A Best Practices guide is a book of guidelines on a particular topic, generally published by professionals in the field. There are guidelines on number of topics. In the environmental field, common best practices guides include flexing your power in energy savings, green building and design, or sustainable energy. Local governmental agencies typical pubish recommended guidelines specific to that geographic area, or professional organizations specializing in that field of study.
They can be nothing more than “How To” book, but in a strict professional context, they can become something quite different. Professionals need to know what the “common wisdom” is in a field. That not only helps them get to a solution quickly, but it also helps them to work according to local laws and codes.
Very importantly, it provides professionals a defense in court, because they can say, effectively, “I was just doing what all the other professionals were.” So if you get brain surgery that leaves you unable to do anything but watch Star Trek reruns, and you could have been saved by the new miracle technique in Switzerland, you won’t win a suit against your doctor, because he (and his lawyer) will just shrug it off following best practices. And in this case they’ll be right.
So in some strict sense for professionals, Best Practices describe what a profession, and society as a whole, feel is appropriate, reasonable behavior.
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