Why Does It Pay to Eat Your Own Dog Food?

Nintex Director of Field and Partner Marketing Jaana Linsenmayer savors memories of how Nintex Workflow helps people work more effectively. Her favorite memory of someone helped by Nintex? Herself. Eat your own dog food? Ninsters live the concept.

When she started at Nintex, she experienced our automated employee onboarding process and remembers being “immediately impressed” at how smooth it went because it wasn’t manual.

“All of the information I had to provide, forms to complete, benefits enrollment, IT set-up – it was all so seamless,” she says. “As a new employee, it made me feel great about working for Nintex because they showed me that they cared enough about new employees to automate a system that sets us up for success.”

Employee onboarding is just one example of a process that Ninsters have automated using our products. In fact, Nintex has an internal program whose sole focus of encouraging – and helping – employees to eat our own dog food to improve projects.

Launched in January 2016, the Operational Excellence Workshop formalizes the IT Department’s commitment to “use our products as much as possible,” says Phil Ray, Nintex Business Application Manager. IT had already automated the employee onboarding process that impressed Jaana. The Operational Excellence Workshop extends those efforts.

The program – whose team members meet regularly to discuss opportunities to improve in-house processes with Nintex – originated with a conversation between Chief Financial Officer Eric Johnson and Vice President of Information Technology Justin Donato.

“For quite some time, I would occasionally be in a meeting and hear someone suggest that we needed to make greater use of our own technology internally,” Eric says. “I also often would hear about productivity challenges we were having. Justin Donato and I connected on the subject and I encouraged him to create a dedicated effort around this. Together, we coined it the Operational Excellence Workshop.”

Below we’ll share a few of the benefits for organizations using your own products, or “eating your own dog food.”

Where Did the Concept of ‘Eat Your Own Dog Food’ Originate?

Ninsters have a lot to share about how they’ve benefited from embracing Nintex products for internal projects.

But before further exploring the Operational Excellence Workshop, let’s look at the origins of this concept of using your own products, often referred to as “dogfooding” or “eating your own dogfood.”

The use of “dogfooding” to refer to companies using their own products is believed to have originated with an Alpo dog food advertising from the 1980s. In one print ad, Alpo spokesman and actor Lorne Greene says: “I feed my dog ALPO because I know meat’s good for him.”

Taking that even further, the president of Kal Kan Pet Food apparently ate a can of dog food at every shareholder meeting, according to UXM article Dogfooding – Why Companies should use their own products.

5 Reasons Why You Should Eat Your Own Dog Food

Using your company’s products offers many benefits for organizations. We know that firsthand from our experiences using the Nintex Workflow Platform. Read on for five major reasons why you should eat your own dog food:

 1.  Enjoy the benefits that customers do

When Nintex Business Analyst Patrick Nguyen meets with fellow Ninsters to help them automate their processes, they become internal customers. Just like our customers, these we realize the benefits of automating processes, including saving time so employees can be more productive.

“This means we can get more work done and free our employees up to spend more time on the higher value aspects of their roles,” Patrick says. “For the employees, this increases their success level and overall job satisfaction.”

Two examples show just how significant those time savings can be. Phil’s team has helped fellow Ninsters save 28 hours a month on a Drawloop® trial request management process, and the partner team save 14 hours a month on the partner license process.

Nintex Human Resources uses Nintex products to automate the entire employee lifecycle, from onboarding to offboarding and everything in between – such as promotions, headcount requests and bonus recommendations.

“Our products have given me back time,” says HR Coordinator Shirley Li. “We’ve taken the painful manual processes of requesting and tracking information into one place. Nintex HR is striving to automate as much as we can with Nintex to showcase how our products can make everyone’s lives easier – from the HR team to managers to employees.”

2.  Save money on a business solution

If your company develops a product that solves a problem or challenge you’re experiencing, why spend money on a product from another company? Using your own company’s products costs the very satisfying price of free. Solving a business challenge at no cost is a powerful motivator to embrace your company’s products.

Nintex Finance and Sales Operations worked together to automate the sales plan compensation process using Nintex Workflow for Office 365, Nintex Forms and Nintex Drawloop® Document Generation. Approvals, signing and tracking of all sales compensation plans are automated from a central and secure location within SharePoint, says Senior Financial Analyst Drew Constant.

Using Nintex products means Drew gains a central repository for tracking the plans and gains the ability to be more agile when new or updates compensation plans must be sent out for approval. He can send a plan from SharePoint within minutes.

“One benefit I constantly think about – being in Finance – is that it is very cost-effective,” Drew says. “Utilizing your own products instead of having to go out and spend money on someone else’s product can lead to saving money and time.”

3.  Understand the products more deeply

In any organization that sells technology or products, it’s important for employees to know as much as possible about what they sell to customers. The easiest way to do that? Use it yourself. After all, reading up on product features and use cases can only take you so far.

“I did research on Nintex before joining and knew it was a great company,” Phil says. “It’s only when I started using it that I began to understand why customers feel that way. It really sold me that the product we’re selling is really great.”

When Patrick sits down with a Ninster interesting in automating a process, he frequently sees interest build as he explains what our products can do to improve that process.

“If they know what product they’re using, they get more passion about the company as a whole,” he says. “We’re using our own products to make things better. Dogfooding gives them more understanding of how Nintex works. If I show them, they understand. ‘Can you do this this and this?’ It brings new excitement to the job.”

4.  Help you improve the product user experience

While using your company’s own products can give you a new appreciation for them, it also enables you to see the products as your customers do. That can include seeing areas for improvement in terms of the user experience, features or other product attributes.

Since Patrick’s role with the Operational Excellence Workshop is similar to what systems administrators and other IT professionals do at customer companies, he can provide valuable feedback. Most recently, he’s provided his perspective on using Nintex Workflow Cloud to our cloud team.

“They ask you, ‘What do you need to do your job since your job is probably what our customers are doing?’ ” Patrick says. “It helps them understand this is an actual use case. This is actual feedback that something is a blocker for me to carry out this task. I’ve helped them understand, this is what makes our product better.”

5.  Acquire internal use cases

Companies benefit from stories of people successfully using their products, and that includes employees.

“I think that it is very important to use your own product so that an organization can develop internal use cases, which then have the potential to be shared externally with partners and potential customers,” Drew says.

Another way those internal use cases can benefit customers is when those processes directly involve customers, such as trial requests and license key requests.

“At the end of the day, if our teams are more productive, if our employees are more content and focused on higher value work, our customers and partners will benefit from a much better experience,” Eric says.


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