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What Is Of More Value: Skill Set Or Business Domain Knowledge?

When considering people for project delivery roles, is their skill set of more value than their business domain or vice versa?

Over my years of working as a Business Analyst/Project Manager, be it recruiting or job hunting I have found a lot of companies and managers are focused more on business domain knowledge and experience rather than project skill set. However, I feel this is not correct, in project delivery roles the skill set of a person is more valuable, below are some of my thoughts behind this statement.

Project teams will always have access to business teams and users, and now with Agile, they are becoming embedded into project teams, this means domain knowledge is accessible.

There is the argument, especially for business analyst and project manager roles, that some understanding of the domain is needed to effectively communicate and manage stakeholder communications.

Part of the skill set of a business analyst is to be able to extract and understand businesses in a short time frame, to then identify issues and potential solutions. This skill would allow them to go into most businesses and get up to speed as soon as possible, bearing in mind they do not need to know the domain extensively.

If you consider the general skill set of the project delivery roles, you will understand they are industry agnostic and transferable, with skills such as communication, scope control, attention to detail, solution-focused etc.

In addition to the above, coming from outside the business main industry brings objectivity and best practices from other industries, such as how Henry Ford revolutionised the car manufacturing process and this became the benchmark for other manufacturing processes beyond cars.

The advantage of business domain knowledge is the team working on the solution is able to better evaluate it for its appropriateness and can validate details provided to them by the business stakeholders and users. This can be valuable for certain complex business functions.

There can also be the speed factor to consider when deciding on skill set versus domain knowledge, although this could be a discussion in itself.

I would be interested to know your answer to the question, do let me know.

The topic has been discussed on an Oclas VLOG with 2 project experienced guests. VLOG to be shared shortly, follow Oclas to keep up to date.

The article was written on behalf of OCLAS group, a cross-industry consultancy firm that brings the best skillet and experience to your change or transformation journey. To find out more visit my LinkedIn page or

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