Thursday, March 25, 2010

Green Team Summary of Findings: Best Pratices (3 out of 5 stars)

Note: This post represents the synthesis of the thoughts, procedures and experiences of others as represented in the 14 articles read in advance of (see previous posts) and the discussion among the students and instructor during the Advanced Analytic Techniques class at Mercyhurst College on 25 March 2010 regarding Best Practices specifically. This technique was evaluated based on its overall validity, simplicity, flexibility and its ability to effectively use unstructured data.

Best Practice is a technique, method, or process that is believed to be more effective at delivering a particular outcome than any other technique, method, or process when applied to a particular industry. The idea is that with the 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.

  • Holistic
  • Allows practitioners to become more competitive
  • Increase sales and develop new markets
  • Reduce costs and become more efficient
  • Improve the skills of your workforce
  • Use technology more effectively
  • Reduce waste and improve quality
  • Respond more quickly to innovations in your sector

  • Does not account for the culure within an organization or context
  • Confined to a specific time frame
  • Difficult to determine which variables to assess
  • Risk of drawing incorrect assumptions about best practices

How To:
1) Identify one process or problem to improve.
2) Find a way to quantifiy your problem; a way in which it can be measured.
3) Find competitors and companies within your industry and outside your industry. This can be accomplished through researching industry trends and literature, and speaking with consultants, academics, and interest group officials on the subject matter.
4) Selecting appropriate organizations for your review.
5) Collect information on the successful, best practices of selected organizations.
6) Modify the best practice for your situation by changing the process/technique after going through the process and repeat.
7) Implement the process then measure the results.

Personal Application of Technique:
The class looked at the best practices for Liberal Arts college homepages based on USA Today's list of the top 10 liberal arts colleges. Our definition of "best" is based on the practices of the "best" liberal arts colleges, or the top 10. Specifically, we looked at the layouts of these homepages and identified how many of the top 10 included a central visual/image, lateral image, or image on the top of their homepages. This exercise was not weighted towards any particular college and the results are based on the number of colleges that include each item.

The result of the application was that the majority of colleges used a central image and an image at the top of the page. However, most of the colleges did not use a lateral image. Therefore, using the group's definition of "best" for the scope of this project, the Best Practice for the layout of the homepage for a liberal arts college should include a central image and an image at the top of the page.

For Further Information:

Summary of Findings (White Team): Best Practicies (3 out of 5 Stars)

Note: This post represents the synthesis of the thoughts, procedures and experiences of others as represented in the 12 articles read in advance of (see previous posts) and the discussion among the students and instructor during the Advanced Analytic Techniques class at Mercyhurst College on 25 MARCH 2010 regarding Best Practices Analysis specifically. This technique was evaluated based on its overall validity, simplicity, flexibility and its ability to effectively use unstructured data.

Best Practices methodology aims to identify those practices (ways of doing things) that are most effective for improving an organization's competitive advantage. This is done by determining which processes or practices are employed in a given industry and, of those, which practices reflect commonality and/or innovation. Cost benefit analysis is a complementary component to this methodology. The methods employed are dependent upon the definition of "best" including, but not limited to, the practices that are accepted as the best standard (generally accepted and employed) or the most innovative and effective practice.

  • Can be taught
  • Allows people entering a field to quickly identify common practices
  • Is an investigation of what works, rather than just studying how to avoid failure
  • Can be applied to multiple areas within one company
  • Requires analysts to operationally define qualitative elements to be measured

  • Definition dependent
  • Can result in copycatting without innovation, not dynamic
  • Ignores outside influences such as cultural norms and geography
  • A best practice in one company may not be applicable in another corporate culture
  • Doesn't work in overly competitive constantly changing industries
  • Confined to a particular time frame

  • Identify business processes or services which need to be improved (Ex: Mercyhurst home page)
  • Identify the metrics that we need to improve in that process or service (User interface and appearance)
  • Identify peers / competitors who are considered to be the best in that particular industry (Ex: Best Liberal Arts colleges in the US) or firms that may not be from the same peer group / industry but have a process that is considered best (Ex: Any other webpages identified by the team as having the best user interface)
  • Collect information on the metrics relating to the best practice or service identified from the peers / competitors identified
  • Look for commonalities in the collected metrics from the peer group identified
  • List down the parameters which were common across the peer group and ascertain how feasible it would be to implement them
  • Implement the process and measure the results

Personal Application:
During our classroom exercise, our team decided to look at the websites of the top ten liberal arts colleges in the United States. We developed an Excel spreadsheet dividing our criteria into two categories: layout and content. Layout, in this exercise, consisted of how the website was organized. We looked at several aspects of each website, from where the images were located, where the links were located, whether a search feature was available, navigation links on the top/bottom of the page, and how large the page was (minimal scrolling, lots of scrolling, no scrolling) There were many more aspects regarding content; basically, if one college had a particular link (say to "sustainability" we put it in the Excel spreadsheet and checked the other sites if they had it. Once we had the layout and content criteria established, we went through each website and which colleges matched the individual criteria, and which ones did not.

This exercise taught us to evaluate the meaning of the word 'best', and how it is applied to the subject and methodology. Is best the most common way? The most profitable way? The most efficient way? These are questions that one must ask when deciding how to distinguish a Best Practice. In this case, the best way was defined as the most common way among the top liberal arts schools. Breaking down the requirements into component parts and giving value to each part in relation to the end result is significant as well. Best practices methodology would have to be revisited in order to update the method if there were significant changes. For example, if a college or university started offering on their homepage the ability to manage a student's financial aid via a new software program, then that may be found to be a best practice that is adopted by other schools.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

What Is Best Practice?

In this article, Dr. Paul Duignan briefly examines what best practice is. He states that "The use of 'best practice' is currently recommended in a wide range of different sectors for promoting improved programs and interventions by a wide variety of different disciplines and stakeholders." However, Dr. Duignan finds that despite the widespread usage of the term, best practice lacks clarity. This is because there is no concrete and widely accepted definition of best practice. He states it could mean any of the following four things:

1. A practice which practitioners know is feasible to implement because they have implemented it.
2. A practice which practitioners think probably improves outcomes (but they are not making a strong high-level outcomes/impact evaluation attributional claim for it).
3. A practice which independent evaluators (or reviewers) of some sort think probably improves outcomes (but they are not making a strong high-level outcomes/impact evaluation attributional claim for it).
4. A practice for which someone has made a strong high-level outcomes/impact attributional claim (i.e. they have claimed that they have proof that the practice improves high-level outcomes).

Dr. Duignan argues that best practice is a combination of all four definitions, however, according to him, it is mostly like the first definition.

He also goes on to state that people occasionally criticize the use of the term 'best practice' because it suggests that there is only one way of doing things. He claims that those who argue from that point of view sometimes look at it in terms of 'good' rather than 'best' practice and 'practices' rather than just using the singular term 'practice'. This critique, however, is a matter of wording rather than an actual critique of the notion.

The strongest critique that Dr. Duignan points out is that best practice is difficult to transfer to other settings without starting the process over again. Basically, one cannot assume that just because it is a best practice in one setting, that it will be the best practice in another. This is why it all depends upon the context in which it is being applied.

Finally, Dr. Duignan points out that one of the greatest challenges with best practice is actually getting practitioners to implement it once the practice has been identified. Best practice studies are constantly being conducted. However, Duignan states that the findings of these studies "are not systematically taken up by the bulk of practitioners undertaking programs and interventions in an area."

Getting Smart About BI: Best Practices Deliver Real Value

In 2006, BusinessWeek Research Services (BWRS) conducted a study to discover and analyze the implementation practices of companies that utilize business intelligence (BI) and other analytics systems. Additionally, they looked to answer if BI helped these companies achieve their business value goals. This results of this study allowed BWRS to compile a list of five Best Practices for BI.

BWRS conducted an online survey of senior executives and managers at large companies who are members of BWRS' Market Advisory Board, as well as North American subscribers to BusinessWeek Magazine and/or the BusinessWeek Web site; BWRS received 359 survey respondents. In addition to the online survey, researchers conducted in-depth telephonic interviews with 10 senior officials at large and mid-size companies known to be using BI and analytics. Finally, BWRS analyzed results of prior BWRS surveys about BI and general business trends and applied those results to the current study.

The results of this study indicate that there are five best practices in business that result in achieving value from BI.
  1. Business information governance programs--programs that govern standards and corporate requirements for data management.
  2. Enterprise information strategy--a corporate-level strategy to organize, structure and leverage information assets.
  3. Information quality programs--formal procedures to identify, fix and prevent data quality problems such as inaccuracy and incompleteness. Most BI experts say data quality is the umber one prerequisite for delivering BI business value. This is especially true at large companies because they are prone to decentralized systems.
  4. Enterprise data warehouse--central repositories of enterprise data for reporting and analytical purposes. These warehouses prevent inaccuracy and are less expensive to maintain than a series of smaller repositories throughout an organization.
  5. BI competency centers--a core team dedicated to managing BI within their organization/business.
There is a clear correlation between achieving business value and implementing these five data management techniques. The survey found that the companies that achieve or exceed their expected business value were much more likely to have adopted these techniques. However, using these techniques alone will not result in achieving value from BI. The study offers examples such as executive sponsorship, business and IT alignment, and encouraging the adoption of BI tools as techniques to use in addition to the five Best Practices to achieve the full value of BI.

Nobody Left Behind: Report on Exemplary and Best Practices in Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Response For People with Disabilities

The Nobody Left Behind(NLB)study was developed to evaluate the preparedness of emergency management sites and their ability to assist persons with mobility impairments. A portion of the NLB study was designed to determine the exemplary and emerging best practices. Data collected for the study came from telephone surveys of site emergency managers, and through the review of local emergency plans.

Exemplary Practices
Out of the 30 sites surveyed, six were identified as having exemplary practices.These six sites were evenly divided between rural and urban settings. The six sites were determined to have exemplary practices through the cumulative effect of policies and procedures at place in the facilities and their communities.

Exemplary Practices:
1. Administering and maintaining a surveillance system, usually a self-identified registry system of persons needing assistance during a disaster or emergency.
2. Identifying accessible transportation vehicles and guidelines to evacuate persons with disabilities needing assistance.
3. Establishing a so called special medical needs shelter.
4. Conducting training and exercises on evacuation of persons with disabilities.

Emerging Best Practices
Analysis of policies from the 30 surveyed sites determined a number of evolving best practices. The practices were determined through research and recommendations from policy experts, advisors, and consultants. This analysis of policy and practices determined three emerging best practices.

Emerging Best Practices:
1. Comprehensive planning for persons with disabilities in the local emergency management plan.
2. Comprehensive planning tool using surveillance and consumer education.
3. Day to day surveillance and consumer education outreach.

This study attempts to understand best practices for emergency management relating to persons with disabilities. The effects of the study were limited by the size of the surveyed population. Practices may not be effective for feasible in certain situations.

White Paper: Best Practices in Emergency Alerting

This White Paper developed by Rave Wireless is designed to assist colleges and universities in their emergency management practices. The paper provides an initial overview of the fundamentals of emergency management practices. After establishing these fundamentals, the paper goes on to underline the best practices in emergency preparedness and establishing a communication/alert system for a college or university community.Additionally, the article provides templates for internal assessment.

Emergency Preparedness Best Practices
The initial pages of the article provide a number of Best Practices in Emergency Management for colleges and universities. These best practices focus on internal assessment to improve the effectiveness of emergency preparedness programs. This assessment is formed from successful practices used by other colleges and universities.

Best practices in Emergency Preparedness:Strategic Planning
-Assess and rank threats
-Identify prevention methods
-Define what constitutes and emergency
-Identify constituents and their roles
-Conduct assessments of situation and assess resource gaps
-Define scenarios and time lines for completing plans

Communication Plan Practices
Similar to the papers presentation on preparedness best practices, the article also provides best practices for implementing an emergency communication plan. Practices outlined are based on both company technical recommendations and practices employed by other colleges and universities. These practices relate to aspects from the implementation of a system to post incident evaluation of the system.

-Create communication processes, templates and approval procedures
-Define acceptable terms for emergency mass communications
-Determine target audience(s) specifics
-Identify the appropriate mode of communication for each audience
-Consider coverage and capacity limitations of your available communication modes
-Consider implementation of an inbound notification infrastructure
-Define coordination around the approval process in detail
-Establish policies for the frequency and level of communication
-Create message templates
-Identify alternates and back up plans
-Document and make plans easily accessible
-Communicate the plan to the campus and local community
-Internalize via Practice, Practice, Practice

-Communicate truthfully and promptly, and communicate succinctly
-Be comfortable not over communicating
-Expect to be forced to make decisions based on incomplete information
-Organize your first responders
-Plan to utilize response features in your alert solution

-Determine decisionmakers
-Provide a smooth transition from crisis to normal mode

Evaluation and Assessment
-Perform post-mortem analysis
-Utilize system self reporting

The article itself identifies that best practices used are unique and not always effective to parties utilizing them. Ideally practices in emergency management are designed to all target threats to communities, but often may not be able to address the rapidly changing nature of threats.

Physician Explanations For Failing To Comply With "Best Practices"

As the title indicates, this article is devoted to improving physician based compliance with evidence-based guidelines. To get more specific, the primary objective of this paper was to examine why physicians don't follow known "best practices" when treating patients with type 2 diabetes.

The research design for this study was a descriptive study based upon self-assessed compliance. The research team consisted of 85 internists who volunteered to aid in conducting the study. The physicians were queried by the internists sending out 7,000 randomly generated survey requests (using a professional organization) and 800 of the 7,000 expressed interest and 137 went on to complete the task. In completing the survey, the physicians simply reviewed their own charts for type 2 diabetes patients and then reported open-ended comments for the reasons they did not comply with known "best practices".

For diabetes care measures, the "physician noncompliance was most common for screening urinalysis(26%) and screening microalbuminuria (46%)" among the five measures examined. When examining the physicians open-ended comments, the main issues that were cited for noncompliance were physician oversight, patient non adherence, and systems issues. Physicians did admit that sometimes there is a conscious decision made to not comply due to the patient's age, comorbid illness or other factors. The study concludes that "even among a self-selected group of physicians, noncompliance with best practices in diabetes is common" and that physicians often disagree about what constitutes "best practice".

Monday, March 22, 2010

Small Business Best Practice Benchmarking: How to Effectively Borrow Ideas, Strategies and Tactics

Darrell Zahorsky, a former Guide, wrote an article about how to use Best Practices for small businesses. He discusses what Best Practices is by saying "A best practice is the process of finding and using ideas and strategies from outside your company and industry to improve performance in any given area." He goes on to also mention that Best Practices has been used by big business in the past and that Best Practices is similar to benchmarking.

Zahorsky then explains that Best Practices can help a small business by allowing them to...
  • Reduce costs
  • Avoid mistakes
  • Find new ideas
  • Improve performance.
Zahorsky they describes that in order to successfully use Best Practices, a small business must first note the "ingredients" a successful competitor is using go improve. He notes that only by looking at the specific steps a competitor makes to succeed can you "bake the cake."

In order to apply Best Practices, Zahorksy gives a list of steps to use.
  • Identify one business process or service to improve. (Product delivery)
  • Look for one metric to measure. (Late Shipment %)
  • Find competitors and companies within your industry and outside your industry. (FedEx)
  • Collect information on the successful, best practices of other companies. (FedEx spoke and hub system)
  • Modify the best practice for your situation. (Have one retail store per city act as central hub for shipments.)
  • Implement the process then measure the results.

Best Practice In Performance Reporting In Natural Resource Management

Published in 1997 by the Department of Natural Resources and Environment - Victoria, this article is chiefly about the progress of "outcome based management" of natural resources in Australian park management agencies. According to the paper, the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat (1996) provides a good definition for best practices sharing which is the "capture, dissemination and sharing of a work method, process or initiative to improve organizational effectiveness, service delivery and employee satisfaction".

From here, the article says that a literature review was performed and a questionnaire was created and distributed. The questionnaire was passed out to an officer in all State and Territory protected area management agencies as well as to the Australian National Parks and Wildlife Service. The purpose of the survey was five-fold looking into: 1)to examine the degree of which performance reporting was used by agencies, 2)determine the methods that were used, 3)assess the extent of ecological monitoring programs, 4)examine any "State Of the Environment (SOE)" reporting for performance reporting, 5)investigate best practices in activity bases monitoring.

As a result of the questionnaire and literature review, the researchers determined that there was very little information on best practices in regards to natural resource management in parks, however interest is growing in this subject area.

Developing A Framework Of The Best Practice Model For Natural Resource Management
The last wholly relevant piece of this article was the focus on the development of a best practice model that fits in with the natural resource management focus. A number of criteria were laid out for the development of a best practice model based upon Australian and international approaches. These criteria included:

1)a clear nexus between an agency's legislative requirements and its strategic objectives for natural resource management
2)clearly stated management goals that are derived directly from strategic objectives
3)a plan of natural resource management programs and activities at both the agency and the park level for meeting the strategic objectives within a specified time-frame (both medium term and annual)
4)performance indicators and targets against which the degree to which goals were achieved can be assessed, at both the agency and the park level
5)natural resource monitoring programs that provide data for the assessment of performance indicators

In conclusion, none of the agencies assessed in Australia nor elsewhere, meet all of the aforementioned criteria for best practice analysis in regards to natural resource management

The Study of Best Practices in Civil Service Reforms


The concept of "best practice" is widely used to distinguish exemplary or improved performance in organizations. James Katorobo defines best practice research (BPR) as "the selective observation of a set of exemplars across different contexts in order to derive more generalizable principles and theories of management". The focus of analyses is on "success stories" in order to discover the chain of practices, or ways of doing things that achieve results. The fundamental objective of BPR is to discover best practices that can be adapted by other organizations where the level of achievement is low.

Civil Service Application

Levels of civil service reform performance differ from country to country: some doing well, others poorly. Whereas focusing on problems and difficulties may encourage negativism and promote organizational paralysis; focusing on success stories and best practices may encourage a positive outlook and promote diffusion of best practices.

Key Concepts

  • Best practice research is typified by a focus on successful cases. It is also typified by the objective of discovering the "causes" of that success, not merely to explain and understand (academic), but to guide action (pragmatic).
  • The concept of "best" implies an ability to evaluate several practices and their impact and to conclude that one or more practices are more successful; that is, these "best" practices lead to more desirable results. Underlying this evaluation is the notion that the practices can be graded on a scale of measurement.
  • For a set of practices to be useful, it should be holistic, or archetypal. A plethora of details can create unmanageable complexity.
  • A generic best practice is one that is applicable irrespective of institutional and structural differences.


Critics of the "best practices" approach often ask why not study the bad cases in order to identify and avoid problems. Alas, focusing exclusively on problems, mistakes and failures provides few lessons on what to do. By focusing on successes, a manager can learn how to overcome problems.

SEO "Best Practices" Are Bunk

In an article on Search Engine Land, Adam Audette describes how the Best Practices model is not worth using in search engine optimization (SEO). Audette gives a brief background as to how Best Practices was started in the mid 1990's, and then begins to discuss how the methodology fails when being used for SEOs. Audette claims specifically that the entire basis of Best Practices, which is based on using a specific rule set, used throughout an organization to follow a certain procedure to achieve the "best" practice, is incompatible with how SEO is currently being used.

Aduette then explains the negatives of Best Practices for SEOs;
"By their very nature, best practices are rule-sets that are standardized and formalized procedures. There is no competitive advantage in having best practices, at least in SEO. There is only a summation of basic webmastering (e.g., place relevant keywords in the title tag, make pages semantic and relevant, etc). That’s simply not cutting it anymore, because frankly, that stuff represents the basic price of admission. Best practices are neutered, stale and massively reproduced conventions that have been used (and sometimes abused) to the point of ubiquity. SEO and ubiquity don’t mix. By definition, a best practice:
1-Is a static rule-set
2-Is a standard to be followed has worked in the past (read: is old)
3-Has been popularized (read: is average)
4-Limits judgement, evaluation, and strategy (cornerstones of quality search marketing)."

  • Is a set of rules that can be taught
  • Can be employed throughout an organization to improve multiple areas
  • Not dynamic
  • Doesn't work in overly competitive constantly changing industries

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Differences Across First District Banks In Operational Efficiency (Using Best Practices Methodology)

In this article, Robert Tannenwald uses Best Practices Methodology to find which banks are most efficient in the First Federal Reserve District. He also analyzed the trends in efficiency of the banks in that New England district over the course of several years. For the purpose of this article, the author defines Best Practice as an ideal or a business' "maximum attainable performance". This is impossible to calculate precisely, but scholars can approximate it by seeing which businesses operate most efficiently. To this end, the author employs two complex statistical methods to quantify best practices which are models unique to the banking industry --the Stochastic Economic Frontier Approach (SEFA) and the Thick Frontier Approach (TFA).

Strength of the Model:
  • Quantifies the impact of superior practices

Weakness of the Model:

  • It is hard to identify what criterion to measure for efficiency
  • Statistically complex


The author uses SEFA, where regression techniques yield a model in which total cost = a function of variables including input prices and the mix of outputs. The resulting function represents best practice and can be used as a benchmark for evaluating the efficiency of individual banks. The study also uses TFA, which assumes that banks with relatively low average cost (total costs/ total assets) set the standard of efficiency with which experts can compare all other banks of a comparable size.


Assuming that the methodologies were sound, the banks in New England improved their practices to become more efficient between 1985-89 and 1990-93.


These methods of using Best Practices have allure due to the hard numbers they yield. However, the results are only valid if the researcher chooses the right variable to measure in the first place. Also, the statistical complexity of this form of Best Practice task is daunting which makes it an impractical choice for low-stakes analytic exercises.


This article came from a proprietary database Business Source Elite.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Remote Area Indigenous Housing: Towards A Model Of Best Practice

This article by John Minney, Michelle Manicaros, and Michael Lindfield used a Best Practices model to evaluate the success of 26 rural Indigenous people housing programs in Australia, Canada, and the United States.

Manicaros defines Best Practice Methodology as "examples of action which could be recommended for further application whether in a similar or adopted form ." In other words, the technique looks to other similar programs or businesses to determine what works and what does not. Best Practice Methodology originated in a business context, but this article shows its adaptation to a social science. The article mentions that the United Nations Center for Human Settlements uses the technique to evaluate programs to discern their successful characteristics.

Model Strengths:
  • Dynamic
  • Holistic

Model Weaknesses:

  • Ignores the influence of geography, cultural norms, and institutional context
  • Must be confined to a specific time frame
  • Difficult to define which variables should be assessed

How to: The study made a framework to represent best practices in a two dimensional matrix. Then the authors evaluated the degree of success in each area using either a check or minus sign.

Dimension 1: Evaluates the 4 stages of housing provision

  • Needs assessment
  • Development and Design
  • Implementation
  • Post Construction

Dimension 2: Contains variables relevant to the stages of the housing process

  • Funding
  • Skills development and training
  • Technology
  • Organization
  • Cultural factors
  • Hard and soft infrastructure of assistance program

Results: The exercise identified the several areas of weakness in rural indigenous people housing programs. There needs to be more flexibility in the way that funding can be spent. Land titles need to be clearly defined to give the program staff maximum options to assist their clients. Also, there must be sufficient infrastructure within successful programs to maintain the houses after they are built.

This study lacked the robust nature of some Best Practices exercises as it did not quantify the rating of each factor. However, it proved that the model has useful applications in analyzing social programs.


This article came from a proprietary database Academic Search Complete.

Business Link Application of Best Practices

According to Business Link, the official UK government website for businesses, best practice means “finding – and using – the best ways of working to achieve your business objectives.” This involves monitoring successful businesses, including those outside your sector, and measuring how you work against how the market leaders operate. Evaluating how your operations compare with the most effective and profitable enterprises, and then using their most successful elements - the 'best practice' - in your own business, can make a big difference.

Best practice through benchmarking

Applying best practice means learning from and through the experience of others. One way of doing this is through benchmarking, which allows you to compare your business with other successful businesses to highlight areas where your business could improve.

Best practice through standards

Independent bodies such as the British Standards Institution (BSI) establish standards, which are fixed specifications or benchmarks. BSI develops both technical and management standards:

  • technical standards are precise specifications against which a business can measure the quality of its product, service or processes
  • management standards are models for achieving best business and organizational practice

Applying the appropriate standards to your business will enable you to apply best practice across the organization, and to work against objective criteria to achieve manufacturing or service quality.


A best practice strategy can help your business to:

  • become more competitive
  • increase sales and develop new markets
  • reduce costs and become more efficient
  • improve the skills of your workforce
  • use technology more effectively
  • reduce waste and improve quality
  • respond more quickly to innovations in your sector


The guide goes on to provide in-depth applications of best practice to management, people management, and sales and marketing. It also provides useful information on how IT can improve the use of best practice for businesses.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Viperlink Application Of Best Practices Methodology

Viperlink – a Microsoft-certified Gold partner – is guided by a “Best Practice” methodology starting with systems design to pre-installation planning right up to the actual implementation work. The direct impact to your results-based, customized IT infrastructure is a fully functional and consistent setup. Yes, an implementation process that is systematically guided by the idea of deploying technology that works, no matter who installs the IT systems.
The term “Best Practice” is used frequently in such diverse fields as project management, hardware installation, software product development, government administration, the education system, and many other complex scenarios and human endeavors. In truth, a “Best Practice” is simply a technique or methodology that – through experience and research – has proven to be reliable and leads to an expected outcome or the desired result.

Effective Change Management

Throughout the IT outsourcing industry, several “Best Practices” are widely followed. Some of the more commonly used include an iterative development process, requirement management, quality control, and change control management.

An iterative or repetitive development process, which progresses in incremental stages, helps to maintain a focus on manageable tasks, and ensures that earlier stages are successful before the later stages are attempted.
Requirement management addresses the problem of shifting requirements, which is a situation in which the client requests additional changes to the service or product that are beyond the scope of what was originally planned. To guard against this common phenomenon, requirement management employs strategies such as documentation of requirements, sign-offs, and defining specific methodologies.
Quality control is a strategy that defines objective measures for assessing quality throughout the development process – in terms of the service offering or product functionality, reliability, and performance.
Change control is a strategy that seeks to closely monitor changes throughout the iterative process and implementation rollout. Here, prompt documentation ensures that records are intact for changes that have been made, and that unacceptable changes are not made or started.

A “Best Practice” tends to spread or be repeated throughout a field or industry after an actual success situation has been demonstrated. However, you must realize that an actual or demonstrated “Best Practice” mindset can be slow to spread, even within a dynamic organization.
The main barriers to adoption of a “Best Practice” methodology are: a 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.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Difficulties with Best Practice Methodology

The author of this article, Derek Stockley, defines Best Practice Methodology as "a method where organizations identify their key business processes, and actively seek out and compare them with similar processes in organizations recognized for their exceptional customer service or outstanding business processes. The purpose of the comparison is to gather information and insight about better, more efficient and effective methods and approaches, with the view to identifying and implementing the 'best' practice/s. The comparison can be informal, through the analysis of competitor processes or systems, or done more formally through a co-operative venture (benchmarking)."

Stockley, the owner of a training and consulting firm in Australia, identifies difficulties with implementing Best Practice:

Ideas gained from other organizations may not be implemented successfully if the company's culture is not taken into consideration. It is important to not underestimate the strength of the company's culture when making decisions using another company's ideas.

Companies can make incorrect assumptions about best practices.

Outsourcing should be carefully considered and scrutinized as a means of cost reduction, paying considerable attention to what service or staff would be outsourced; it is important to look at the big picture when using Best Practice.

Best Practice is most useful when used in conjunction with other methodologies such as benchmarking.

GOA Application of Best Practices Methodology


The "best practices methodology" is used to analyze organizations that are widely recognized for making large improvements in their products or processes. The organizations are then used as models for a "how-to" for increased efficiency and performance.

"Best Practices Methodology: A New Approach for Improving Government Operations" looks at how government operations, such as supply management, can be improved by implementing this private sector methodology. A best practices review can be applied to a variety of processes, such as payroll, travel administration, employee training, accounting and budgeting systems, procurement, transportation, maintenance services, repair services, and distribution. Best practices can be used to help streamline processes for cost savings.

Step-By-Step Actions

(1) Gaining an understanding of and documenting the process you want to improve.
(2) Researching industry trends and literature, and speaking with consultants, academics, and interest group officials on the subject matter.
(3) Selecting appropriate organizations for your review.
(4) Collecting data from these selected organizations.
(5) Identifying barriers to change.
(6) Comparing and contrasting processes to develop recommendations.

Here is an example of government use of best practices:

Defense Logistics: Observations on Private Sector Efforts to Improve
Operations (GAO/NSIAD-91-210, June 13, 1991).
Private sector firms have found that integrated logistics management can help reduce costs and increase their competitiveness. Major elements for successful implementation of integrated logistics management include total cost analysis and top management commitment. DOD may be able to benefit from private sector experiences in improving their logistics operations.

This article did not offer strengths and weaknesses for Best Practices, but it did offer many examples of its use in the private sector.