts utilizing the expedited process. The SW-ICD is designed to enable modern software development practices and rapidly deliver mission impactful software.


SW-ICDs are appropriate for software development only. For acquisition purposes, SW-ICDs may be used to document embedded software requirements for a capability solution developed under other validated JCIDS documents. In this case, the software requirements were validated as part of the overall capability solution, and do not require further staffing.


SW-ICDs are not appropriate for hardware development efforts, capturing CRs that span a broad scope of hardware, software, and/or DOTmLPF-P efforts, or for DBS capabilities.


Reference Source: USD(A&S) Guidance

The Software ICD was developed as a hybrid of the legacy JCIDS IT Box IS-ICD and the SWP’s Capability Needs Statement (CNS). It serves as the core initial requirements document for SW development that Joint Staff determines has Joint equities. It has streamlined content from the legacy IS-ICD with no IT Box elements or cost estimate along with fewer DOD Architecture Framework views.

Joint Staff’s J8 gatekeeper will identify if a SWP program has Joint equities. It is strongly recommended that SWP programs, vice their Service/Agency requirements headquarters organization, communicate early with J8 to make a Joint equity determination. The general guidelines for Joint equities are as follows:

    • Combatant Command generated requirements
    • Programs related to JADC2 per JROCM 074-20
    • Programs related to Nuclear Command Control and Communications (NC3)
    • Any explicit joint or joint-service requirements

The SW-ICD shall be constrained to 10 pages or less. Given the dynamic nature of modern software development, the capability needs/requirements will be iteratively defined, shaped, and prioritized via product roadmaps and program backlogs throughout the development lifecycle.

SW-ICD Contents

1. Operational Context How the software capabilities contribute to missions and activities.
2. Threat Summary Ensure software capability requirements are informed by current threat environment.
3. Capability Requirements and Gaps/Overlaps Outline what the required capabilities must do and the operational effect. Cite current capabilities.
4. Interoperability Describe governance process for interfaces and data to include enterprise architecture, standards, and software factories.
5. Final Recommendations Outline the plan for sponsor, operational commands, users to capture, prioritize, refine lower-level needs.

Required DOD Architecture Framework (DoDAF) Views

See DoDAF section of DOD CIO website for additional details.

Net Ready Key Performance Parameter (NR-KPP)

Source: USD(A&S) Guidance

Within the SW-ICD, SWP programs should only outline the performance attributes of the software capabilities to support the NR-KPP. This is within the Exchange Information section of the NR-KPP areas. The SW-ICD can reference other systems or documents for the broader network or weapon systems that will have the full NR-KPP certification. See DODI 8330.01 – Interoperability of Information Technology (IT), Including National Security Systems (NSS) for additional details on NR-KPP.

 Joint Staff, JITC, and the T&E community understand the need to adapt for the new software development approaches. This includes a continual, iterative software testing throughout development. JITC may waive SWP programs using the application path from DODI 8330.01 requirements.

Coordination, Approval, and Validation

Following Service requirements board coordination and approvals, the SW-ICD will be routed to Joint Staff for validation. SW-ICDs will follow the Joint Staff’s “expedited process” of 40-days or less per the JCIDS Manual.

SW-ICD Process Image