Best Practices Still Matter, Especially In A Digital World

Arend Weil

Customers want it all – and they want it now. Thanks to companies such as Amazon and Apple, swift delivery of products and services and a simple, fast, and seamless buying experience is not just an expectation — it’s the rule for every industry.

We want immediate online access to our bank or credit card accounts to see a real-time report on our spending. We expect to have our newly purchased phone activated and set up as soon as we leave the store. We prefer to avoid answering the same questions over and over again when talking to customer service reps.

What customers really want from businesses is a radical overhaul of business processes. Easy-to-use mobile apps, 24x7x365 availability, real-time fulfillment, personalized interactions, and zero errors – customers refuse to tolerate anything less. In response, companies are going digital to deliver a different approach to work, automate processes, and accelerate release go-to-market cycles.

While there is much focus on digital transformation, there is one factor that is still important: best practices. Granted, the traditional notion of best practices is counter-intuitive to what the digital economy is all about. But this is where businesses have it all wrong. Best practices are actually about consistently serving the customer right, with flexibility, fluidity, and agility.

Best practices: Going beyond static to deliver simpler, optimized operations 

Over the past few years, best practices have received a bad rap. They’re viewed as a barrier to finding new opportunity and driving innovation. Decoupled from current digital capability and misaligned with available resources, tools, skills, and software, companies offer little to no exposure to best-practice training. As market requirements and technology change at increasing speed, best practices are left behind just as quickly. Unfortunately, this is a missed opportunity for businesses.

By leveraging the best practices of others to develop your business’ individual practices, you can achieve better results with less effort. Instead of spending too much time on basics and non-value adding tasks, you get a head start and avoid frustration. Also, it enables leaders to determine what the business needs, lower costs by seizing opportunities for best-practice reuse, and increase ROI through benchmarking.

Despite the advantages they offer, best practices are impossible to achieve unless the business is willing to allow them to evolve. As technology, markets, and customers change, best practices must remain relevant and provide the best experiences for the workforce and customers while optimizing the business.

Take your favorite sports team, for example. It’s no secret that the team captain carries the greatest responsibility for knowing the playbook inside and out. They tend to learn each strategy so intimately that they are able to execute the plays without thinking. For them, these practices are second nature, which enables them to move quickly and score. However, this mindset can also create a narrow view that causes them to miss out on unexpected opportunities. Not only can it lead to seemingly rookie mistakes, but it can make the entire game day more difficult than it needs to be. 

4 ways to put your best practices to work

Best practices are often just the beginning, and it’s up to the business to evolve those best practices to meet changes in technology, markets, and customer behavior and preferences. Here are four things you may not know that may be keeping your organization from making the best use of them:

  1. Demand instant availability. Instead of wasting time and resources with theoretical exercises, make sure the best practices you use match with available or achievable capabilities, tools, and resources. Apply ready-to-run systems, applications, and processes. Leverage the cloud and demand sample data wherever possible, so that your employees can quickly get up to speed and focus on the real differentiators of your business.
  1. Eliminate process gaps and redesign whenever needed. The agility, speed, and quality your customers expect require integrated practices and data management without redundancy. To achieve this, start with the desired outcome, then review the best practice, and make it your practice. If adjustments are required, focus practices that deliver real value and differentiate strategic areas of the process.
  1. Use best practices to master your digital transformation. Learn from best-in-class companies to master digital transformation and make sure you capitalize on related opportunities. Take a look at the best practices of other industries and question your common view and status. Most important, ensure your core business processes are not a hurdle, but a catalyst throughout this journey.
  1. Innovate continuously. Never limit the best practice to what is comfortable. Evolve over and over again to meet customer and workforce needs and seize the opportunity of new technology.

Market dynamics and new technology require constant revision of your own best practices. Find out how you can use hands-on best practices to benchmark and optimize processes and operations continuously. Visit go.sap.com/services/business-transformation.html

Discover how digitalization can turn your business into a live business. Visit discover.sap.com/hana.


Arend Weil

About Arend Weil

Arend Weil manages the SAP global service portfolio for R&D, engineering, sustainability, and asset management. He is focused on creating service offerings and solutions that increase delivery speed through reuse and repeatability. Latest initiatives include for example cloud based model companies, which combine SAP software innovations with real best practices. Over the course of 20 years, his passion for IT has taken him from the days of C-64 to the Internet of Things.