What are best practices? And, why should we care?

June 11th, 2008

According to Wikpedia a best practice asserts that there is a technique, method, process, activity, incentive or reward that is more effective at delivering a particular outcome than any other technique, method, process, etc.
So when a company indicates to you that they use best practices, does this mean they are supporting what is the best practice for the entire industry they serve such as e- procurement. Or does it mean they are the best practices for just their product family?
I don’t believe that best practice is just following a standard way of doing things that can be carried out by multiple organizations. A best practice is a life long process that must evolve over time as tools, businesses, and existing processes change.
If one uses best practices, should not the result be an ideal state that a person or an organization set out to achieve in the first place. In fact if the process used is actually a best practice shouldn’t all of a companies customers use the same process. I’m not sure that this is ever a question one asks when looking for a referral about a companies service offerings. Please tell me about these companies’ best practices. Are they consistent and carried out each and every time to the desired result.
One way to ensure good quality results is to provide templates that can be used over and over again and are evaluated at the completion of each practice and changed when need be. This then requires passage to other customers in order to insure the integrity of the process. This elevates the actual process beyond just a buzzword and moves a particular process in the direction of becoming a best practice that drives similar results on a consistent basis.
I will continue to call our services offerings high quality process techniques focused on continuous improvement that deliver anticipated results. Our customers, supplier participants and business partners will determine if they are best practices for them.
I look forward to your comments.
Ron

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