Believing in Best Practices isn’t like believing Santa Claus. They aren’t some nebulous concept only to be trotted out on special occasions in front of a group of executives who want to believe, but whose experience with consulting firms tells them otherwise. No, Best Practices are more like a recipe for chocolate chip cookies. They should have a repeatable recipe, be tested by experts, be customized to their eaters, and never be “the same old cookie” but evolve to new tastes.
Last week I was visiting a client who asked me the question, “What are the Best Practices you recommend?” What immediately came to mind was what I really think of Best Practices:
- Other Consulting firms: Basically we have only done it “this way” so now “this way” is our best practice
- Software Vendors: Our software only does it “this way” so it must be a best practice
- What I think: Consistently improving and refining the way of doing things over 100s of customers based on the LONG TERM value they are actually receiving. Then incorporating those practices into the way you will work with your future customer’s specific requirements.
- the history and knowledge of what you are embarking on so you don’t make stupid mistakes a lot of people make (i.e. coding time requirements into the Schema instead of using the configuration options available to you)
- having the templates and lessons learned so you are not starting from scratch
- tweaking your best practices to the client’s short term needs, without jeopardizing the long term options available to them in an upgrade or reorganization
Whatever your thoughts are on Best Practices, they shouldn’t be mediocre:
- They should not be Static, they should be constantly improved upon.
- They should be a springboard to finding the BEST SOLUTIONS for a client’s needs (i.e. Union and Non-Union clients have different challenges and needs)
- They should be viewed as a foundation to start with but never meant to work for every client, especially in technology with variables in unions, industries, user base, geographic locations, etc
- Most importantly they should save the client time and money
Like chocolate chip cookies, they should be “kid tested and mother approved.” The core ingredients are the foundation and then add some pecans, chocolate chips, or M&Ms for your “best practice cookie.”