BAU/Incremental Change

Martin Walker

You could not step twice into the same river; for other waters are ever flowing on to you.

– Heraclitus

If the Greek philosopher Heraclitus had not died in 475 BC, you could imagine him being a thoughtful IT manager. Even if there is little budget for major investment, the infrastructure changes on an almost daily basis. Regulatory change, new clients, new products and the churn of upgrades in underlying technologies such as databases, messaging layers and web servers mean than money is always being spent and change being implemented. The cost of seemingly doing nothing can be very high, particularly in the larger investment banks (or markets divisions), and can also be a cause of great frustration to many revenue generators.

With “change” always progressing to some extent in every capital markets firm, it is essential to understanding the mechanisms by which “business as usual” (BAU) change progresses. Well-managed BAU can genuinely mean progressive incremental improvement. It can also be a mechanism to increase system and organisational complexity, with all of the unfortunate consequences. This chapter will provide an explanation of how BAU usually works, and the

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