With the launch of the 7th edition of the PMBOK, the guide for the PMP certification, major changes were introduced. These changes included the replacement of the 10 knowledge areas with the 8 project performance domains. What characterises these 8 project performance domains?
What are the 8 Project Performance Domains?
“A project performance domain is a group of interrelated activities that are critical to the effective realisation of a project outcome.” This is how the project performance domain is defined in section 2 of the Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge, 7th edition (PMBOK®).
Project performance domains are essential activities that ensure the success of projects, they replace what were previously known within the 6th edition as the 10 Project Management Knowledge Areas.
Designed to work together throughout the project, these domains are less inherent to rigid processes and are created to guide behaviours and practices to achieve desired outcomes.
Whether you are studying for PMP certification or are in the middle of a project, these domains will help you focus your work on elements that lead to real success.
What’s new: 10 knowledge areas vs. 8 project performance domains
While previous versions of the PMBOK focused on knowledge areas, the seventh edition replaced the traditional knowledge areas with performance domains.
In order to understand the difference between the 10 knowledge areas of the 6th edition of the PMBOK and the eight domains of the 7th, it is first necessary to broadly define the general changes of the new edition of the PMBOK.
Officially from 1 August 2021 (for members a little earlier), the Project Management Institute (PMI®) published the new PMBOK Guide 7th edition. Over the course of six editions, the work had become increasingly extensive and also more difficult to read. The aim was therefore to start afresh and streamline the book. The structure was also changed. The PMBOK Guide already consisted of several parts, which have now been reorganised.
In other words, the performance domains are a wide range of issues that you need to focus on as a project leader and project team from start to finish. In this sense, not much changes from the knowledge area approach in terms of categorisation. However, there is one fundamental difference: the change in the structure and orientation of the PMBOK Guide itself.
The knowledge areas were essentially groupings of areas that the project manager needed to know in order to manage a project successfully. In contrast, the performance domains are areas to focus on rather than detailed knowledge. The new approach emphasises the knowledge given to the project team and the project manager.
Whereas the PMBOK Guide – 6th Edition is based on technical processes, inputs, tools and techniques and results for the project manager, the PMBOK Guide – 7th Edition is based on skills and resources for the team to deliver value-based results. The most significant difference between the 7th and 6th editions of the PMBOK Guide is the shift in focus from very technical processes and tools to more general principles that anyone involved in project management work can use to succeed.
The 8 Project Performance domains
The 8 Project Performance domains are:
- Development approach and Life cycle
- Project work
- Uncertainty and ambiguity
Together, the performance domains form a unified whole. They operate as an integrated system with each domain dependent on the other to ensure successful project creation while meeting the expected results.
The performance domains compete in the project regardless of how the value is delivered, whether frequently, periodically or at the end of a project. The ways in which the performance domains relate are different in each project but always present.
This depends on the context of the organisation, the project, the team and the project environment. The project domains are not to be seen in a hierarchical order because they all have the same importance.
Stakeholder process activities fall into this performance area. Stakeholders will determine the success or otherwise of your project. This is one of the “rules” of project management. Therefore, this domain is about building effective working relationships between them, so that you can properly integrate their needs, priorities, preferences and points of view.
Effective interaction with stakeholders contributes to the success of the project.
It is necessary to implement strategies and actions to promote stakeholder involvement in decision-making and project implementation.
The team domain deals with the activities performed by the resources working on the realisation of business results.
This performance domain focuses on all actions and processes related to the project team, including conflict management, team growth and monitoring of team interactions.
It is therefore crucial to encourage all team members to share responsibility for the results.Effective execution of this domain performance will lead to the following results:
- Shared responsibility
- A high-performance team
Development Approach & Life Cycle
This domain determines how a project can actually be developed. It answers the questions: all projects are hybrid to some degree, but which elements will you draw on to create your project approach? And how will you structure the project to optimise value creation and responsibility?
For this reason, PMI has decided not to favour one approach and development life cycle over the others. Thanks to tailoring, all projects must be adapted according to their nature. As one of the first steps in the planning phase, the expected results must be carefully evaluated.
In efficient project management, if one follows the essence of the Development Approach and Life Cycle Performance Domain, one can determine the right development approach, life cycle and find the appropriate pace to conduct activities during the project to create value for the organisation and stakeholders.
The results of the project determine the most appropriate development approach, such as a predictive, adaptive or hybrid approach.
The deliverables and the development approach influence the number and cadence of project deliverables.
Planning organises, processes and coordinates the work during the project. The amount, timing and frequency vary depending on the product, development approach, environment and stakeholders.
Planning can take place before and during the project. The effective execution of this performance domain leads to the following desired results:
- progress of the project in an organised and co-ordinated manner
- holistic approach to the realisation of project results
- evolution of information with the initial project objectives
- the time spent on planning is appropriate to the situation
- the information is sufficient to meet stakeholder expectations
Good planning is what makes the project successful, in scope, activities, schedule, resources, budget and more.
This domain deals with the management of physical resources and the promotion of learning.
Project work is associated with the definition of processes and execution of work to enable the team to create value and achieve the expected results. This includes communication, engagement, resource management, procurement and other activities to run project operations smoothly.
What are the results that can be achieved in this phase?
- Efficiency and effectiveness of project performance
- Processes appropriate to the project and the project environment
- Appropriate communication with stakeholders
- Efficient management of physical resources and procurement
- Improvement of team skills through continuous learning and process improvement
In this domain, new work and changes are monitored and learning takes place during the project. This is because periodically the project team meets to determine what it can do better in future interactions. Different ways of working can evolve to produce better results through:
- Knowledge management
- Explicit and tacit knowledge.
It deals with the processes to complete the products and meet the project objectives, respecting the scope and quality requirements
The release performance domain includes all processes and actions related to project delivery performance. The results produced at the end of the project continue to generate business value for a long time after completion.
It includes activities to evaluate project performance and take action to ensure performance. Effective execution leads to the following outcomes:
- Reliable understanding of project status
- Reliable data to facilitate decision-making
- Timely and appropriate actions to keep project performance in line with expectations
- Achieve objectives and generate business value by making timely decisions based on reliable forecasts and assessments
Uncertainty and ambiguity
This domain deals with activities and functions associated with risk and uncertainty.
Risks are inevitable. Whatever you do, some future and uncertain events will occur in a project. You have to be prepared for them. The knowledge area project risk management helps to prepare for these unforeseen and unplanned events.
However, a risk can be both a threat and an opportunity that teams must be able to manage and turn to their advantage. Proactive management is indispensable in these situations.
Projects with adaptive and hybrid development approaches are generally and typically characterised by greater uncertainties to be managed. Actions and activities are typically complex and have a high degree of uncertainty.
The latter may arise from many factors, such as the uniqueness of the project, the organisation may not have undertaken a similar project before, the approach or technology used may be new or there may be other significant unknowns. Some aspects of uncertainty are taken into account in this last phase.
In this domain, the information will need to be accurate to enable the team to act on any changes to actually achieve the performance initially desired.
In other words, the performance domains are a wide range of issues that need to be focused on as project leaders and project teams from the beginning of the project to its realisation. In this sense, not much changes from the knowledge domains approach in terms of categorisation.
However, there is a fundamental difference. Knowledge areas were essentially groupings of areas that the project manager needed to know in order to successfully manage a project. In contrast, performance domains are areas to focus on rather than sections to know in detail.
The relationship between these domains is therefore different for each project but exists in each of them.
The specific activities will therefore depend on the context of the organisation, project, results, team, stakeholders and other factors.