Acquisition Plan (AP) Template

Writing an Acquisition Plan (AP) Made Easy!

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Table of Content:
What is an Acquisition Plan (AP)?
How Does The Acquisition Plan Contribute to Acquisition Process Improvement?
How to Write an Acquisition Plan?
Acquisition Plan Online Resources

To write your acquisition plan, use the acquisition plan template and sample provided in your free Request for Proposal Letters Toolkit.

What is an Acquisition Plan (AP)?

Acquisition Plan Definition

An Acquisition plan (AP) is the comprehensive document that sets forth the acquisition strategy, defines the efforts required to implement it, and ensures coordination of all human and organizational resources involved in fulfilling the organization's needs in a timely manner and at a reasonable cost.

The acquisition plan addresses all the technical, business, management, and other significant considerations that will control the program throughout the acquisition life cycle.

The acquisition plan should be brief but comprehensive. It provides information about the acquisition background, and presents products and services required to properly carry out the acquisition process. The acquisition plan covers all phases of the acquisition process within the investment life cycle, i.e., from acquisition program initiation through operation, and support. The acquisition plan may reference other acquisition documents where applicable.

Who Should—or Shouldn't—Write the Acquisition Plan?

Because acquisition planning is an inherently sensitive function, the acquisition plan is typically prepared by the acquiring organization's qualified personnel.

Contractor support personnel shall not normally be employed in direct support of acquisition planning or in the development of the acquisition plan. If contractor personnel need to be involved in preparing the acquisition plan, appropriate non-disclosure agreements (NDA) must be obtained.

Worth to mention that particular attention must be taken regarding a potential organizational conflict of interest with prospective offerors.

When is a Written Acquisition Plan Required?

"Which acquisitions require the preparation of a written acquisition plan?"

Being part of a process flow, the acquisition plan represents the output document of the acquisition planning process, and the input document of each Milestone Decision Point (MDP) within the acquisition process to ensure acquisition activities stay aligned with the acquisition strategy set forth. Therefore, the acquisition plan is written upon the acquisition strategy being defined and before the acquisition process initiation.

Writing an acquisition plan is the second and last step of acquisition planning—definition of the acquisition strategy being the first step.

They are 2 kinds of acquisition plans, as appropriate for a given acquisition initiative:

  1. Informal acquisition plan—An informal acquisition plan is usually prepared for all acquisitions not requiring a formal acquisition plan. The documentation and level of detail in the informal acquisition plan is commensurate with the value, complexity, and significance of the acquisition.
  2. Formal acquisition plan—Required usually for anything over a predetermined dollar amount threshold per year or for all years for certain items, and for any acquisition that packages or consolidates discrete acquisition projects.

Writing an acquisition plan is not that an easy exercise. We'll give you some tips for writing an effective acquisition plan in a moment; but before, you need to remember that the acquisition plan is a key element of an acquisition process improvement initiative.

How Does The Acquisition Plan Contribute to Acquisition Process Improvement?

Although aiming at acquiring specific products and services, the acquisition plan should be written with a larger perspective in mind—i.e., to reuse it in subsequent acquisitions by identifying and streamlining acquisition activities that could be repeated.

Writing an acquisition plan is a procedure referenced and defined by several software engineering (SE) standards (e.g., ISO, IEC, IEEE), software acquisition improvement models (e.g., CMMI-ACQ), and IT governance frameworks (e.g., CObIT) that are implemented by organizations as part of their acquisition process improvement initiative:

  • ISO/IEC 12207:2008—Software Life Cycle Processes
    The acquisition plan is referred by the standard ISO/IEC 12207:2008 (Software Life Cycle Processes) as one of the expected outcome documents of the acquisition process (clause 6.1.1), document that the acquirer should prepare and that is expected to contain information about:
    • Requirements for the system;
    • Planned employment of the system;
    • Type of contract to be employed;
    • Responsibilities of the organizations involved;
    • Support concept to be used; and
    • Risks considered as well as methods to manage the risks.
  • IEEE 1062—Recommended Practice for Software Acquisition
    An acquisition plan template is provided in standard IEEE 1062 (Recommended Practice for Software Acquisition) and contains the following checklists to govern the different steps of the software acquisition process:
    • Organizational Strategy Checklist
    • Software Definition Checklist
    • Supplier Evaluation Checklist
    • Supplier and Acquirer Obligations Checklist
    • Quality and Maintenance Plan Checklist
    • User Survey Checklist
    • Supplier Performance Standard Checklist
    • Contract Payment Checklist
    • Supplier Progress Monitoring Checklist
    • Software Evaluation Checklist
    • Software Testing Checklist
    • Software Acceptance Checklist
  • CMMI-ACQ
    (Capability Maturity Model Integration for Acquisition)

    Acquisition Planning—i.e., defining an acquisition strategy and writing an acquisition plan—is a basic requirement of Project Management (PM)—a key process area (KPA) defined in CMMI-ACQ under the term Project Planning (PP). As such, that's the acquisition plan that really makes the acquisition process repeatable.

    The repeatability character of the acquisition plan is mandatory for the Project Management key process area to reach capability level 2, which in turn will help the organization reach maturity level 2.

    Worth to mention though that the acquisition plan helps also the acquisition process reach higher capability levels and the organization higher maturity levels as the acquisition process becomes standardized and institutionalized (level 3), quantitatively measured (level 4), and continuously improved (level 5).
  • CObIT v4.1
    (Control Objectives for Information and related Technology)

    CObIT is a process-oriented best practices, control, and governance framework that executive management can implement to efficiently govern information technologies (IT) within their organization.

    The process Acquire and Implement (AI)—as defined in CObIT v4.1—suggests to produce an acquisition plan and other plans for the implementation, and maintenance of software and technological infrastructure that meet established business functional and technical requirements in accordance with the technology direction set forth by the organization.

    The acquisition plan also helps management define—and enforce—acquisition policies and procedures as part of an institutionalized acquisition process.

How to Write an Acquisition Plan?

"Can you give me an example of an acquisition plan format?"

Use short sentences, action verbs, work words, and the active voice to write a punchy, action-oriented acquisition plan.

Before using the acquisition plan template, it's highly recommended that you read the recommendations below.

To write a good acquisition plan, keep in mind that it's important to be clear and concise, and to use short sentences and the active voice. This will have more impact on the persons who read the acquisition plan because they're involved in—and responsible for—its execution.

Here are 7 steps to create a well-written acquisition plan:

  1. Acquisition plan template—Use the detailed acquisition plan template and sample provided in the FREE RFP Letters Toolkit to create your own acquisition plan by tailoring the different acquisition plan sections presented hereafter to the nature, scope, complexity, and circumstances of your acquisition program life cycle.
  2. Acquisition background and objectives—The acquisition plan should provide brief but comprehensive information about the acquisition background, drivers behind the change decision (e.g., timeframe, constraints, threats), and who authorizes and directs the acquisition efforts:
    1. Statement of Need (Mission Need Statement [MNS]);
    2. Historical Summary; and
    3. Applicable Conditions.
  3. Technical issues—The acquisition plan should describe the technical and performance aspects of the acquisition program and operational activities:
    1. Capability or Performance Description (Acquisition Program Baseline [APB]);
    2. Delivery or Performance-period Requirements;
    3. Test and Evaluation; and
    4. Logistics Considerations.
  4. Business and management issues—The acquisition plan should describe the contractual aspects of the acquisition program and management activities:
    1. Cost, Budgeting, and Funding;
    2. Trade-offs and Risks;
    3. Contracting Considerations;
    4. Contractor vs. Government Performance and Inherently Government Functions;
    5. Contract Administration, Management Information Requirements and Technical Data;
    6. Transition Planning; and
    7. Government Furnished Information and Property.
  5. Other considerations—The acquisition plan should discuss topics such as safety, environmental impact, privacy impact, and security as judged appropriate to the actual acquisition process:
    1. Priorities, Allocations and Allotments;
    2. Make or Buy, or Buy/Lease;
    3. Environmental Consideration and Energy Conservation; and
    4. Privacy Risks and Mitigation Measures;
    5. Security Considerations; and
    6. Other Issues.
  6. Participants in Acquisition Plan Developments—The acquisition plan should list the individuals who participate in preparing the acquisition plan and their detailed contact information (e.g., CFO, CIO, Contract Officer).
  7. Milestones for the Acquisition Cycle—The acquisition plan should finally include a time-based milestone chart showing the major events of the acquisition process in chronological order.

    The acquisition plan should explicitly identify the Milestone Decision Points (MDP) of the acquisition process, e.g., acquisition plan approval, Procurement Request (PR) package preparation (e.g., Request for Proposals [RFP], Invitation for Bids [IFB]), issuance of synopsis and solicitation, contract Award).

Acquisition Plan—Online Resources

  • FAR Subpart—7.1 Acquisition Plans
    Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR)

    FAR Subpart 7.1 (Acquisition Plans) prescribes policies and procedures for:
    • Developing acquisition plans;
    • Determining whether to use commercial or Government resources for acquisition of supplies or services;
    • Deciding whether it is more economical to lease equipment rather than purchase it; and
    • Determining whether functions are inherently governmental.
  • ISO/IEC 12207:2008—Software Life-cycle Processes
    Clause 6.1.1—Acquisition Process
    (ISO/IEC 12207:2008 is also known as IEEE 12207:2008)

    The standard ISO/IEC 12207:2008 (Software Life-cycle Processes) establishes a common framework for software life cycle processes, with well-defined terminology, that can be referenced by the software industry. It contains processes, activities, and tasks that are to be applied during the acquisition of a software product or service—in particular, writing an acquisition plan to document and ensure a better execution of the acquisition process.
  • IEEE 1062—Recommended Practice for Software Acquisition
    The standard IEEE 1062 (Recommended Practice for Software Acquisition) describes a set of useful quality practices that can be selected and applied during one or more steps in a software acquisition process. It also provides in annex B acquisition plan guidelines and a an acquisition plan template based on these recommended practices.
  • Capability Maturity Model Integration for Acquisition (CMMI-ACQ)
    Software Engineering Institute (SEI), Carnegie Mellon University

    The model CMMI-ACQ requires an acquisition plan to be developed as a requirement for the key process area (KPA) Project Planning. CMMI-ACQ doesn't provide explicitly an acquisition plan template as is but, by guiding you through each step of the acquisition project management process, it allows you to aggregate generated typical work products (i.e., output documents as called by CMMI-ACQ) into an acquisition plan.
  • Control Objectives for Information and related Technology (CObIT)

    The IT governance framework CObIT suggests—as part of the process Acquire and Implement (AI)—to produce an acquisition plan and other plans for the implementation, and maintenance of software and technological infrastructure that meet established business functional and technical requirements in accordance with the technology direction set forth by the organization.

Acquisition Plan Template, Samples, Tips and Advice

Would you like an acquisition plan template?
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What is an Acquisition Plan (AP)? Acquisition Plan Definition: "An Acquisition plan (AP) is the comprehensive document that sets forth the acquisition strategy, defines the efforts required to implement it, and ensures coordination of all human and organizational resources involved in fulfilling the organization's needs in a timely manner and at a reasonable cost.". Who Should—or Shouldn't—Write the Acquisition Plan? When is a Written Acquisition Plan Required? Informal vs. Formal Acquisition Plan Template. How Does The Acquisition Plan Contribute to Acquisition Process Improvement? Writing an acquisition plan is a procedure referenced and defined by several software engineering (SE) standards (e.g., ISO/IEC 12207, IEEE 1062), software acquisition improvement models (e.g., CMMI for Acquisition [CMMI-ACQ]), and IT governance frameworks (e.g., CObIT) that organizations implement as part of their acquisition process improvement initiative. How to Write an Acquisition Plan? Acquisition Plan—Online Resources.

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