What Are Best Practices? (A Practical Guide with Examples)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published April 26, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

In every industry or field, companies and professionals can strive to increase efficiency and maximize the chance of success. Many do this by applying professional practices that other experts in the industry consider the most effective. Regardless of your industry or job title, learning about best practices and how to implement them can be a great way to advance in your career. In this article, we define what best practices are, examine how to develop them, and share some examples from particular fields.

What are best practices?

Knowing the answer to "What are best practices?" can help you understand how they enhance procedures and major activities within an organization. Best practices are sets of guidelines that professionals can use to direct procedures within a field or organization. These protocols and procedures typically relate to specific industries or situations and are essentially a guide or outline of instructions to follow. Government authorities, management, or regulatory authorities may implement or recommend best practices. They may also be a guideline set by particularly successful companies within an industry, or tips for efficiency shared among professionals in a specific occupation.

Best practices can help improve efficiency and reduce the probabilities for errors. Significant research goes into generating best practices, and leading experts often develop them within the profession or industry. They may also address a specific known risk. For example, safety best practices within the construction industry reduce the potential for accidents, while cleaning best practices within the food processing industry may prevent contamination.

How to develop best practices

For an established field or profession, you can often learn best practices through research or networking. If you work in a unique field or role, or want to develop best practices specific to a department or organization, the following steps may be helpful:

1. Research successful companies

Investigate multiple companies that have achieved success in the same or a similar industry and look for behaviours or processes that are common among them. You may also consider consulting with experienced professionals within your field. It's beneficial to be accurate in your research, examining different aspects of operations and gathering information from multiple sources.

2. Communicate your findings

After completing your research, share the information with the appropriate stakeholders. These can include team members, supervisors, and managers. Try to identify all affected individuals and communicate to them what best practices you plan to introduce, why they're important, and when you plan to implement them.

3. Use metrics you can monitor

It's beneficial to identify ways to measure the impact of your best practices. Look for key indicators you can track to assess the implementation. These indicators can detect changes in sales, manufacturing processes, and costs. By doing this, you can adjust the procedures and implement them again.

4. Use change management techniques

When implementing new practices and procedures, you may encounter resistance from employees or other stakeholders. It's beneficial to have a strategy to address and work through any concerns or issues. There are several techniques you can apply to manage change, which can involve offering incentives, focusing on transparency, and providing training.

5. Adjust the new practices

The best practices you identified through research may not all work well for the business. Some practices that proved very successful for a similar business may require adjustments to fit the organization. As you implement the new best practices, it's beneficial to look for opportunities to make changes during the process.

6. Engage all stakeholders

You can involve the entire organization in implementing the new best practices. Sometimes, it may even be wise to involve outside stakeholders, such as customers, by informing them about the new processes. By engaging everyone, you can help ensure a better chance of an effective transition by eliminating confusion and reducing the potential for resistance.

7. Request and respond to feedback

After implementing the new procedures, it's beneficial to gather feedback and know what colleagues and subordinates want to say about these practices. You can also survey or request comments from employees and customers to learn about how they perceive the changes. This can help you determine whether the newly implemented best practices have made a difference and whether the overall effect is positive.

8. Strive for continuous improvement

Continue to evaluate and look for opportunities to improve the best practices. Technological advances or other shifts may provide new opportunities or render some practices obsolete. Planning to reevaluate best practices periodically can help make sure they stay up to date.

Related: How to Get Customer Feedback to Improve Your Business

Resources for developing best practices

When developing best practices, there are resources you can use to help, such as your own professional network. Peers in your profession may want to discuss and share best practices. Professional organizations may offer networking opportunities or produce informational materials about best practices. You may even find assistance at work within your team or colleagues. If you're working for a larger company with multiple locations, it can be worthwhile to arrange a meeting to exchange ideas and experiences.

Related: Guidelines on How to Network

Examples of best practices

You can apply best practices in a wide variety of industries, such as construction, business development, and sales. Some industries may have more formal and widely used sets of best practices. Here are some examples of best practices in specific fields:

Project management

Best practices in this field may involve concluding each project with a debriefing meeting. It can also include consistently seeking and recording feedback. Project management best practices include:

  • Maintaining constant communication with stakeholders

  • Assigning a team to mitigate and respond to risks

  • Developing a brief for each project

  • Ensuring that project plans include sufficient details

  • Fully documenting all steps of the process of project completion

Health care

Best practices in this field may involve actively listening to patients' concerns and expectations. It can also include following up with patients to ensure their comfort. Health care best practices include:

  • Making patient care the top priority

  • Teaching patients about healthy routines and practices

  • Making patients feel comfortable by maintaining a rapport through actions like smiling and addressing them by name

Education

Best practices in this field may involve seeking out and consulting resources like existing lesson plans to improve teaching techniques. It can also include behaving in a manner and maintaining an appearance appropriate to serve as a role model to students. Education best practices can include:

  • Ensuring lesson continuity by preparing materials so that one teaching activity can lead directly into the next

  • Engaging students by encouraging them to participate in classroom activities that help develop various skills, such as collaboration and communication

  • Focusing on the primary goal when developing lesson plans

Customer service management

Best practices in this field may involve using social media platforms to interact with potential or existing customers. It can also include creating customized experiences for repeat or regular customers. Best practices in customer service management include:

  • Empowering employees to build their careers by offering opportunities for advancement

  • Motivating employees to deliver high-quality customer service by providing performance incentives and encouraging friendly competition between employees

  • Being transparent when marketing or advertising the products or services to ensure that customer expectations align with the quality of the offerings

  • Teaching employees the importance of customer first impressions

  • Using customer feedback to improve service quality and develop training materials

Related: Tips on How to Provide Good Customer Service (With Benefits)

Sales and marketing

Best practices in this field may involve using constructive feedback from both inside and outside the department to inform ongoing performance development and improvement. It can also include encouraging collaboration between the sales team and the marketing team. Sales and marketing best practices include:

  • Identifying customer personas with details, such as demographic category, life stage, and priorities

  • Investigating and defining motivating factors that can lead a potential customer to purchase the product or service you're selling

  • Assigning tasks to specific team members to ensure accountability

Related: Promoting Collaboration in the Workplace: All You Need to Know

Manufacturing

Best practices in this field may involve prioritizing compliance with environmental guidelines. It can also include implementing proactive safety protocols. Some best practices in manufacturing include:

  • Using a lean manufacturing model to eliminate inefficiencies

  • Using automation wherever possible to save on labour costs and eliminate the risk of human error

  • Implementing an asset maintenance program to address potential issues with equipments before they become more serious or costly

Bookkeeping

Best practices in this field may involve reviewing financial reports regularly. It can also include separating personal accounts or transactions from business financial instruments or operations. Some best practices for bookkeeping are:

  • Maintaining detailed accounts payable and receivable records

  • Establishing firm controls to prevent employee error or fraud

  • Involving a professional accountant in the company's tax planning

  • Backing up all files and using current financial software

Hospitality

Best practices in this field may involve soliciting feedback through guest surveys or reviews. It can also include aiming to exceed guest expectations while focusing on the guest experience. Hospitality best practices may include:

  • Addressing guest complaints or concerns

  • Creating a unique experience for guests and visitors

  • Maintaining a strong workplace culture to encourage enthusiasm in employees


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