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Best Practices Catalog

The beginnings of a catalog of best practices.

Foundational BPs

Independent overall product functions: All else being equal, the better of two products will be that designed so that its overall functions do not interact and are not interdependent, co-dependent, or otherwise coupled.

Satisfy the customer: Proactively seek out quantifiable ways to satisfy your direct customers

Keep it simple: All else being equal, the simpler of two products is the better product.

Balanced designs: A good design is one that balances all design factors within the context of its intended operating environment

Parallelize design of product and manufacturing processes: One can get a significant head start on manufacturing by letting manufacturing engineers participate in product development, thus shortening lead time.

Universal commitment: For any project, especially projects involving internal change, there must be universal commitment by all levels of a company, from front-line workers to the CEO.

Keep documentation current: Documentation is useless if it is not current. Schedule time regularly to maintain documentation; prefer electronic to hardcopy distribution to lower incidence of obsolete versions of documentation being used.

Quantify problems before devising solutions: Many problems are improperly solved because of naive or superficial understanding. Ensure the nature, extent, and root causes of problems are understood before searching for a solution.

Teams should include diverse expertise and all stakeholders on equal footing: The easiest way to think outside the box is to structure a team to contain many experts who are not experts in the particular problem domain. This notwithstanding, however, all stakeholders in a project must be represented on the team. Do not resist changing team composition to include new stakeholders. Make sure all team members are equal partners to facilitate concurrent design.

Understand your client as well as your client's requirements: What your client wants depends on your client's frame of mind, history, corporate culture, etc. In order to appreciate why your client has come to you, you need to understand the client and not just what the client says he wants.

Improve everything continuously: By continuously improving all aspects of an enterprise, one (a) helps foster a corporate culture to always seek out better solutions, (b) to welcome change as an opportunity rather than shun it as a risk, and © to minimize the risk of change by distributing it over many small changes rather than few monolithic and highly disruptive ones.


Change state of matter for function delivery: In order to innovate within a product class, consider how a product can deliver the same overall function by using a state of matter different from that of an existing product.

Exchange functions between major components: Given two major interacting system components, a substantial overall performance improvement may be possible by exchanging some of the functions in one component with some of the the functions in the other.

Reason by analogy: It is possible to transfer a conventional solution from one context into an innovative solution in another context.

Information Technology

Customer preferences-history database: Identify key services or features of products offered and track customer preferences for those features. Use the database to tailor product to repeat customers. PM: high rate of repeat customers, high satisfaction of those customers.

Standardize records, access: Develop uniform record-keeping and access methods. PM: lessens paperwork, increases productivity, reduce labour costs, improved response time, lower costs.

Remove duplicate information, data, processes: Use computers to provide access to served data, thus keeping information only once. PM: less duplication, lower error rate due to use of old data, lower costs.

Minimize pre-service data-gathering: Before a service is started, reduce the information required from customers to the minimum required to begin service. PM: improved customer satisfaction, faster response time.

Minimize paper documents: Transfer all documentation to electronic form with intelligent searching capabilities. PM: lower operating costs, faster response time.

Make information available anywhere: Portable data access devices to free workers to get data where it is needed, not just when it is needed. PM: faster response time, fewer searches, lower costs, improved customer satisfaction.

Integrate product development tools: CAE, CAD, CAA, and CAM tools should be integrated to improve effectiveness, and lower the odds of problems in translating data between software packages.

Simulate to lower design/build/test iterations: Simulations are so accurate today that they can even substitute for physical tests at a fraction of the price of their “real” counterparts. Simulations should be regarded as virtual build/test phases and incorporated as such into the development process.



All manual labour is intensive exercise: Treat all labourers as atheletes, who require warming-up and cooling down periods, and physiological maintenance, to perform well.


Propagate proposed fixes in simulations: When changing a component of a system, propagate changes stepwise both forward and backward through the system to identify behavioural effects in other system components.

Standardize parts: Minimize variability in kinds of parts. This lowers product complexity, improves reliability, can positively affect inventory, simplify maintenance and training, etc.

Involve suppliers early in the development process: Suppliers are like manufacturing experts within your enterprise: they have invaluable knowledge for product design, and can get a head start on ensuring you will have the parts you need on schedule.


Plan for flexible shift work: By planning for flexibility in shift work, one can maintain morale while allowing for variable productivity; usually requires special compensation and cross-training.

Look for manpower scheduling solutions from other industries/sectors: Some manufacturing plants can benefit by implementing the staff scheduling systems from hospitals.

Recognize professional behaviour: Professional behaviour should be expected at all levels and should not be “rewarded” per se. However, it must be recognized, perhaps with a monetary bonus, or with a plaque or certificate, or lunch with the boss, etc. Without recognition, workers will come to believe that management does not care about professional behaviour and will tend not to exhibit it.

Special identify for special jobs: When implementing an important program, find a way to clearly identify the team; this provides them with recognition and broadcasts management's support. EG: special inspection teams might wear brightly coloured jackets; design team members might have a coloured band on their business cards. It is important that the distinction not be interpreted as a status or rank matter - that is why a simple colour-coding is useful.

Do not isolate injured workers from the rest of the company: The employer should keep injured workers involved in company activities, even if only on a social level, during their convalescence. Perhaps they can be given temporary employment in another part of the company. A manager should know the actual current status and physical/emotional state of any injured employee.

Use customer surveys to rank managers as well as workers: Although customers contact workers directly, workers are strongly influenced by management. So performance on customer surveys reflects on management as well as workers.

Maintain positive visibility for initiatives: Put up posters, announce progress regularly, have information sessions (also useful for gaining feedback), for any substantive initiative.

Establish baselines before implementing changes: Derives from quantify problems. The current state as quantified represents the baseline. All improvements should be gauged with respect to the baseline only.

Use external experts to conduct internal surveys and audits: Bring a new perspective to the table.

Integrate R&D, development, and process investments with an overall business strategy: Integration facilitates leveraging one kind of investment in other areas of the operation.

To Do


See Also


[SE99]. J.A. Siguaw and C.A. Enz. 1999. Best practices in information technology. Hotel and Restaurant Administration Quarterly pages 58-71.
[App98]. B. Appleton. 1998. Patterns for conducting process improvement. In Proc. 4th Annual Conf on Pattern Languages of Program Design (link)
research/best_practices_catalog.txt · Last modified: 2020.03.12 13:30 (external edit)