I am often asked what is best practice for {insert some topic}? In most cases, by far, the answer is that it depends!

If there were one best way of doing things that would usually be the default, obvious and well documented way, process, value, etc.

Let us examine what "best practice" really means: "A best practice is a method or technique that has consistently shown results superior to those achieved with other means, and that is used as a benchmark. In addition, a "best" practice can evolve to become better as improvements are discovered. Best practice is considered by some as a business buzzword, used to describe the process of developing and following a standard way of doing things that multiple organizations can use." from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Best_practice. I totally agree on the business buzzword. Especially within the IT industry.

Instead it makes sense to be talking about recommended practice in certain circumstances. So when someone asks for best practices I usually start by asking questions like:

  • What do you want to achieve?
  • What is your current practice?
  • What problems are your current practice causing? What do you think is the reason for that?
  • What other practices have you tried and what was the result?

But really the most important question is "What do you want to achieve?" Without this it is meaningless to provide anyone with any proper guidance. 

There are rarely one best practice! That is why there is still a need for people like consultants and not just online documentation. Because you need to ask the right questions and based on real life experiences provide the correct and applicable guidance. Often if someone can instantly tell a what best practice is you should be somewhat suspicious 😊