There’s no better way to show commitment than eating one’s own dog food, or – as some of my French colleagues would call it – drinking one’s own champagne. I can imagine why that Ford plant manager in Michigan recently announced that only Ford- or subsidiary-built vehicles are allowed to park on the plant premises: it must be discouraging to see the place swarmed every day by Daihatsu’s, Suzuki’s and Toyota’s. If even the creators themselves don’t use their own products, why would customers even consider buying?
In IT, the slogan is probably even more true. And it doesn’t only pertain to software manufacturers (we can safely assume that Microsoft is not using Firefox too much in their offices, nor that SAP uses Oracle Financials for their book keeping, nor that Siebel account managers prefer salesforce.com to keep track of their sales opportunities): every IT department can use the Dog Food Principle to bridge the gap with their clients at the business side of the organisation.
Having trouble explaining to the business what a service oriented enterprise looks like? Become one your self: start redefining the IT department as a collection of coherent, clearly described services that deliver measurable value and performance and that can be orchestrated in flexible ways. Use UDDI to register them and make them available for reference through the Internet.
Convinced that the organisation would benefit from the new generation of business intelligence applications? Apply it first to your own systems development and applications management processes, creating a real time dashboard of all crucial metrics, then use the dashboard to monitor and improve the performance of your IT department.
A true believer of end-to-end transparency? Provide your business users with a portal that gives them up-to-date, deep insight in the status, progress and deliverables of all your projects, no matter on what place in the world they are actually being run. Ask your project leads to use a blog to communicate on a daily base to all of their stakeholders. Give your clients access to forums to discuss the best and worst practices of the project they are involved in.
Excited with the virtues of Web 2.0? Show the business how you use wiki’s, weblogs, search tools and social networks to create an atmosphere of innovation, self-regulation and true collaborative knowledge management within your IT population.
Doing all these things to your self first, creates tangible showcases that surely beat slideware and unproven value cases. And – let’s be honest – the performance of the IT department should improve too.
Sounds like a double-edged sword indeed.
Any other good examples of dog food that IT can eat them selves? Let us know, share your meal.