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  • Best practice definition and meaning

    A best practice is a method or technique that has been generally accepted as superior to any alternatives because it produces results that are superior to those achieved by other means or because it has become a standard way of doing things, e.g., a standard way of complying with legal or ethical requirements.

    Best practices are used to maintain quality as an alternative to mandatory legislated standards and can be based on self-assessment or benchmarking.[1] Best practice is a feature of accredited management standards such as ISO 9000 and ISO 14001.[2] Some consulting firms specialize in the area of best practice and offer ready-made templates to standardize business process documentation. Sometimes a best practice is not applicable or is inappropriate for a particular organization's needs. A key strategic talent required when applying best practice to organizations is the ability to balance the unique qualities of an organization with the practices that it has in common with others.

  • #2
    Best practice is a form of program evaluation in public policy. It is the process of reviewing policy alternatives that have been effective in addressing similar issues in the past and could be applied to a current problem. Determining best practices to address a particular policy problem is a commonly used but little understood tool of analysis because the concept is vague and should therefore be examined with caution. Vagueness stems from the term "best" which is subjective. While some research and evidence must go into determining a practice the "best" it is more helpful to simply determine if a practice has worked exceptionally well and why. Instead of it being "the best", a practice might simply be a smart practice, a good practice, or a promising practice. This allows for a mix and match approach for making recommendations that might encompass pieces of many good practices.

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    • #3
      Bretschneider et al.[4] offers an alternate methodology for Best Practices research . Bretschneider's approach is much more technical than Bardach's, and explores issues of completeness and comparability. He addresses the fact that fully establishing whether a practice is truly a best practice would require assessment in all contexts, while in practice, only example cases are analyzed. Bretschneider also stresses the fact that in order for something to be considered a "best practice" it must be arrived at through a comparative process between methodologies. In order for a BPA (as defined by Bretschneider) to be valid, it must take into account all relevant approaches, since neglecting to do so would lead to inappropriate usage of the term "best." Comparing sample practices may yield a good practice, but may also be altogether unreliable, depending on how the sample was selected.

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      • #4
        The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) produces a document called The Clean Energy-Environment Guide to Action.[5] It is designed to share successful state best practices to determine what is most suitable for them to use in generating clean energy policies and programs. The guide includes 16 clean energy policies and programs that offer opportunities for states to save energy, improve air quality, lower greenhouse gas emission and increase economic development. An example of a successful best practice from the guide is building codes for energy efficiency. This practice is to use building energy codes to set requirements that establish a minimum level of energy efficiency standards for residential and commercial buildings. California Energy Code Title 24 is one "best practice" that is highlighted in this guide. The following points for energy code implementation is to educate and train key audiences, supply the right resources, and to provide budget and staff for the program.

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        • #5
          Quinn proposes avoiding asking or entertaining the question "Which is best?" and says that more nuanced questions related to conditions and contexts should be asked instead. He further suggests terms which "tend less toward overgeneralization" like better practices, effective practices, or promising practices.[28]

          Scott Ambler challenges the assumptions that there can be a recommended practice that is best in all cases. Instead, he offers an alternative view, "contextual practice", in which the notion of what is "best" will vary with the context.[29] Similarly, Cem Kaner and James Bach provide two scenarios to illustrate the contextual nature of "best practice" in their article.[30] In essence, such critiques are consistent with the contingency theory, which was developed during the 1950s and 1960s.

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          • #6
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