Design & Technology August 13, 2013
What Business As Usual (BAU) means to me
I run the “Business As Usual” (BAU) teams for global clients at Dept, and get asked “what is a BAU/business as usual team” often enough that I thought it would be useful to write down my thoughts on what it is, what it’s like running one, how it’s done (well) and what the benefits are.
Anyone who has worked within a BAU team will know how difficult it is to describe what you actually do day-to-day, as it very quickly becomes something that just happens without really knowing how it’s all ticking along – but I’m going to give it a go!
What is Business As Usual and a BAU team?
So what does BAU mean for us at Dept? Well Business As Usual are the tasks and requests that get made as part of normal business operations for websites and digital things.
Requests like creating new content and adding new website pages, making small changes to website functionality or updates to existing content and sections. It also includes maintenance activities like checking log files and cleaning up disk space as well as jumping on urgent bugs and issues when they crop up.
They are usually smaller pieces of work that need a fast turnaround and to get done with as little fuss as possible.
These are different to projects, which are bigger pieces of work, and usually disrupt normal operations in some way, as they introduce something new or implement change in the way something existing is presented or works. They are more strategic.
A BAU team run the day-to-day digital operations making sure everything just works. This means the team needs to contain, or have access to, people with lots of different skills so that most requests can be dealt with quickly. Development, QA, Content Entry, Content Writers, Creative, UX are some of the common skills needed.
Dept runs BAU teams on behalf of clients, with my team specialising in the smooth operation of large, global collections of websites.
This means working with our client’s central marketing and IT teams as well as liaising directly with business units and country website managers to make sure all the local market websites are working and the flow of improvement requests, content tasks and issues are prioritised and managed.
WHY DO YOU NEED A SEPARATE BAU TEAM?
To define the benefits of BAU is challenging, but I am sure anyone who has had a BAU team for their websites would agree that they could never go back to not having one!
Having a dedicated BAU team gives you the freedom to continue with large new projects whilst still retaining focus on operating the current website(s) – making small incremental changes to optimise what’s there as well as satisfying ad-hoc requests from business teams as and when is necessary. It means that you don’t have to wait for a big bang release to see positive changes. The BAU team can do that daily, constantly adding value and trying new things that you haven’t had to create a huge business case to support.
Essentially, a BAU team allows your websites to maintain momentum after they are launched rather than waiting for the next big project – by which time things may have started to go stale.
WHAT’S IT LIKE RUNNING A BAU TEAM?
So what is running a digital BAU team like for a very large organisation in over 30 countries? Well, it’s daunting, liberating, interesting and very occasionally stressful.
And intense. From day one I found myself copied into scores of emails, invited to meetings every day with people from all over the world with names I couldn’t even pronounce (I can now), learning about products and services and all kinds of things I had no idea existed but for which I have slowly started to become a bit of a promoter of outside of work and am actually interested in!
But most of all running and working in a BAU team is rewarding. Successes are a lot more immediate than traditional web projects. Every day we get new issues and tasks coming in which we can implement, fix, test and deploy before we go home. Its great to solve our clients problems so quickly and gives us a real sense of achievement.