‘Best Practices’ has become one of the most used buzzwords in nearly all industries and organizations around the world.1, 2 Whether it is the education system or the health care industry, business world or the charity/non-profit sector, government administration or the hospitability management, department of defense or social media, best practices is being given plenty consideration not only in designing new projects and system but also in improving existing systems and processes.2, 3 Therefore, it becomes critical to define best practices for the sake of further discussion.
The definition of best practices can be as simple as ‘commercial or professional procedures that are accepted or prescribed as being correct or most effective’4, ‘methods or techniques that have consistently shown results superior to those achieved with other means, and that are used as a benchmark’5 or ‘techniques or methodologies that, through experience and research, have proven to reliably lead to a desired result’3. Alternatively, some prefer to define best practice more specifically as ‘an approach to find win/ways to change and improve what you do, respecting the various stakeholders and showing empathy for their situation; an approach using step by step processes to tackle challenges, recording at each stage what works and what doesn’t, sharing the results, and then repeating the successful formulae to create consistency, quality, and repeatability; an approach that questions what you do and why you do it both at the strategic and operational level constantly seeking the most efficient and effective ways to make profit for the business’6.
In general, a best practice can be a method, a technique, a set of guideline, ethics, idea, processes, systems or practices used by a company or organization to consistently achieve the “best” goals or results.1, 2, 7 These best practices should be reproducible not only for the organization in question but also for other organizations or industries that adopt them, with equally successful results. That said, best practices cannot be the same over a very long period of time. With fast advancing research and development in the field of computers and technology, best practices may or may not be the “best” available for that time. Thus, there has to be a constant analysis of the needs of the organization or system over time to make the necessary updates or upgrades to ensure that the “best” practices are still better than others.
While a blog, ‘Best Practices Club’ considers best practices as a discipline, provides steps for identifying best practice and provides a list of pitfalls to be avoided8, another website indicates that lack of knowledge about current best practices, a lack of motivation to make changes involved in their adoption and a lack of knowledge and skills required to do so may be big barriers for adoption of best practices.3 There has also been some criticism to best practices. An article from Forbes insists that these ever changing so called “best” practices should really be called “next” practices because they seldom are on-size-fits-all solution. In fact, the author goes not so say that every business problem is different and therefore, the “best” practices from each of them will obviously be different.9 Another article from Inc.com also reinforces that not all business problems are same and it is essential to determine if the problem is industry specific, context based or user based. Only then can the best solutions be sought. It cautions its readers that best practices are only an average or a benchmark and that creativity and innovation can help business excel and stand out from the rest of the crowd.10