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Research Transitions

Transition Plans 

A Transition Plan is a document that represents an agreement between clearly identified researchers and potential recipients, organizations, or other users of the product resulting from the transition of an R&D output. Transition Plans include general information about the project and a proposed process for how it can most efficiently be integrated into operations or other applications. Early (and often) coordination during a project allows for researchers, developers, and operators to identify both the potentials for success and possible limitations of both the new technologies/ideas and the existing operational framework, and strategize a connection between the two.

Per NOAA Policy, a Transition Plan should:

  • Be developed once, and updated as necessary;
  • Start simple, and gain complexity and detail as a project matures;
  • Have complexity and level of effort proportional to the scale, risk, maturity and
    scope of the project;
  • Be widely applicable to a range of planning or management needs;
  • Be able to serve as a supporting document to articulate how a specific activity or
    funding (or lack of), will impact the project;
  • Eventually cover all the expected activities, costs, milestones, etc. for the total life
    cycle (i.e., from the current RL of the Transition Project through deployment including operations and maintenance costs).

A Transition Plan should NOT:

  • Be tailored to a specific program, request for proposals (RFP), or data call;
  • Be a scientific or technical proposal;
  • Be an implementation or deployment plan.



A complete transition plan should include the following sections:

  • Purpose and Objectives: A brief description of the project and its importance.
  • Capabilities and Functions: A brief overview of the current and expected end-state functionality of the project’s output.
  • Transition Activities: A list of the major tasks that must be completed to transition the output to its desired end-state.
  • Milestones and Deliverables: A list of major milestones and deliverables for the completion of the proposed transition.
  • Roles and Responsibilities: A list of primary contributors to the proposed transition, including the roles and responsibilities of each.
  • Estimated Budget Overview: A basic breakdown of expected costs for the transition, including potential staff time, implementation costs, and operations/maintenance (O&M) costs.
  • Risks and Mitigation: A description of potential roadblocks that may affect the proposed transition, and a basic mitigation strategy for each.



Additional Resources

For additional information on transition plans, visit the NOAA Research Council website on the Policy on Research and Development Transitions.

NOAA Research Council has also made available several example transition plans.

A sample Transition Plan Template is available for download here. This template is designed for projects in the Joint Technology Transfer Initiative (JTTI) program, but the format is similar for all WPO programs. However, since each program may require unique information in their transition plans, please check with your specific program’s management team for a template specific to your program.