What is FIM Best Practice?

I was having a conversation with some other FIM Consultants recently about a particular site I’d been working on, and the attempts I’d made at enforcing FIM Best Practice. At this, one of them asked me, “Well, what do you consider to be FIM Best Practice?”.

My answer to him at the time was, “Well, in this particular site, Best Practice is whatever I say it is.”

Realising that my answer sounded a little abrupt, I hastened to clarify that it wasn’t so much that “What Ross says goes”, but that in lieu of formally published best practices from Microsoft, my understanding of what constitutes best practice in FIM is the culmination of my experience. As such, what I consider to be best practice may not align with what others believe.

When I talk about “culmination of my experience”, I’m really talking about several key things:
1) My own experience at deploying solutions as a FIM Consultant and learning the software inside-out
2) The “way of doing things” that was taught to me in the companies I’ve worked for, and by the people I’ve worked with
3) The knowledge that’s shared by the FIM community contributors through blogs, Technet Forum posts, conferences, etc.

I’ve seen several people try to clarify FIM Best Practices, such as Dave Lundell with his aptly book, FIM Best Practices and blog of the same name, or with my former colleague, Carol Wapshere’s recent series of posts on her blog. But, we have to remember that even these are based on their own experiences architecting and deploying FIM solutions, rather than a published Microsoft standard.

Another former colleague of mine, Bob Bradley, recently questioned whether FIM Best Practice was just a pipe dream, and proposed the notion that best practice could only be achieved through “community-conscious consultants collaborating to establish a peer-moderated knowledge base which is continually revisited, questioned and steadily improved over time.” I think that’s a noble notion, but perhaps not a practical one – and Bob even observes this this is his Utopia.

While Microsoft certainly encourages community contribution, even going so far as to only award its coveted MVP status to experts that make an active community contribution, organisations can sometimes be critical of consultants seen to be giving away too much intellectual property, or too much of their time away, for free. And many experts may have no interest in giving up their time contributing to the community.

When it comes to FIM, if you want to follow Best Practice, then you need to not only follow what’s the current trend is in the community, but also be willing to give back to it with your own practices – and to be prepared to have your “way of doing things” challenged by others working in the field, just as you should challenge theirs, and add new “ways of doing things” of your own into the community knowledge base.

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