The Benefits of Eating Your Own Pet Food

March 12, 2010 CollabNet VersionOne

Many of us have come across companies trying to sell a product that they themselves don’t use, because unfortunately this is not uncommon.

It’s unsettling when companies don’t think enough of their own products to actually use them. I understand not all companies can use their own products within the business because of the nature of some products. But, by and large, many, if not most, can be integrated into the business. And should be when they can.

That was one of the things I really liked about CollabNet. We actually do use our own platform and tools, and in a variety of ways. Yes, we eat our own pet food, and that has many benefits:

  • You discover the strengths and weaknesses of your product
  • You are better able to help customers understand the product and why they should use it
  • As your needs grow, you build those solutions into the product, giving you much better empathetic understanding with the customers
  • Everyone benefits from the companies product, because everyone makes requests to improve its quality

The CollabNet platform has evolved greatly over the years, and we have used all iterations of it along the way. The CollabNet site resides on the platform, as do all of OCN projects, and all of our internal projects.

For instance, our group of community managers use a CollabNet TeamForge (CTF) project called community-management. Having this project allows us to share documents, use a wiki to share links and miscellaneous stuff, and have discussion areas we can use to help and advise one another, brainstorm, and discuss various topics of interest. Monitoring enables us to receive changes and discussions via email.

I set up a similar project for CollabNet bloggers. With 16 of us, and growing, it’s just a pain to email, attach documents, track changes to those docs, etc. through the mail program. This CTF project allows us to do that and more. If we want to set up trackers and project folders, we have that available to us as well.

In addition our web production team, marketing, sales, etc. all also use our platform similarly. And, of course, so does our engineering team. They use it for their development of CollabNet platform and tools.

Recently, with the acquisition of Danube, we’ll incorporate more Agile processes and scrum into our work flow. CTF was always Agile-ready, but now we’ll be using it more and learning scrum for our own business tasks. It’s exciting to have the product evolve in a way that is not only useful to our customers, but to us as well.

Eating your own pet food, or rather using your own products, adds empathic understanding to customer needs, but also adds a great amount of sincerity and enthusiasm, assuming you have a good product. When a company uses it’s own product or platform, that product is bound to improve because there is more invested in the quality of that product.

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