Best practices in supply chain come and go. In their publication “Network and Operations Planning for Telecommunications: Getting the Edge in the Network Expansion Boom” Cook & Hutchinson (2012) from Accenture pointed out that within the telecommunication industry best practice of yesterday— responding to the demands of existing customers and expanding capacity as needed— is a recipe for failure in today’s telecommunication industry. This comment is in line with Soliman & Edmond statement that supply chain best practice is transitory, and also is determined by constant twists and turns within the industry. Given the above, it is evidently conclusive that within the context of supply chain practices there are at least 2 categories of practices: “Redundant Practices” and “Best Practices”. A closer consideration of these 2 categories of practices and their relationships leads us to yet another conclusion: that there is a channel of transition, linking these 2 practices from best to redundant. Further research has led to the finding of 2 more practices that serve as links between best and redundant practices— “Common Practices” and “Leading Practices”. I posit that these 4 categories are hierarchical in the following sequence, ranging from highest to lowest: Best, Leading, Common, and Redundant Practices. Redundant practices as the name denotes are redundant, no longer practiced by majority of organisations within an industry or at least no longer practiced by the best in class organisations within a given industry and are considered outdated from a specific industry perspective. Redundant practices are proven to be, or at least, considered as counter-competitive, unproductive and/or infinitesimally productive. The above conclusion is exemplified by Cook & Hutchinson (2012) statement that “Yesterday’s best practice guarantees failure today”.
However, for a practice to become redundant, it must have in the past been considered as either best, leading or common practice. Therefore, Redundant practices can be defined as those practices past or present that are no longer proven to competitively add value either to an organisation, its products, services or image and/or have been proven to be counter-competitive, unproductive, or infinitesimally productive. Common practices refer to those practices within an industry considered common practice in the value creation process or chain. Common practices are widespread within and across industries and do not generally guarantee competitive advantage or order-winning. Common practice, in the past might have been considered as best or leading practice, however, as competition intensify, market dynamics transform, and social demographics change, common practice may have transformed from best to leading, then to common practice as it becomes a necessity in the value creation process or chain. The categories that these practices are assigned to are constantly affected by industry dynamics and trends. To exemplify this, in the past, during the 1970s the early days of the emergence of Enterprise Resource Planning systems, the implementation and use of ERP was considered best practice. Walmart’s success in those early days was attributed to its IT focused approach in gaining competitiveness (Soliman & Edmond, 2015). Today, the uses of Enterprise Resource Planning systems are generally considered a common practice in most industries. To reach and maintain competitiveness, organisations must transcend above common practices. However, common practices are not to be pushed aside as they are part of the minimum operating requirements within and across industries. By definition, as already stated above, common practice can be referred to as those practices required within or across industries in the value creation process or chain. Common practice rarely become redundant.
There are however, practices that have consistently been proven to achieve higher result within an industry, these practices are categorised as “Leading” practice, however Business Dictionary argues that this definition is more suited for best practice, but in this article I beg to differ. Generally, many tend to confuse leading practice with best practice. Six Sigma, Lean Methodology, and Integrated Business Planning are practices categorised as leading practices. In today’s highly competitive business environment, disruption, and technology boom, best practices are not too easy to identify. Many practices considered as best practices can arguably be classified as leading practices. Because of the ever increasing speed of change, by the time practices are widely identified as best practices they become leading practices. So what is best practice? How can it be defined? Put simply: best is best. Practices that are unequalled by comparison. Best practice is here defined as practices within an organisation’s (operating industry) and its (cross-functional industry) proven to have repeated achieved outstanding results when compared with that of the competition. How does an organisation achieve best practice? What is Operating industry? What is Cross Functional industry.