I use the RAW converter to set WB, color, and tonality, correct lens distortion, vignetting, and CA, and occasionally crop in cases where there is something in-frame that I will never want in a print, like a finger in front of the lens, or the lens hood getting knocked out of position to cause vignetting). Sharpening and noise reduction are much better done with other tools, like PK Sharpener, Focus Magic, Neat Image, and Noise Ninja. Good noise reduction will reduce noise without softening edges. Do noise reduction first, then sharpen.
Agreed. I generally follow this formula--aside from cropping. I never crop in the converter. Mostly because I can do it with more control in PS. Sharpening and noise reduction are better done in PS (or with you're desired plug-in/program). If noise is an issue then reduce it first then sharpen. But really question whether you truly need to reduce noise.
In good lighting conditions I wouldn't bother because you do lose detail and then there is the possibility of introducing a watercolor effect into the image.
Aside from that, there really isn't a particular step by step order to take. You could just as easily adjust the contrast then the color temp and then saturation. The raw converter should be seen as a way of tweaking the image. So you can adjust to you're liking. Increase this setting then that one and if it doesn't suit your taste adjust the settings again. That's the good part about non-destructive. Critical steps come when you've opened you're image in PS. Then you should mind what you do first