Home > News & Events > Is Business As Usual Getting In The Way Of Your Project? . . . Project Mistake #3

Is Business As Usual Getting In The Way Of Your Project? . . . Project Mistake #3

Imagine if you could shut business operations during the life of a project just so you didn’t have competing priorities. Nice idea but that’s not going to happen. Successfully delivering any project requires an organisation to

Tuesday 31 March 2015

Imagine if you could shut business operations during the life of a project just so you didn’t have competing priorities.  Nice idea but that’s not going to happen.  Successfully delivering any project requires an organisation to manage not just the project itself but a range of other organisational and operational commitments.

This post continues my series on “What NOT To Do TO Ensure Project Success”.  The topic is something which all project managers come up against and for some it will be their downfall.  I’m talking about . . .


Mistake #3: Ignoring Business-As-Usual Obligations

Not all projects can or warrant having team members dedicated full time to project work. The challenge in having part-time team members is their commitment and engagement with the project versus their commitment and engagement with their normal “day job” or business as usual (BAU).

Every part-time team member has two bosses, the Project Manager and their Line Manager. Each has different expectations and demands of that team member.

The project manager must fully understand the commitments team members have outside the project.  Doing so is not difficult and just requires a project manager to ask team members and their respective line manager what priorities they have and to negotiate a resolution to priority conflicts.

Yes that sounds easy, so why do so many project managers ignore this or leave it to the team member to sort out.  Perhaps they are just too busy, perhaps they fear the conflict or maybe they want an excuse for not being able to deliver.

Whatever the real reason, if the project manager wants to deliver successfully they need to address the issue and to do so will require them to:

  • Be committed to and understand the importance (or not) of what they need
  • Be a skilled communicator
  • Motivate team members to appreciate and act on project priorities
  • Negotiate with stakeholders for a change in priorities to ensure project commitments can be met
  • Allow for BAU commitments in the project schedule.


Another perspective on BAU is the fact that the organisation as a whole must continue to function and this will mean that certain project activities may not be able to be undertaken at a particular point in time because people are not available or major events are occurring etc.  For example if a project is implementing a new inventory management system they may not be able to conduct user training when they wanted because half the people impacted are in stores or warehouses conducting stock-takes (BAU for them).

The solution here lies in the project manager allowing for these events when they first undertake planning.  They can’t be expected to know everything that is happening within the organisation so they must learn to ask the right questions of the right people.  The following actions will go a long way to pre-empting BAU problems:

  • Project managers must talk to stakeholders about their plans and seek input on likely conflicts
  • Discuss future activities in project team meetings and ask for any known conflicts
  • Consult the organisation’s “Events Calendar” if they have one and if not, then create one and
  • When things come out of left field then it simply means a reschedule of activities.


Ignore business as usual at your peril.  Alternatively, be proactive, use your communication skills and power up you radar to look for future conflicts.

If you feel the need to develop or tweak your communication, negotiation, management or leadership skills, contact us and we can discuss potential coaching or programs to support you.

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