The hallmark attribute of the PERFORM group was that it took fundamental approaches to real-world applications. Its research impacted how critical infrastructures such as power grids are designed. For example, PERFORMers were active participants in the work of the Trustworthy Cyber Infrastructure for the Power Grid (TCIPG) Center (which was led by PERFORM director William H. Sanders), and collaborated on trusted software research with the Boeing Company.

One major way in which the group impacted the real world was through development of several engineering modeling and design tools that can be applied to realistic engineering problems. In particular, PERFORM designed, developed, and distributed the advanced modeling, analysis, and simulation environment UltraSAN and its successor, Möbius™. Thousands of licenses for UltraSAN and Möbius have been issued to universities for research and graduate instruction, and the tools have also been licensed for commercial use to several companies. Möbius is available free for academic use, and information on how to obtain it is available at this site. It is also available for commercial use. Another major software tool developed in PERFORM was the NetAPT Network Access Policy Tool, later commercialized as NP-View, which performs a comprehensive security policy analysis to identify the deviation of an implementation from global access policy.

The PERFORM group was founded by its director, Prof. William H. Sanders, in 1994. In 2020 Prof. Sanders retired from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and became Dean of the College of Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University.