Is there really any such thing as Best Practices?

July 28th, 2009

Someone asked me recently if SafeSourcing was the best at what we do in retail. The normal reaction is to blurt out; “Of course we are!” But let’s step back for a minute and figure out what a best practice really is or is not.

Someone asked me recently if SafeSourcing was the best at what we do in retail. The normal reaction is to blurt out; “Of course we are!” But let’s step back for a minute and figure out what a best practice really is or is not.

According to Wikipedia 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. This authors addition to this definition is that this depends entirely on a customers opinion as to whether this works for them at being the most advantageous process. For one customer it may, for another it may not, and a lot of times that comes down to the size of the problem and the cost associated with implementing a best practice.

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 the procurement space? Or does it mean they are the best practices for just their product family when it is deployed in the manor they suggest?

This author does not believe that a 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 or career long process that must evolve over time as tools, businesses, and existing processes change based on market dynamics.

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 an organizations customers use the same process. I’m not sure that this is ever a question one asks when looking for a reference as to an organizations services or tools offerings. The question this begs is; Are these supposed best practices consistent and carried out each and every time to the promised 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 inclusion at all previous customer implementations 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 so called best practice that drives similar results on a consistent basis regardless of customer.

This author will continue to refer to our services offerings as extremely high quality processes and techniques focused on continuous improvement that delivers the promised or anticipated results. Our customers, supplier participants and business partners will determine if they are best practices for them based on their results.

The simple answer to the question is SafeSourcing the best at what you do in retail is YES!

We appreciate and look forward to your comments.

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