When Best Practice Isn’t Best Practice
Before I start, let me be clear. I am not slating best practice. Best practice business processes are great and can transform a business.
People like to throw around that expression “best practice”; especially consultants. The term describes procedures which are deemed to be correct or most effective. Adopting best practice is designed to bring you multiple benefits. Your business will become more effective if you can successfully implement these established approaches. Figuring out the “right” way to do things then doing it over and over again will impact on the success of your business.
Following this theory, a consultant who understands all the best practices applicable to your business simply has to share this knowledge with you. Job done. Consultant basks in glory while you enjoy unfettered success.
Is it this simple? Can your business success only be attributable to pattern recognition?
There are many industries and industry giants whose business has been revolutionised by best practice.
But it can’t be your only strategy.
My Own Best Practice Epiphany
When I was a new sales manager about 10 years ago, when it was first published, I read Chet Holmes The Ultimate Sales Machine. Although it isn’t billed as such, it’s the ultimate best-practice-sales-process book. In it Holmes promises to revolutionise your sales business by honing 12 key processes (which he calls strategies). His book, as the title suggests, is all about precision.
It transformed the way I viewed sales. Up until that point it hadn’t occurred to me that sales followed a process. Or that you could box up best practice and replicate it. Instead, sales was just something I “did”. But it also made me question the validity of such prescriptive scriptures. Sure, sales is a skill which can be honed. But can it be boxed into a best practice business process? Not quite.
Sales is about best practice business processes.
And it isn’t.
That is to say, it is definitely possible to hone your skill into what you consider “best practice”, and you can definitely attempt to follow a process.
Until you can’t.
There will always be examples of where your process falls down or your best practice doesn’t quite cut it. It also changes when you introduce a human component. After all, every person is different. We all have different needs, different skills and a unique way of communicating and interacting.
The world is full of curve balls, square pegs and round holes. Best practice does not allow for curve balls.
Instead, I think that best practice is more like a recipe from a book. Even following a recipe to the letter, the success of the dish is determined by the taster. And don’t we all have different tastes?
How to Make Best Practice Better
It’s a bit unnatural, I would argue, to shoehorn the same best practice business process into every business. Instead, it makes more sense to model businesses unique practices around what is considered best practice. How about encouraging the business to make incremental improvements, which more closely match industry standards? Or what about listening to what makes them unique and building best practice around that? This slightly different approach allows a company to feel valued for their differences, listened to but also challenged.
Best Practice in Software
Many software resellers talk about things like “out-the-box” and “end-to-end” best practice business processes being “baked” into the software. This is a good thing. Software companies like SAP or Oracle have implemented into thousands of businesses, in hundreds of sectors worldwide. They should know their stuff. They DO know their stuff. But YOU know YOUR stuff. Take what you want. Leave the rest. Or better yet …. Customise the rest. Keep what makes you, you.
Cofficient Ltd provisions some of the world’s best business software. We implement best practice business processes where you need them and we help you customise the software around your own individual business needs.
To talk to one of our experienced software and business consultants, please get in touch