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.


  1. I am not too sure if companies within the industry would be willing to openly share their "best" processes. I guess if firms look elsewhere outside their industry, it would foster innovation. At the same time, firms will be forced to redesign the process to suit their industry and culture so there is a lesser probability of a cultural mismatch.

    Examples - South West Airlines is said to have improved its aircraft refueling and turnaround time by taking best practices from an Indy500 pit crew.

    Mariott hotels refined its guest check in process by taking pointers from hospital emergency check in procedures.

    Source for examples:

  2. According to this definition there are a lot of similarities between the best practice analysis and benchmarking, but the question is if the best practice analysis is only for the companies within the same industry or it can be applied to companies outside an industry. I also want to know how the external environment such as laws and regulations, economic trends, and politics effects on a company’s best practices when it comes to comparison.

  3. In response to what Narvan mentioned, I came across some articles that said best practices is not limited to a specific industry. In fact, my article on best practices and civil reform had this quote: "Companies are not limited in their source of best practices; for example, a construction company can learn a management system from a banking firm, and a communications firm mechanized its billing process by copying and modifying best practice from the New York stock exchange." (See