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Blog post - BAU: What’s that all about?

BAU: What’s that all about? 

BAU or ‘Business As Usual’ is a term that is thrown about a lot in social housing, especially for digital projects. But as a sector there are two important questions we need to ask.

14th June 2022

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3 minutes 30 seconds

BAU or ‘Business As Usual’ is a term that is thrown about a lot in social housing, especially for digital projects. But as a sector we need to ask two important questions: 


  • Do organisations understand the role and responsibilities of BAU for digital projects? 
  • Should project work stop once in BAU?


Do organisations understand the role and responsibilities of BAU for digital projects? 


BAU plays an important role in digital projects and should be as important as the original build or implementation of a digital offering. However, when I hear the term BAU in the sector it suddenly fills me with fear. The reason is that it often means reduced resources, reduced organisation buy-in and reduced future investment. In fact, in some cases BAU may as well be called ‘let’s not breathe on it’! 


And I think this is where organisations really need to define what “Business As Usual” really looks like. And in my mind, this comes down to two key considerations: 


BAU is not “set and forget”, or simply about maintaining the status quo:  BAU’s focus should be around ensuring the continued quality and reliability of operations. 


In this context, the pace of technological change, the pace of customers’ lives and the importance of their portals in enabling them to do what they need to do mean that BAU must include a programme of ongoing, proactive maintenance.  A portal, website or app which is left untouched quickly looks outdated and can become insecure or unstable. And any hint of usability or security issues will quickly have an impact on engagement and adoption. 


So, what should be the role of a BAU team? BAU handles the day-to-day operation of a digital offering focusing on maintenance and ongoing improvement and optimisation. 


 Let's take a website, for example. BAU tasks can include: 

  • Creating new content and adding new website pages 
  • Making small changes to website functionality
  • Updating existing content
  • Scheduled maintenance and updates
  • Responding to urgent bugs and issues. 



So, should project work stop with BAU? 


Clearly not. Given the above, every digital project should be approached – and budgeted – with BAU in mind, but in our experience, many organisations don’t make the link between initial project and ongoing BAU. 


As a provider of digital services, you might think that I’ve got a vested interest in this - another line item I can add to billing – but BAU needn’t be a great expense and may well be manageable with internal resource.  What’s important is having the conversation around whose responsibility BAU is, the precise tasks it entails, and the checks and balances required to ensure these tasks are completed to an appropriate standard. 


Not planning for some investment in BAU is a dangerous false economy - like buying a Porsche and never taking it in for a service: Eventually, something will fail, and when it does, will probably incur significantly more expense! 



BAU from a customer perspective 


It’s worth understanding that BAU should also focus maintaining a great, consistent customer experience - ensuring that customers are still able to carry on their business as usual too.  Your average customer is unlikely to give two hoots what your maintenance schedules are for a portal or website and may not even notice tweaks to functionality and design.  


They will, however, notice when a portal suddenly stops working on their new phone, or their rent payment is hampered by a payment provider going down. Failures are remembered and talked about. They can dramatically impact customers’ ongoing use of digital tools, so an ongoing programme of proactive support and maintenance is essential to avoid losing customers’ faith. 


If you’ve read through the above and thought “this guy’s stating the obvious” I’m glad we’re on the same page. But I suspect that many readers will at least be thinking about reviewing what processes they currently have in place for BAU. 


If you fall into the latter category, you’re far from alone. If you need assistance – whether that’s technical intervention or simply a chat through any of the points raised above, feel free to reach out to us at We’re always happy to help. 

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