What is a Best Practice?
Best practices are “those practices that have been shown to produce superior results; selected by a systematic process; and judged as exemplary, good, or successfully demonstrated”, these practices are then adapted to fit a particular organisation. Benchmarking is a systematic process used for identifying and implementing best or better practices.
Do best practices lead to world-class performance?
The use of best practices, when incorporated within all areas of an organisation, including stakeholder relationships, can lead to an organisation attaining world class performance. Often, an organisation may use one or more best practices and become renowned for its performance in these areas, but unless best practices are adopted consistently across all the functions of an organisation, as encouraged by business excellence models, it is likely that world class levels of performance will remain out of reach.
‘World class’ can be defined as recognition of organisational performance levels that have been ‘rubber stamped’ by an impartial assessor or identified through benchmarking. Today, this term is applied to any organisation that succeeds in winning a national productivity award or national business excellence award using an internationally approved business excellence model.
The BPIR.com team’s experience is that whilst there may be at a certain point of time, a best practice for a process or activity, most organisations are just searching for better practices that they can quickly identify and implement. This viewpoint is supported by Dr Robert Camp, the acknowledged father of benchmarking, who states, “the point of best practices is to discover and close performance gaps, so defining “best” might be as simple and subjective as what an executive instinctively feels is best, knowing the business and its competition. Adopting this process does not necessarily mean aiming for world-class”.
Who uses best practices?
Organisations that are serious about improving their performance, financial or otherwise, continually search for and/or develop better business practices. The fastest and easiest way to improve is to compare and learn from other successful organisations. To quote an idiom among exponents of the use of best practice, “there’s no point in re-inventing the wheel”. Most organisations use or have used best practices at some point, consciously or not. Over the years best practices emerge, and are later surpassed and proved inefficient as the world and the way business is done changes, this is why so many high-performing organisations adopt a culture of continuous improvement and innovation. Organisations that are serious about improving their performance, financial or otherwise, continually search for and/or develop better business practices. The fastest and easiest way to improve is to compare and learn from other successful organisations. To quote an idiom among exponents of the use of best practice, “there’s no point in re-inventing the wheel”. Most organisations use or have used best practices at some point, consciously or not. Over the years best practices emerge, and are later surpassed and proved inefficient as the world and the way business is done changes, this is why so many high-performing organisations adopt a culture of continuous improvement and innovation.
The potential improvements to be gained from adapting and incorporating proven high-performance practices in your organisation can be anything from small continuous steps of improvement, to radical breakthroughs that result in significant positive change. Like anything else that reaps rewards however, much work must be done and done properly to enable these potential gains.
Organisations that have succeeded in implementing best practices may have them assessed by participating in the International Best Practice Competition (IBPC) or through applying for Best Practice Certification. Hundreds of best practices that have been shared in the IBPC are described in the BPIR.com. The competition assesses best practices based on their:
- Level of deployment
- Level of innovation
- Results achieved
- Evidence it is a best practice (use of benchmarking/comparison of results/peer reviewed)
- Review/next steps planned
What are the common challenges associated with a best practice approach?
There are various challenges involved in the process of improving by learning from best practice, key among these are:
- Having enough knowledge of your own systems and processes to be able to compare against others
- Knowing where to find best practices
- Knowing whether a practice is suitable for your situation
- Adapting the practice to your organisation
- Finding the time and other resources to search for and assess best practices
How can the BPIR.com help?
Membership to the BPIR.com addresses these issues in several ways through providing:
- Information relating to tools and techniques that can be used to understand your own processes and adapt the processes of others.
- A huge resource of good or best practices as used by organisations from around the world in the form of case studies, expert opinion, and survey data.
- Videos of the best practices of organisations participating in the International Best Practice Competition
- Details of thousands of organisations that have been recognised by awards for excellent performance or by researchers as having excellent practices. These provide a useful starting point in the search for benchmarking partners. Having such a resource on hand helps to reduce the cost/time required when searching for best practices.
- A bi-monthly Best Practice Report. This provides best practices, innovative ideas and research data on topics and tools that will help you to stay up to date on the latest business trends and practices.
- A full-set of resources enabling you to undertake benchmarking projects using the TRADE Best Practice Benchmarking Methodology.