Really great chefs always taste the food they prepare before serving the meal to their customers. They are constantly refining their recipes and don’t go on faith that the exact same combination of ingredients will always yield the same results. In some cases, the flavors from a known recipe will vary given the freshness of the produce or spices involved.
This same analogy translates into a phrase that software companies are using more and more, “eating your own dog food.” This means if the software company building the product does not try their own product, then why would they expect customers to use it?
In the case of chefs cooking food for their customers, this makes sense, for software companies that create products that could be used to address a need for the company itself, this makes a lot of sense.
Luckily for us, the employees at Bloomfire create communities to share knowledge across various use cases, such as supporting our customers, sharing knowledge with new employees in marketing and development, and to share ideas on what we can do to make the product better.
As a product manager, this data is invaluable. Of course, we can rely on customers to give us some of that feedback, but in many cases it comes down to the questions we ask them that will hopefully trigger their memory of the experience of using your product in a particular situation. When I, or one of my fellow colleagues at Bloomfire experiences a challenge with using the product, many times we understand first hand how painful the experience was, or how given a certain personality type, understand why sharing knowledge is easy or hard.
While not always tasty, eating your own dog food can teach us a lot of things about making the product better.