Blog Post Image

5 Key Attributes Of A Project And Difference To BAU

Paul Naybour Paul Naybour

Published: 12th May 2018

This topic was modified from the original post in May 2018 by a member of the Parallel team to better provide an appropriate answer for people preparing for the APM PMQ exam (previously known as the APMP).

The original poster also expanded his answers and they can be viewed here.

The first point to note in this type of question is that the examination markers are looking for specific elements to every answer. So where you are asked to describe any number of things such as 5 Key Attributes of a Project you should first of all list those attributes before providing more detail about them. The list alone is worth up to 20% of the total mark for the question. So a good answer might be:

5 Key Attributes of a Project are:

  1. Projects have a start and finish point.
  2. Projects have a set budget, which is capitalised.
  3. The first prototypes of a mass produced product would be considered a project
  4. A project seeks to make instant changes/benefits
  5. A project has a number of steps that make up the project life cycle

Once you have your list you can then go on to describe each element in more detail in a separate paragraph. Here the examiner wants you to demonstrate basic understanding and also further understanding of the topic. Each of these represents half the total marks available so you need to demonstrate both basic and further understanding to pass the exam.

You can demonstrate basic knowledge simply by stating facts about a project but to demonstrate further understanding you need to:

  • state why certain attributes are important
  • provide examples

So you can see how the original poster’s answers below lacked a demonstration of further knowledge and would be unlikely to achieve a high mark in the exam:

  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.
  2. Projects have a set budget, that is capitalised. Whereas business as usual would be funded by op’s budget.
  3. 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.
  4. A project seeks to make instant changes/benefits; whereas business as usual looks to steady incremental changes over a longer period.
  5. A project as a number of steps that make up the project life cycle; whereas business as usual, products go through ‘product life cycle’: build, use, end of life – disposal. 

Let’s take point 4 and expand upon it for a better answer.

A project seeks to make instant changes/benefits; whereas business as usual looks to steady incremental changes over a longer period.

Out of a possible 8 marks (4 for basic understanding and 4 for demonstrating further knowledge) the above answer would only be likely to achieve 2/8.

If we expand the answer to:

A project seeks to make instant changes/benefits and in general has not been executed in this configuration before; whereas business as usual looks to steady incremental changes over a longer period and is often repeated on a day-t-day basis.

But this still doesn’t demonstrate further understanding because we haven’t stated why it is important nor included any examples. So, let’s further improve the answer:

A project seeks to make instant changes/benefits and in general has not been executed in this configuration before; whereas business as usual (BAU) looks to steady incremental changes over a longer period and is often repeated on a day-t-day basis. For example the a standard operating procedure for manufacturing a product day in day out is a good example of a BAU operation whereas the development of a new standard operating procedure for manufacturing a product is an example of a project. This is important becauseBAU operations must focus on doing the same thing in a very consistent way whereas projects must concentrate on the management of change and associated risks.

You can read more about how to provide the fullest answers to APM PMQ Exam Questions here.

We offer a wide range of APM PMQ Exam training options including distance learning, virtual webinar programmes and face-to-face training. For more information please visit our APM PMQ courses page

Best of luck with your APM PMQ Exam.

How to build...A Successful Project Team

Read our in-depth Guide To Project Management Qualifications for information about the range of professional qualifications that provide a progressive structure for project managers to boost your career prospects.


  1. Paul says:

    These answers are too short to get good marks, have a look at my post on the secret tips to pass the apmp to get the idea.

    • Asim khan says:

      For Marks STudy this
      1.A project has a unique purpose. Every project should have a well-defined
      objective. For example, Anne Roberts, the director of the Project Management Office in the chapter’s opening case, might sponsor an IT collaboration project to develop a list and initial analysis of potential IT projects that might
      improve operations for the company. The unique purpose of this project
      would be to create a collaborative report with ideas from people throughout
      the company. The results would provide the basis for further discussions and
      selecting projects to implement. As you can see from this example, projects
      result in a unique product, service, or result.

      2. A project is temporary. A project has a definite beginning and end. In the IT
      collaboration project, Anne might form a team of people to work immediately
      on the project, and then expect a report and an executive presentation of the
      results in one month.

      3.A project is developed using progressive elaboration. Projects are often
      defined broadly when they begin, and as time passes, the specific details of
      the project become clearer. Therefore, projects should be developed in increments. A project team should develop initial plans and then update them with
      more detail based on new information. For example, suppose that a few people submitted ideas for the IT collaboration project, but they did not clearly
      address how the ideas would support the business strategy of improving operations. The project team might decide to prepare a questionnaire for people to fill in as they submit their ideas to improve the quality of the inputs.

      4.A project requires resources, often from various areas. Resources include
      people, hardware, software, and other assets. Many projects cross departmental or other boundaries to achieve their unique purposes.

      5. A project should have a primary customer or sponsor. Most projects have
      many interested parties or stakeholders, but for a project to succeed someone
      must take the primary role of sponsorship. The project sponsor usually provides the direction and funding for the project. Executive support is crucial

      6.A project involves uncertainty. Because every project is unique, it is sometimes difficult to define its objectives clearly, estimate how long it will take
      to complete, or determine how much it will cost. External factors also cause
      uncertainty, such as a supplier going out of business or a project team member needing unplanned time off. This uncertainty is one of the main reasons
      project management is so challenging, especially on projects involving
      new technologies.

  2. Paul says:

    Craig, these answers are a bit too short to get good marks. Have a look at the examples here to get the idea https://www.parallelprojecttraining.com/how-to-answer-apmp-exam-questions-the-secret-tips/

  3. Anna says:

    I agree with Paul that these answers are too short so have included some pointers on how to show the examiner that you have both a basic undersatnding of a topic and also a fuller understanding. Explaining why things are important and providing relevant examples will help you gain the highest marks possible.

  4. Poska says:

    These answers are definitely too short to get good marks but please give some more examples of answers of an adequate length👏

  5. Lowani Nyoni says:

    Keep up the good work found information very informative

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.