Just what is so "best" about Best Practices?

Best Practices.

We’ve all heard the term. What exactly does it mean?

I’ve been taking crash courses in Salesforce.com, as we’re working to get it ramped up for C3.

When you have something that is as infinitely flexible as Salesforce, the concept of “Best Practices” becomes a big deal. You’re looking at a lot of roads that take many different forks. Eventually patterns start to develop that end up in favorable results and you hope those folks who find those patterns have the good sense to write it down. Bingo. Best Practice.

Salesforce Heretic is a very good blog devoted to all things Salesforce. I’ve learned quite a bit from it. Today, he takes the term “Best Practices” to task:

Looking at it from the angle of using what is arguably the most cutomizable on-demand CRM appliction, why do Best Practices seem so… static, fixed, rigid? And how can a practice be Best for everyone from a B2B org, B2C and even not-for-profits? Why should a company who’s been in business for 1, 2, 5, 50+ years change a successful way of doing business to fit a Best Practice?

I left a longish comment, which I’ve decided to repeat here because it’s something that I say all the time, knowing exactly what I think I mean, but I never thought about the words in themselves:

We’re currently configuring SFDC for our nonprofit, and even though I could probably set it up myself, we’re working with implementation partners because I want to learn Best Practices.

What does that mean? Well, given a company of our size and structure (small, nonprofit), our needs (integration with GetActive, volunteer management, basic inventory management, grant tracking, mailing list management, etc.) “Best Practices” to me are those successes and mistakes that someone else has already made and learned from so I don’t have to make and learn from them myself.

So “Best Practices” is unique to the situation that it is being applied. Where does it say that it has to be “best” for everyone? It’s “best” for people who have a similar common baseline. “Best Practice” for people with 10 fingers is to use a keyboard. For people with more or less than that, “Best Practice” is something completely different.

For your second question, see the answer to the first question. “Best Practice” is based on common assumptions. So assuming that your company is this size and this structure, and assuming that you use SFDC, best practice is… It doesn’t mean that it’s the best *period*, it means that it’s the best using the same baseline starting point.

Best Practice says that you apologize if you make an inappropriate body noise in public. Is that the best thing to do? No, the best thing is not to make the noise in the first place. But that wasn’t the question. 

So what do you think? Does the term “Best Practices” annoy you, or like me do you use it freely and intentionally thinking about it as anything but the literal meaning?

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