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Differentiate Between A Project And Business As Usual

Paul Naybour Paul Naybour

Published: 27th February 2013

A project introduces a new product or a change in product whereas business as usual seeks to reproduce the same item. For example, a project would produce a new IT system and roll it out in the business whereas business as usual would be operating that IT system day in day out.


A project produces the product in a finite, set time period whereas in business as usual the products are repeatedly produced for an indefinite amount of time. E.g. a roll out of an IT system would have to be completed by a particular target date whereas operations of that system would be ongoing.


For a project the plans and specifications that are put in place are bespoke and unique. Each project is different in implementation details so needs a bespoke approach to implementation.


During business as usual operations the working practises are procedural in order to achieve continuity, the aim being to continuously improve the work. Projects are about change, so may be in part procedural (such as change control procedure) but fundamentally involve the creation of new operating practices.


In a project the deliverables are produced once, whereas deliverables are repeatedly produced during business as usual. E.g. a project to build a new school will implement a unique design whereas a factory to produce washing machines will produce the same products day in day out.


Keen for some feedback on whether this is enough information and the right kind of format.




  1. Paul says:

    I missed your post for some reason. You have the right idea but I would recommend adding some examples to illustrate all the points you are making. So the first two paragraphs are good but the second need to say something about each project needing a different level of planning based on the complexity or the situation. I hope this helps

  2. legese tadele says:

    It is very good concept of the diffence between project and business usual more detail additional evidence..thank you very much

  3. Anita Akinmade says:

    Thanks for sharing. A real l life example would have sufficed in paragraph 3.

  4. chinthaka says:

    Projects change the business; BAU identifies the change
    Projects manage risks; BAU mitigates risks
    Projects are time-bound; BAU is ongoing
    Projects can be capitalized; BAU often cannot be
    Projects involve cross-functional teams; BAU involves functional teams
    Projects are non-repetitive or unique; BAU are often repetitive

    • MS says:

      Thank you Chinthaka for the very succinct summary. That’s very useful for real life project situations but as an answer to an APM exam question (which this is) it would not cover enough detail to gain full marks.

    • Cecilia says:

      Thanks so much for this summary. So helpful.

  5. Clint Maulden says:

    I just finished reading your blog post and it was engaging and illustrative, making me feel like I really understand the difference now between project and BAU work.

    • MS says:

      Glad you enjoyed the blog post Clint – it’s important to understand the differences between projects and BAU so that tasks, people and resources can be managed in the most appropriate way.


    Thanks a lot, you have made me to realise and understand the differences between project and business as usual

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