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A Best practice is a technique, method, process, activity, incentive or reward that is believed to be more effective at delivering a particular outcome than any other technique, method, process, etc. The idea is that with proper processes, checks, and testing, a desired outcome can be delivered with fewer problems and unforeseen complications. Best practices can also be defined as the most efficient (least amount of effort) and effective (best results) way of accomplishing a task, based on repeatable procedures that have proven themselves over time for large numbers of people.
Despite the need to improve on processes as times change and things evolve, best-practice is considered by some as a business buzzword used to describe the process of developing and following a standard way of doing things that multiple organizations can use for management, policy, and especially software systems.
As the term has become more popular, some organizations have begun using the term "best practices" to refer to what are in fact merely 'rules', causing a linguistic drift in which a new term such as "good ideas" is needed to refer to what would previously have been called "best practices."
Best practices in a particular industry or other professional field can be exchanged, just like any instructional capital, by any means, though Internet-related information is most commonly exchanged this way:
- source code
Best practices domains
Domains where Best Practices have been applied include:
- Incremental and iterative development
- Quality assurance
- Performance engineering
- Risk management
- Change process
- Change Management
- Release execution
- Release control
- Defect tracking
- Use case
- Requirements management
- Automated testing process
- Evidence-based medicine
- Physical planning and land use management
- Water pollution control, watershed protection and restoration
- Local governance
- Home care
Best practices are used in technology development, such as new software, but also in construction, transportation, business management, sustainable development, and various aspects of project management. Best practices are also used in healthcare to deliver high quality care that promotes best outcomes.
Documenting and charting these procedures and practices is a complicated and time-consuming process often skipped by companies, even though they may practice the proper processes consistently.
Some consulting firms specialize in the area of Best Practice. Often "best practice" consulting firms offer pre-made 'templates' to standardize business process documentation. A key strategic talent is required to provide good "best practice" consulting to organisations: the ability to balance the uniqueness of an organisation with practices it has in common with other organisations.
In many cases the cost of making modifications to a system or process which comes standard in a template or with a delivered computer application forces an organisation into using "best practice". Often it is to the benefit of the organisation. Sometimes a "best practice" will hurt an organisation. Good "best practice" consulting firms can assist organisations in making decisions appropriate for the organisation.
Good operating practice
Good operating practice is a strategic management term. More specific uses of the term include good agricultural practices, good manufacturing practice, good laboratory practice, good clinical practice and good distribution practice.
Because of the use of best-practice as a buzzword, some people are asking if a better term could be found. This could be something such as “better practices”, or “current thinking”.
The thinking is along these lines. The term “best practices” has implications of finality, obedience, authority, and universality. The term ‘best practices’ implies that some source has the final answer to a matter in dispute or disarray. The matter is closed, decided, set and resolved. The term "better practices" seems to seek better ways, which may even lead to tweaking the suggested practice to make it even better. It suggests that all of us together can come up with something better than any one of us can arrive at individually, and places authority in the community. The term may imply that the better practice is not universal, but depends on the specific situation.
- Best coding practices
- Best practice exchange
- Best available technology
- Business rule
- Standard of Good Practice
- Strategic management
- Project management