Friday, August 05, 2005

Best Practices

There have been numerous suggestions for implementing “best practices” at the State almost as if it were some kind of Holy Grail. So what is a “best practice”?

Among the more common definitions that impact IT are some of the following:

* The processes, practices, and systems identified in public and private organizations that performed exceptionally well and are widely recognized as improving an organization's performance and efficiency in specific areas. Successfully identifying and applying best practices can reduce business expenses and improve organizational efficiency.

* Processes and activities that have been shown in practice to be the most effective.

* The procedures and policies that allow a business to outperform all other in a particular business process.

* Methodologies that provide beneficial results. Some best practices are general in nature and can be applied to almost every industry; other best practices are industry-specific.

The above definitions provide a few common threads that ought not to be overlooked:

1) Best practices are a reflection of defined and capable business processes.

2) Best practices are “best” in the context of the organization and in some cases may be highly specific to a business unit.

3) Best practices are results oriented and are designed to enable practical results.

As we review new “tools” to solve IT governance issues such as Portfolio Management it would seem evident that we need to focus heavily on defining our business processes and our related best practices for the State of Utah.

Business process needs to drive tool selection. A tool by itself cannot guarantee adoption or implementation of best practices in any IT area of endeavor. As someone once observed "... a fool with a tool is still a fool."

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