Monday, August 20, 2007


Enterprise Architecture: So, exactly what is a best practice?

Have you noticed the ability for non-technical IT executives to use the word best practice as part of their vocabulary...

At work, I refuse to use this phrase and instead prefer to say practical considerations so as to avoid the sufficiently abused buzzword status that best practices brings to most competent individuals. Have you ever noticed that anyone within the walls of an enterprise can call anything a best practice without doing the research to demonstrate it?

While we fall in love with best practices such as CMMi, comprehensive documentation, non-technical management who call themselves leaders, perception is reality and other forms of substituting process for competence we still haven't figured out how to invent an easy way to weed out good practices from the bad ones. Let's be honest, the phrase best practice tends to be a proxy for a decision that often times is arbitrary and/or political in nature that attempts to appear as being based on technically sound judgment.

Maybe, I got it all twisted and need to get with the program. We all know that the Management by Magazine crowd knows that a best practice has some research behind it. It could be research conducted by the vendors who are attempting to sell you proprietary closed source expensive enterprise applications or it could even originate by industry trade rags whose sole goal is to sell eyeballs (My son finds this word funny). If you are really into best practices then you can surely trust the industry analysts who advocate them. After all, they never have any conflicts of interest except in by whom they are getting paid.

The funny thing about best practices is that they should actually be practiced somewhere with demonstrable and more importantly successful results. I wonder if the enterprise is really one big petri dish with someone conducting experimental trials on willing participants.

Maybe I should exercise my right to remain silent the next time I hear the phrase and consider trusting the folks that abuse it. Maybe I should stop wanting to know why it works and simply do like my other industry peers by shedding personal responsibility for the problem spaces we labor and instead whatever I happened to make up on the fly, call it a best practice...

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