Best practices are a common set of guidelines compiled to codify the most prudent course of action. They can be applied across industries or for specific processes within companies and any sort of task such as distribution, customer service, or social media marketing. You can think of best practices as recommendations developed by regulatory agencies and companies. Typically, compliance is voluntary. Instead, best practices are used to create benchmarks for performance. Their purpose is to allow comparison of metrics across industries and over time. You can look for best practices within your industry in the Government of Canada’s Financial Performance Data. Understanding best practices in your industry can give you insight into the best methods to accomplish certain tasks. For example, public companies in Canada follow Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) when filing public reports. Since companies follow a common standard of accounting, it makes it possible for regulators and investors to trust and easily understand a company’s financial reporting. Regulatory boards use best practices as benchmarks, and companies create them to detail the most efficient way to complete a task. Best practices are a form of institutional knowledge that can be taught to new employees. You can create your own by organizing various processes in a step-by-step format. For some companies, their best practices are what creates a competitive advantage, and they may choose to keep them confidential. An example is Zappos’ customer service program, which has won awards and customer loyalty. Best practices are the ideal way to complete a task and can be created for your company’s specific processes or as common processes across industries. Industry-wide benchmarks are usually created by regulatory agencies and serve as common standards among companies within an industry.