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Do you "eat your own dog food?"

Feb 12

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Thursday, February 12, 2009 10:04 PM  RssIcon

Does your company use the very same product it creates?  If not, uh...... WHY THE HECK NOT?!  Read on for food for thought!

Dog Food

Do you use the "thing" your company produces?  If you do, FANTASTIC!  Congratulations!  You're either your own worst, or your own best customer!  Either way, you're probably learning boat loads of valuable information first hand!  If you're not, the natural question is, WHY NOT?  And I would be VERY surprised if your potential sales opportunities aren't asking the same thing! 

If you aren't, are you VERY close with your customers?  Do you cozzy up to them so they are as close as employees and can give you honest and intimate feedback?  That could happen and is fantastic if you have customers like that!  Kudos to you!

Eating your own dogfood is a fantastic way to ensure what you are delivering to your paying customers is indeed worth the hard earned money they're paying you!  Another, more politically correct way to phrase this is "to drink your own champagne."

I know of a friend (PH) who worked for a company that didn't eat their own dogfood.    The reason?  The product was too complicated to configure.  Too difficult to shoehorn into their small organziation.  hhhmmm Wasn't that the target market?  My friend told me they tried to shoehorn it into their process before but was very difficult to configure, and expensive in time and resources as well.  They abandoned it.  Doesn't that point to speak volumes?  You'd think that would have raised some red flags?!

Let me back up a few years.  Back in the early 90s, Microsoft created Exchange, their flagship email server program.  It's a big honking beast of a product, real barn-buster of email functionality, or so their sales people would have you believe!  It could send your email AND defrag your HD!  Ok that last one's a bit of an exaggeration. :> Well, after a few years of selling Exchange, what do you think the media did when they found out Microsoft was using an email server that WAS NOT Exchange, but their own very little known UNIX variant called XENIX (yes, MS was doing UNIX before Linux)????  Yup, as you can expect they had a field day with that!  That's where I first heard about this term actually (I was a coop with MS at the time :>).

XENIX at Microsoft

Last year a friend of mine got a job at Research In Motion (RIM), you know the people who make the CrackBe ......uh.... BlackBerry (MP :>).  Just as she was starting her boss asked her what kind of BB she wanted?!  hhhmmm Interesting, ok, that's not a stretch, you might expect RIM to have their developers using their own product eh?  But she's not in R&D/Development!  She's in another very highly technical position and uses the device as a tool to help make her more efficient.  hhhhmmmm sounds like a built in commercial doesn't it?  Seems like a no brainer to me!

Today I read on Coding Horror, an article about the ultimate dogfooding example, the company makes table saw guards(SawStop).  At close to $4Gs, yes it's VERY expensive, but what is the cost of a finger?  Have you looked at your insurance policy and seen what they'll pay you if you lose a finger on the job?  Anyways, back to dog fooding, the prez of the company apprently has gone on TV where he uses HIS FINGER TO SHOW IT WORKS!!!!!  Now THAT'S dog fooding your own product!  I'm sure sales started shooting through the roof after that show aired!  I'm also pretty sure they could have a market for programmer's trying to become wood workers!

ALL this to say, if you're dogfooding our own product, GOOD FOR YOU!  I'm sure you're seeing the special benefits daily, if not hourly!  If you aren't, you really should be second guessing that decision and finding a way to try using your product internally.  If you're not, then you should be cozying up to a customer or two to get them to act as your special references!  That's getting the same thing done just in a creative way. 

Good luck and keep coding!  (yes, I'm still trying to find a fancy "end of blog" catch phrase)



Coding Horror: The Ultimate Dogfodding Story

XENIX -- Microsoft Short-lived Love Affair with Unix

Microsoft TechNet: Microsoft's Migration to Microsoft Exchange Server - The Evolution of Messaging within Microsoft Corporation



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