Dogfooding: A Cost-Effective and Essential Approach to Product TestingSoujanya Maddipoti
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Imagine releasing a product or application with poor quality. The application is unfeasible to use and navigate from one menu to another. By the time we realize that the features are not generating value for intended customers, it may be too late to make any modifications, and it will be exorbitant to fix them. In such situations, Dogfooding testing helps prioritize features.
What is Dogfooding?
Dogfooding is testing our product in the real-world environment to understand the performance and other key attributes and how the features generate for the end-user. Beta testing is also done in the real-world environment, but there is a difference between beta testing and Dogfooding. While beta testing identifies the coding flaws in a user’s environment, Dogfooding focuses on discovering product flaws.
How did the “dogfooding” term originate?
The term “dogfooding” first appeared in an email sent by Microsoft manager Paul Maritz in 1988 to all of his workers with the subject line “Eating our own dog food,” encouraging people to use the company’s products and share feedback on any issues they encountered. Today, dogfood testing is used by large product companies to assess and test the quality of their software and products.
When is the Dogfooding test performed?
The Dogfooding test is typically performed once the base version of the product is available and every time a new feature is added to an existing product. In both cases, the testing is done in a real-world environment to understand the performance and other key quality attributes, and to assess how the features are generated for the end user.
Prerequisites for the Dogfooding testing team:
The prerequisites for the Dogfooding testing team include:
- The team shouldn’t be a member of the QA or development teams.
- The team should include members of various ages and genders.
The development or QA teams will test the product/application to detect the bugs in the code rather than testing the product from the standpoint of the user. As a result, we need a team to test the application from the user’s point of view. The product will be understood differently by each user depending on their age and gender. As a result, every time a new user utilizes the product, we receive a larger quantity of inputs. While the user may not require all features, some features are essential to make a product easier to use. Even before the product is officially released, we might make modifications to the present version based on their feedback to improve its reliability and usability for all user kinds and groups.
Advantages of Dogfooding:
The advantages of using the dogfooding approach in product testing include:
- Minimal to no production defects: By testing the product in a real-world environment, various stages of testing continuously ensure that there are no product defects in the production environment.
- Reduced testing costs: As testing is managed internally by existing staff, there is no need to recruit any outside resources. This results in reduced testing costs or no additional costs required.
- Faster detection of functionality issues in the product: Testing is done after every new enhancement or whenever a feature is stable, which allows the team to identify issues promptly.
- A more reliable and trustworthy product will be released to the market: By testing the product from the standpoint of the user, the team can assess how the features are generated for the end-user, which leads to a more reliable and trustworthy product being released to the market.
Disadvantages of Dogfooding:
There are a few disadvantages of using the dogfooding approach in product testing, including:
- Limited time and scope: If the workforce is more knowledgeable about the product, there are greater chances of overlooking issues or mistakes when performing the dogfooding. Therefore, we must ensure that the dogfooding crew rotates frequently.
- Delay in implementation: If the team is delayed in providing feedback, it will cause a delay in implementation and will affect the organization’s revenue.
Overall, while there are some potential drawbacks to dogfooding, the benefits can outweigh the risks when implemented properly. By ensuring that the team testing the product from the user’s perspective is diverse and rotates frequently, any potential issues can be identified and addressed promptly, resulting in a more reliable and trustworthy product being released to the market.
If the workforce is more knowledgeable about the product, there are greater chances of overlooking issues or mistakes when performing the Dogfooding. Therefore, we must ensure that the Dogfooding crew rotates frequently. If the team is delayed in providing feedback, it will cause a delay in implementation and affect the organization’s revenue.
Cigniti’s Approach to Dogfooding:
We implemented the Dogfooding approach to test products we were building for our clients. We built a learning portal for one of our large retail clients. The approach is as follows:
- Identified the team from delivery, sales, process, new joiners, SMEs in other domains, and senior resources.
- Created different test environments to perform testing.
- Communicated to all once the base version is available in the test environment.
- Collected feedback from the team and analyzed the feasibility of implementing suggested changes and the business value achieved by these changes.
- Prioritized the suggested changes and modified the product accordingly.
- Performed this process until the product went live.
In conclusion, dogfooding is a vital and cost-effective approach to product testing that is widely used by large product companies. By testing their products in a real-world environment, companies can discover product flaws and prioritize features, leading to a more reliable and trustworthy product being released to the market. While there are some disadvantages to dogfooding, such as limited time and scope, the benefits achieved from this approach, such as reduced production defects, improved utilization, and reduced product costs, make it a valuable testing method for any product development team.
Need help? Consult our team of experienced testers to learn more about Dogfooding and the essential approach to product testing.