Best practice

From Academic Kids

The term best practice generally refers to the best possible way of doing something; it is commonly used in the fields of business management, software engineering, and medicine, and increasingly in government.


Business management

In business management, a best practice is a generally accepted “best way of doing a thing”. A best practice is formulated after the study of specific business or organizational case studies to determine the most broadly effective and efficient means of organizing a system or performing a function. Best practices are disseminated through academic studies, popular business management books and through "comparison of notes" between corporations.

This term was popularized in professional and business management books starting in the late 1980s, most famously In Search Of Excellence, written by business management consultant Tom Peters. As of 2005, it remains a catchphrase among managers.

The idea behind best practices is to create a specification for what the best methodology is for any given situation. Then, one can compare job performance to these best practices and determine if either the job performance was lacking in quality somehow, or if the specification for best practices needs updating to include the job performance being graded.

The management movement of Best practices might imply that many if not most situations are repeatable and that if we can sufficiently distill a set of experiences, we can predict all or most of the possible scenarios and the way to best handle them.

Best practice may be a euphemism used in corporate management theory to avoid the negative image involved in "copying a competitor's business model". Businesses "adopt" best practices and by describing a particular innovation as a best practice, they avoid the need to attribute the innovation to a competitor. On the other hand, the advent of best practice may be due to an intellectual movement similar to open source to make business models non-proprietary and thus accelerate competition and innovation.

There is some momentum behind good practice as a preferred term, since it does not imply that no further innovation or revision is required.

Software engineering

In software engineering the term is used similarly to business management, meaning a set of guidelines or recommendations for doing something. An example include XML Best Practices, which is a set of guidelines for how to best set up and use XML documents.

Best practices for programming might include using a consistent coding style and documenting code as soon as it is written. Some processes have been developed to enforce these practices; extreme programming is one example.

In computer security, best practices can be described as "extreme paranoia"; for the maximum amount of security possible, users should use keys that are as large as possible and ensure that the physical location of their computer is completely secure, e.g. from TEMPEST attacks (see computer insecurity). It should be noted that such extreme practices are not required for excellent security, and that almost no one actually implements the theoretical best practices.


In medicine, best practice refers to a specific treatment for a disease that has been judged optimal after weighing the available outcome evidence. The term began to appear in medical, nursing, and hospital administration literature in the early 1990s, likely borrowed from business management as described above. In its early usage, it was often applied to admimistrative aspects of hospital and medical practice. However, by the late 1990s, "best practice" became particularly associated with the terminology of evidence-based medicine and is primarily used in that context currently. Several medical journals have adopted it as part of the titles.


In government there is special interest in best practice exchange, as unlike commercial enterprises there is no competitive incentive to keep best practices secret.

The most visible and active exchange efforts focus mostly on public management: e-democracy, e-government and related source code. Some, notably Canada's FCM InfraGuide, focus on very detailed procedures and operational processes required to manage sustainable municipal infrastructure.

One notable e-government best practices effort is run by Steven Clift at ( It has provided the UK local e-democracy project with some case studies ( on global projects and has even published best practices for highly political wikis ( Wikipedia itself is often a source of both good and bad examples.

See also


Academic Kids Menu

  • Art and Cultures
    • Art (
    • Architecture (
    • Cultures (
    • Music (
    • Musical Instruments (
  • Biographies (
  • Clipart (
  • Geography (
    • Countries of the World (
    • Maps (
    • Flags (
    • Continents (
  • History (
    • Ancient Civilizations (
    • Industrial Revolution (
    • Middle Ages (
    • Prehistory (
    • Renaissance (
    • Timelines (
    • United States (
    • Wars (
    • World History (
  • Human Body (
  • Mathematics (
  • Reference (
  • Science (
    • Animals (
    • Aviation (
    • Dinosaurs (
    • Earth (
    • Inventions (
    • Physical Science (
    • Plants (
    • Scientists (
  • Social Studies (
    • Anthropology (
    • Economics (
    • Government (
    • Religion (
    • Holidays (
  • Space and Astronomy
    • Solar System (
    • Planets (
  • Sports (
  • Timelines (
  • Weather (
  • US States (


  • Home Page (
  • Contact Us (

  • Clip Art (
Personal tools