Thursday, March 7, 2013

Artistic Standards

SOPs (or as we often call them nowadays “best practices”) get the usual bum rap but I like them as an educational tool. Standards and best practices are fine to the extent that they promote a safe and productive workplace without adversely affecting a sense of job security. For example “Always use camel case” is a good standard to improve productivity. “Keep your source code in three places” is a best practice that enhances safety.

Wielding standards like an axe over your employees’ heads will only create defensive animosity. I prefer to use them as search terms when I want to find a template or an example to share with somebody. For instance I might Google “best practices SQL maintenance” and see what it returns.

If your employees feel however that the purpose of your standards is to turn them into interchangeable cogs then at best they will only implement them halfheartedly and at worst they will spoof compliance. Make positive, non-corrosive best practices your standard operating procedure.