You have to eat your own dog food

Dyson has certainly come a long way in the 20 years since Sir James launched his first vacuum cleaner, the DC-01. This much-admired UK company now claims to spend about £2 billion a year on research and development, and are working on new battery technology and many other wonderful gadgets, including quieter hair dryers. Can't wait.

All sounds great doesn't it? But there I was yesterday, trying to clean my stairs with my Dyson, the extendable hose outstretched fully, yet it wouldn't reach the top stairs. In fact, I had to use so much force just to stretch it to reach just three or fours stairs from the top, with the plugged-in base unit quivering at the bottom doing all it could to remain tethered and not fly up towards me like a Harrier jump jet suddenly taking off.

So it got me thinking. Surely this is a fundamental flaw, right? If you're going to make a vacuum cleaner that claims to have a stair attachment, would it not be great if you could actually clean all your stairs in one go, without having to do some strange combination of top-down then switching to bottom-up?

What do these guys do in their R&D department? Perhaps they should try cleaning it or at least clean their own stairs. And that's the thing about business whether offering a service or a product or in our case software. You have to test stuff. It's not good enough to run scenarios or modelling, you have to use it in the real world. "You have to eat your own dog food".

We use Zahara to do all our buying and it's one of the ways we have managed to refine it and make it better. Some of the key features are as a result of us wanting to do things better. We switched our accounts system to Xero last year as well so we could get the benefit of seeing what our customers would see, and then setting out to make our integration work great for them and us. When we demo Zahara we will often show our own invoice or orders panel so you can see actual buying going.

We have a small bowl of dog food on the floor in our common room. It's our metaphor and reminder that we need to "walk the walk" as well as "talk the talk". No one has ventured into eating it. It does look a bit dry, but when Chester the Jack Russel visits, he will tuck in if he's hungry. He definitely eats his own dog food!


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