A best practice is an operationally described guideline for doing something well.
It is recognized that the current literature in design can be thought of as a distillation of best design practices identified by researchers over many decades of work. These best practices can often be specified with pattern languages, a technique first developed by the architect Alexander. A pattern language is a interrelated set of informally defined problem-solving techniques phrased so as to be applicable in a roughly general setting. The neutrality allows patterns to be lifted from one application domain into another. Patterns therefore provide the means to share best practices among different design teams, groups, organizations, and industries.
Patterns are analogous to, though less rigorous than, problem-solving methods (PSMs) as studied in artificial intelligence. One might consider applying the formalism of PSMs to (attempt to) formalize pattern languages.
At one time, I had funding to study the use of patterns for best practices in automotive engineering, but that project is finished.
There is virtually no scientific research going on now on best practices as an design engineering phenomenon. What little literature does exist comes from manufacturing and management.
According to the U.S. Best Manufacturing Practices Center of Excellence,
“A best practice is a process, technique, or innovative use of equipment or resources that has a proven record of success in providing significant improvement in cost, schedule, quality, performance, safety, environment, or other measurable factors which impact the health of an organization.”
This is the working definition of a best practice for this project.
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