We’ve been eating our own dog food here at Bizimply HQ over the last few months, and for the most part, we like how it tastes!
Now don’t worry, we haven’t actually been digging into tins of Pedigree Chum or Purina, I’m talking about the Software Engineering practice of improving a product by getting the team to use it every day as part of their job.
“Dogfooding”, as we call it, allows software development teams to get a real feel for their product from a customer’s point of view and encourages them to hone in on improvements that may be minor, but would make a real difference to a user’s day to day experience.
Here Is How You Can Eat Your Own Dogfood?
Now this idea doesn’t have to be limited to software teams, you could start to use it in your business today. You probably already run some occasional spot checks on the quality of your offering. You might even use mystery shoppers to get richer feedback. Unfortunately, when you are in mystery shopper or spot-check mode, there are often things that you notice that you might ignore as a one-off issue or write off as a minor niggle. But if you eat your own dog food by, for example, having coffee in your café every day, you might start to notice that the milk jug is often empty and the benches that look so nice are actually not so comfortable to sit at after all.
Some other simple suggestions for “dogfooding” are to use the front door of your bar instead of arriving through the kitchen every day or to nominate one of your team to dress up and have dinner in your restaurant once a month. Even if you are only able to use a small part of your service or product, dogfooding can produce some valuable insights and ideas for improvements that you might never discover otherwise.
How We Eat Our Own Dogfood
Bizimply makes employee management software for the hospitality and retail industry so our product is not designed to be used in a software development business. However, with a bit of imagination and team cooperation, we were able to come up with some ways to integrate it into our daily routines.
Katie, our Operations Manager, created profiles for everyone in the Bizimply app and when somebody new starts, she adds them and sends them their Bizimply PIN number. Everyone in the office now clocks in every morning using the Timestation app on an iPad near the door, and they clock out again as they leave for home. We also clock in and out using the Break Tracking feature if we’re heading out for lunch.
We do not work to a set schedule, and we’re not hourly paid employees, but using our own system this way every day gives us insights to the product that may never surface through other user testing or feedback mechanisms.
For example, Gerard, our CEO, loves that he can now use the Bizimply web app on his iPhone to see who is in the office, but he realised that it was frustrating that he couldn’t easily see this information on the Timestation iPad app.
So we added the Information Sidebar feature to the app, as you can see above. Now managers and supervisors in bars, restaurants, and businesses like yours all over the world have quick access to the current time and attendance data for their staff.
Drink Your Own Champagne
We’ve developed a real taste for dog food and now that we have started to we can’t stop! We have seen the benefits of using it in our business and I think that if you try it, you will too. And if you are disgusted at the idea of calling your beautiful product “dog food”, well you can always do as the French and “drink your own champagne!”
Rodhán is Bizimply’s CTO and is always searching for ways to make our product even better for our loyal customers. Why not check out his Twitter page!