Skip to content Skip to footer

Forget ‘Best Practices’ – Focus on “Brilliant Basics”

For the past 30 years I’ve watched groups of very serious and truly brilliant Consultants talking eloquently to their Clients about HR ‘Best Practices’.

😎 “Best Practices out of the box”

🤓 “Implementing Best Practices”.

😲 “Adopting Best Practices”.

And I’ve observed some of their Clients go misty-eyed at this glorious notion – the holy grail surely. 

The appeal of best practice

It’s so attractive, isn’t it? – It doesn’t require us to think for ourselves.  All we need to do is follow the formula we’re being pitched and Abracadabra! – magic will happen.

But in the real world, the one I encountered in my first dozen or so HR Transformations & / or Digital HR Transformations – and hundreds since, I realised that ‘Best Practices’ can be a misleading phrase.

And this was brought home to me last week by one particular CHRO I’ve been talking to who has plenty of experience of ‘best practices’ in both large Enterprise and in Progressive mid-sized businesses.  We agreed that the notion of absolute best practise is more myth than substance.

“It’s better to go for The Brilliant Basics”, she said.

And as she said it, it seemed to make more sense, doesn’t it?  It’s so much more achievable – so much more tangible.

Whether one is in a large corporate full of complexity, or a progressive mid-sized business starting with way too much e-mail, excel, data in many places and a lack of consistent process, it’s the basics done well that will really count initially.  Best, maybe, one day, but brilliant basics to start with.

First do the Brilliant Basics well and then continuously improve in pursuit of ‘best’

Here’s what I’d add from my years of observing HR / HCM projects and transformations in 100s of programmes in search of ‘Best Practice’ holy grails.

Find your own Brilliant Basics in 4 steps:

Five Steps to your Brilliant Basics
  1. Either yourself or with a Partner you can trust, pull together workflows made as simple as humanly possible for each area you want to improve or transform.  Drive hard for consistency, accepting variation only from ‘the one way’ where there is demonstrable benefit to competitive advantage &/or Employment Brand
  2. Consider the nuances from the Candidate, On-boardee, Employee, Manager& Exec perspective….as well as the HR administrative standpoint, of course.  Get Empathetic – Put yourself in their shoes – ask them.  This is where one elements of your competitive Employment Brand sits and admirable culture can be reflected.
  3. Go back and make sure the workflow/s provide/s an easily followed experience as well as the admin automation & information output.  This will pay dividends when you ask the HR Team and especially Managers and Employees to join you with the change.
  4. Inspect and understand what comes ‘out of the box’ with your chosen technology.  How far can it automate?  What will you need to add with your own ‘content’? (Wording in automated notifications, e-mail alerts, terminology, Career site content and so forth).
  5. Don’t forget the output. Management Information Systems isn’t a fashionable phrase now but this is still what systems are (alongside process automation and collaboration).

Above all, keep it simple to start with (Maybe Phase 1) because…

And remember too…


James Bennett is Chief Revenue Officer for iXerv Global has worked in HR and HR systems technology for over three decades in various sectors.  He is based in the UK

Connect with James

iXerv is dedicated to supporting progressive businesses with leaders who are committed to their People as a path to achieve consolidation, transformation and growth. iXerv helps you create the best experience for your employees and the means to acquire, develop, manage and reward in the way that gives you competitive edge.

Subscribe to our newsletter
Copyright © 2024 Ixerv. All Rights Reserved.