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Project Management Software Deployment and Dogfooding

On the face of it, making meals for canine companions sounds like a relatively small market. Sure, there are many dogs and dog-lovers, but dog food isn’t as big a sector as construction, automotive, energy and so on. But then, what we’re really talking about here is not dog food, but ‘dogfooding’. This term refers to the use companies – especially those in the IT sector – make themselves of the products and services they sell to others. The concept is that if an enterprise expects customers to buy its offering and adhere to its recommendations, the enterprise itself should also use its own offering and abide by its own recommendations.

What Started It All

The origins of the term ‘dogfooding’ are a little hazy. One of the more colorful stories is of the president of Kal Kan Pet Food, who reputedly ate a can of the company’s dog food at shareholders’ meetings. How’s that for faith in the quality of your own product? Since then IT firms latched onto the concept of demonstrating how their own mission critical operations relied on the IT technology they were providing to others. Oracle’s decision to use Java as the base of Fusion middleware products and to acquire Sun Microsystems, Java’s inventor, ran along similar lines.

No Next-Bench Syndrome Here

While dogfooding can send a powerful marketing message to customers, there is a potential risk. If Oracle only put into its project management software what its own IT engineers required, it might rapidly alienate other non-IT customer segments. The next-bench syndrome happens when engineers developing a product ask their colleagues (at the next bench) what they want in terms of features and functionality. This may work for narrower market segments such as communication network test equipment. For broad sectors like project management tools however, it’s essential to be aware of user requirements across the whole market space.

Agile Yourself!

Other teams and project management technologies under the Oracle umbrella have demonstrated similar ‘eat your own dog food’ or ‘take your own medicine’ approaches. A case in point is Primavera. Prior to becoming part of Oracle, Primavera was already supplying its project management software to companies using agile methodologies in their own product development. The Primavera products were being designed to help customers achieve faster development cycles and market agility. Primavera’s performance increased significantly when it overhauled its operations to put the same levels of agility to work for its own development.

We’re All Project Managers Now

Project management dogfooding and the eradication of the next-bench syndrome should extend to functional departments such as logistics, finance, human resources, sales and marketing. Projects are no longer just for techies. Project management tools and techniques must become accessible to anybody expected to produce results for an organization. Companies need to be able to tap into all the bright ideas about how to achieve better performance, whatever their source. The future of dogfooding for project management applications is in broadening the internal user base. Oracle is encouraging this with solutions that integrate collaboration tools and intuitive project reporting, along with powerful project planning. Ultimately, every Oracle employee will be able to attest through personal experience to the benefits of using the company’s project management solutions.

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