Over time, best practices become simply the way things should be done. They become ordinary. Best practices are not competitive. Everyone claims to follow them. The use of the term “best practices” no longer adds value or conveys meaning. Proposing to follow the best practices is certainly not a differentiator.
However, best practices are a good starting point — if you go beyond them. The more your proposal is better than the “best” practices, the more competitive it will be.
Here are some ideas to inspire you to go further. Take the best practices and:
- Improve the reliability, performance, efficiency, responsiveness, accuracy, accountability, etc. Whatever the best practices say you should do, do that plus something else to make your approach better.
- Remove defects. The best practices are designed to help you avoid defects. You can do better. You can do a better job of fixing them on the back end, preventing them on the front end, or even designing them away entirely. While the best practices minimize defects, you can aim to eliminate them entirely.
- Reduce friction. There are always inefficiencies, extra steps, unnecessary effort, challenges to overcome, limitations, and other things that get in the way and slow things down. They may not show up as defects or prevent delivery, but they are annoying. Often it is friction that wears away at the relationship between customers and vendors. Can you identify it? Can you eliminate it? Can you turn it into better results? Can you turn it into a better customer experience?
- Prove your claims. Best practices are typically claimed. If you really want to be compelling, prove your claims. Prove your practices are the best. Prove they get results. Prove that you follow them. Prove that you continuously improve them. Claims are usually ignored, but proof is compelling.
- Use better staff. Whatever staff your competitors have, provide better. But you have to prove they are better. That is not easy. Start by defining what “better” means. Most people rely on qualifications. But what customers really want are results.
- Reengineer. Best practices get stale. Maybe it’s time to drop them and reengineer something better. Explain the problems with the ordinary way of doing things. Then show that you’ve eliminated those problems with a better approach.
- Tailor. The best practices tend to be generic. One way to improve them is to tailor them for the customer’s specific environment and needs. A purpose-built solution is often better than just doing the same thing everyone else does.
- Introduce better performance measurement. Even if you do the same things, you are more credible if you measure your performance. Continuous improvement backed by analytics that come from performance measurement is far more credible than unsubstantiated claims of “continuous improvement.” RFP compliance is more credible when backed by performance measures than if it simply claimed. The challenge to performance measurement is to make it unobtrusive, or better yet automatic.
- Use better tools. If your tools are better, then make sure the customer knows it. Make sure they know what the impact of your better tools will be.
- Technology refresh. “Cutting edge” technology is stale five years later. Any project that hasn’t been continuously refreshed is likely running on stale technology. But don’t just offer new technology for technology’s sake. Offer new technology that will have an impact. Better yet, solve the problem of irregular technology refresh to prevent it from being a problem in the future.
Get full credit for what you are already doing. Most contractors are already doing things that add value. They do them so routinely they forget to mention them. Make sure you are getting credit for all the ways you’ve improved on the “best” practices in your day-to-day operations.