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The Myth of “Best Practices” in Public Financial Management


March 10, 2011

Doug Hadden, VP Products

Where did the idea of best practices in public financial management come from? PFM experts agree that there are many good practices but few “best” practices. That’s because practice improvement, in the public sector, depends on the government context. Many so-called best practices, such as full accrual accounting, have limited incremental benefit to most governments. To many, the cost to train and implement accrual accounting, exceeds any benefit. It’s high time to break some of the myths of “best practices”. (I hope to do that in blog posts over the course of the next month.)

Private Sector and “Best Practices”






enterprise software and private sector

“Best practices” has become consultant-speak and justification for acquiring leading ERP software. I can’t help but wonder whether this is perpetrated because when one only has a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.






enterprise software and government

When companies whose software was originally designed for the private sector encounter government requirements, invariably, a theme arises: “government should be run like a business.” (Notwithstanding completely different accounting environments and the need for rich budget controls.) And, the private sector has “best practices” that are so “BEST” that these should be adopted by government.

In other words, when encountered with a screw – bang it in as hard as you can. Make sure that it can’t be removed without any damage. Call it a best practice. Insist that it “should” work, even when it isn’t working.

Government and Best Practices





GRP and government

We’ve talked a lot about how Government Resource Planning (GRP) is unique. For government. Not a variation of ERP.

As we navigate through the world of government financial practices in future blog posts, there is one thing to keep in mind: the public sector is always changing. Modernizing and reforming.

So, one needs to be able to remove the screw and insert a different one at the right time.

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Doug Hadden

Doug Hadden

Executive Vice President, Innovation at FreeBalance
Doug is responsible for identifying new global markets, new technologies and trends, and new and enhanced internal processes. Doug leads a cross-functional international team that is responsible for developing product prototypes and innovative go-to-market strategies.

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