ROI analysis, cost of ownership, leading-edge firms, standards, best practices – these are a few of the common terms used to understand the growing realization in industry today that organizations must find a way to get real business results from their investments in technology or face dire consequences. Most companies are considering the use of best practices in their ongoing business environments as the link to drive this return.

To fully understand what this means and the effect this has on an organization, it is important to first define what is meant by a best practice because a number of definitions exist today. Research firm Gartner, Inc. considers the term to mean expertise or lessons learned and captured from a successful experience. This assumption drives the definition that a best practice communicates insight on the application of a process or the performance of a task. A best practice improves the outcome, diminishes the risk, increases the reliability or improves the understanding of the process or task. The American Management Association defines best practices as "systematic processes – the marriage of applied behavior and knowledge – that have been demonstrated and validated to yield a competitive advantage for organizations that employ them."

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