What is good practice?

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What is a good (best) practice?

A best practice can be defined as a technique or methodology that, through experience and research, has proven to reliably lead to a desired result. A more detailed definition is the following:

Best practices are those documented, accessible, effective, appropriate, and widely accepted strategies, plans, tactics, processes, methodologies, activities, and approaches developed by knowledgeable bodies and carried out by adequately trained personnel which are in compliance with existing laws and regulations and that have been shown over time through research, evaluation, and practice to be effective at providing reasonable assurance of desired outcomes, and which are continually reviewed and improved upon as circumstances dictate.”

Criteria for selection best practices

This definition of best practices suggests that a good practice has a minimum number of essential attributes. A good practice is:

  1. Documented
  2. Accessible
  3. Based on a process and a methodology
  4. Tested and practiced
  5. Able to provide assurance to reach a defined result
  6. A continual process of improvement, including continual training, education, and certification
  7. Replicable
  8. Efficient - Benefits outweigh costs – Relation between inputs and outputs is better than practices of peers
  9. Effective - lead to desired outcomes or impact- Relation between output and outcome is better than practices of peers
  10. Adaptable and able to address contingencies
  11. Providing benchmarks and frameworks,
  12. Addressing the human, administrative, technical, and physical aspects of a practice.

This includes people, processes, procedures, polices, plans, systems, networks, technologies, and facilities that make the implementation of practices possible. These attributes constitute the main criteria for the selection of best practices.

What to do with this?

From all the definitions here above, we can see that there is a close relation between a good/best practice and a methodology. On one side, it is said that a methodology can be a system of practices, and on the other side, a best practice should be based on a process and a methodology. From this, we should conclude that:

  1. a good/best practice can be a methodology as such, if the whole methodology, as a process, is necessary to lead to the expected results;

, OR

  1. a good/best practice can be a part of a methodology, or one of the steps of the process, if this specific step contributes significantly to the impact of the process and can be replicable in other contexts or used as part of another methodology/process.