Project vs. Business as Usual

This article will discuss the five main differences between Projects and Business as Usual.

Difference between a Project and Business as Usual

The five difference between Projects and Business as Usual

A project introduces change into an organisation whilst the Business as Usual (BAU) manages the process.  When a project delivers (or hands over) its final product, be that a new building, IT system, organisational process the business will change dramatically – a step change in the way that things are done.

On the other hand Business as Usual optimizes the way things are done – the process – and any changes are introduced relatively slowly.

Project and Business as Usual differences

Projects deliver products into the business as described above, after which the project is usually disbanded.  The Business as Usual on the other hand uses the products of the project to realize the benefits. It is unusual for projects to deliver any benefits into the organisation during their implementation (unless there is some form of phased roll-out).

The task of benefits realization belongs to the Business as Usual and it is fundamental to the success of the project that this task is given priority and that benefits are realized.

Project managers manage time whereas Business as Usual managers optimize time.  In a project the project manager has to deliver the products within an appropriate timescale and will take action to make sure the products are delivered on time – this may result in other elements of the project such as cost suffering.

The Business as Usual manager must optimize the timescale within which his/her repetitive tasks are undertaken to drive out efficiencies within the business.

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Projects are inherently risky and project managers need to be risk aware and manage the risk, reducing it to an acceptable level.  No risk means “no or little change” and on occasion the project manager will take risks to get things done on time and on cost.

The Business as Usual manager on the other hand generally looks to reduce risk to its lowest practical level and is often risk averse, and limits change by concentrating on standard production techniques.

Business as Usual often uses a process of continual improvement to increase the quality of the service or the product in question.

The project manager is responsible for producing products that conform to a specified standard and whilst s/he will look to improve the quality of the process, it is the quality of the output that is the prime concern.

The project manager should prevent the team from continually trying to improve the product if the customer has not specified this, whilst the Business as Usual manager will see continual improvement as part of his/her daily routine.