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Describe 5 Key Attributes Of A Project And Difference To BAU

Paul Naybour Paul Naybour

Published: 12th March 2015

  1. Projects have a start and finish point; A project could be used to produce a standard operating procedure for manufacturing a new product. Once the SOP is approved and is being used to produce said product: The project ends and business as usual proceeds. For example the design and construction of a new school would be a good example of a project. It has a fixed start and end point, whereas operating a school in the longer term is a good example of business as usual. 
  2. Projects have capital budget whereas business as usual often has a revenue budget. So for our examples of a school the capital budget would be used to fund the finial construction and fit out of the school and the revenue budget would be used to operate the school once it was opened. It is critical for the PM to understand what is funded from capital and what is funded from the revenue budget. So are books for the library part of the capital of revenue. 
  3. Projects are unique whereas business as usual is on-going. The first prototypes of a mass produced product would be considered a project; as they would form part of the development and launch phase a project. Once in production, the manufacture of said product then becomes business as usual. So for example a new chocolate bar would be considered as a project during the product development phase, once it was into production then it would become business as usual.
  4. A project seeks to make changes/benefit; whereas business as usual looks to steady incremental changes over a longer period. So for example operation of an existing transport system in a world city is about consistent operations of business as usual whereas building a new transport system, or modifying the existing system would be a project. Both have different challenges BAU faces the challenge of reliable operation whereas projects have the challenge of managing the change.
  5. Projects involve a temporary team whereas BAU often involves a long standing team. In general a project team will come together for the delivery of the project, and may not have worked together in the past, whereas in business as usual individuals may have worked together for many years. This means project managers face the challenge of quickly developing and building a high performance team, working with new individuals. 
  1. Paul says:

    Craig I have edited your answer in italics to reflect what I would expect to see in the APM PMQ (APMP) exam. I hope this helps.

  2. Student says:

    Michelle thanks for the feedback I am beginning to think that even my model answer is a bit too brief nowerdays.

  3. michelle says:

    The other post that Paul mentioned gives a great example of what is required to get full marks for an answer. Take the point about projects being unique as opposed to business as usual. There are a potential 10 marks to be gained if you can describe a project attribute and demonstrate both a basic understanding and also further knowledge. For example, the answer:

    Projects are unique whereas business as usual is on-going.

    will only get you 2 marks for describing the attribute, whereas the following:

    Projects are unique and in general have not been executed in this configuration before whereas business as usual is on-going and often repeated day in day out.

    Would get you an additional 3 marks (so 5/10 in total). To get full marks further understanding is required and we need to add an explanation of why this is important and include examples. Such as in the following answer:

    Projects are unique and in general have not been executed in this configuration before whereas business as usual is on-going and often repeated day in day out. For example the operation of a metro system day in day out is a good example of a BAU operation whereas the construction of a new metro system is an example of a project. This is important because BAU operations must focus on doing the same thing in a very consistent way whereas project must concentrate on the management of change and associated risks.

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