Best practice is something that is drummed into us as a young age; how to brush our teeth, wash our hands (recently relearned), make the bed, get dressed … but we tend to stray away from what best practice looks like as we grow, develop and increasingly experience pressure within our day to day lives. Brushing your teeth goes from two to one minute, “wetting our hands”, bed ‘covering’ and pulling a shirt over PJs as you log into zoom. And why’s that? Time.
Best Practice defined: commercial or professional procedures that are accepted or prescribed as being correct or most effective.
So in this ever evolving world that we live in, with its fast technology pace of growth, businesses need to be one step ahead of the game to survive. How can we re-embed in our teams the value and mindset of working through best practices?
Let’s first touch on why best practices are important in three easy steps: Reduce; Sustain; Deliver.
What does that mean?
Reduce anxiety over those audit inspections, enabling to meet the process and tools that are in place to deliver value to the business.
Sustain rhythm by working in a structured environment and data that guides your processes and tools, to embed values.
Deliver quality through following best practices from start to finish, no corner cutting that with a side course of technical waste.
As organisations we need to understand that short lived training sessions, deadend emails and team board reminders are just lucid reminders. After a while new learnings get tainted by old ones, emails go straight to the bin and team board reminders become part of the furniture.
Nowadays our teams are made up of individuals from all career backgrounds. And what we mean by this is that it’s not just as easy as embedding organisational values and best practices internally, but also looking out towards your external support; consultancies, freelancers, contractors and suppliers too. By only looking introspectively of issues in best practice is falling short and failing slowly.
So how do we embed best practice?
Through values. As organisations our best practices need to come from within the core of the business and branch out through our values. Rather than just showing an endless ‘best practice’ process “that’s in place because of policy” followed up with “this should have been done yesterday” to internal and external stakeholders, bypassing the point. It’s time to inspect and adapt.
Reduce anxiety over those audit inspections.
Take the time that you currently believe that you don’t have, because you spend them correcting bad practice, to look at what current processes and tools are in practice.
To kick start your business analysis of good practice start asking the following:
- What tools are we using and not?
- What processes are we following and not?
- When are we using processes and not?
- How has not following best practice processes and tools caused the business a loss of revenue?
Even spot checks with your users. Take a tool or process and ask, “when did you last use …?”, “Have you heard of….?” This is an easy hit.
Sustain rhythm by working in a structured environment.
Once you have identified where the best practice gaps are, you can then start to work with the users and stakeholders (internals and external) to target those that add value. “Best practices” can, and often do, arise from bad practice, and can also become a habit in times of panic, which then build up, and get stored away until a new “best practice” is invented.
Make sure that your users are involved in building the organisations best practice and understanding why there is a need for a firm foundation in order to maintain a sustainable pace when a storm hits without impacting quality.
You need to embed these as core values, this is what will keep your organisation grounded in a storm. And if there’s a chance of an individual steering off the path, you have a tribe to bring them back to the value of the best practice that they have built. For example;
Your manager asks that the automation rules are deployed today as there’s an unexpected upload tomorrow from the customer. Although you’re confident that nothing bad will happen as you talked it over with the test manager and have done that in the past, you haven’t officially tested anything yet. You don’t want to cause trouble so do you:
• Accept this is ‘one last time’ that you deploy and fix later at worst case?
• Understand the situation but realign and re-embed the values of best practice with the core understanding of why?
When teams and organisations have a core belief and understand of ‘the why’ it’s easier to re-embed this in others when they are in the storm. It’s not an official discussion, but a reinforcement of we need to test properly because we know from previous data that this adds value and reduces waste in the long term…
Deliver quality through following best practices from start to finish.
So you’ve separated the wheat from the chaff, and you have your users and stakeholders (internals and external) not only brought into them but living and breathing the value of best practice. Now you can show how it’s done in practice.
Make the quality of outputs measurable. The following metrics are what high performing organisations measure themselves against.
- Lead Time for Change – design and feature validation to development of product
- Deployment Frequency – how often the team releases products
- Mean Time to Restore – how often do errors occur and time it takes to repair them
- Change Fail Percentage – the percentage of builds that result in a service failure
By installing these values from the best practice and continuing a sustained rhythm, users build muscle memory, a vital part of the way we live. The rhythm of habit in doing something until it becomes ingrained.
With your organisation starting to quantify your best practices, where do you need to inspect and adapt further? Or have you still got some waste not recognised?
You may be thinking … my organisation is too young for this… too developed for this… too disorganised for this… too busy for this, or my organisation will do it when we have time.
Well you will always be all those things and there will never be a right time to change. Be better than what your organisation is today. Inspect, adapt, fail fast and bring value.
Times ticking. What is one thing you can do today to get you closer to a better tomorrow?
Author Bio: Helen Garcia
As a project practitioner with 10+ years of experience across a number of industries and sectors, reaching from rail, simulation, cloud platforms and pharmaceuticals, I have a deep understanding of project methodologies. I am passionate about delivering change, striving to serve others by enabling recognition, inspection and adaptation as a team to drive organisational change. I strongly believe in guiding others and in doing so this motivates me. My goal is to enable households and businesses to adopt an agile mindset, not through purists approaches but in reflection of what we have learnt and how we can use this to continuously evolve into better versions of ourselves, our teams and our organisations.