Delicious Dog-food

“It was tears, pain, frustration and anger at the Karnataka Examination Authority (KEA) headquarters yet again. The online seat selection process of the Common Entrance Test (CET) was a mess on Friday,” reports today’s Times of India.

We in such cases blame the officials and bad process. Such problems are mostly the result of bad software. The companies implementing these applications are quality certified and highly accredited for the ‘maturity’ of their development processes. Such are the companies which contribute to shameful and absurd errors and corruption of the systems. Ire of the end user seldom is directed to the creator of the problem.

For the software companies, the applications are business opportunities and all that counts is their profit margin. In this industry, requirements are not considered opportunities, but as problems. A sad term often used is ‘problem statement,’ which is essentially an ‘opportunity statement.’ Psychological advantages of considering the work as an opportunity rather than a problem. 

Our software companies rant sacred mantras like customer focus, customer is king, customer is God, customer is always right, etc. These fashion statements are supported by the quality process certification schemes. For the vendor companies, customer is the one who pays. End user is disregarded. 

Software developers also are users of applications for common use like banking, education, travel, healthcare, e-Governance, etc. If only this community considered themselves to be the customers and satisfy themselves with the quality of the software they develop, they would become better professionals and we will have useful and reliable systems.

Dogfooding refers to companies that use internally the software products they create for the public. Developers who do not use their own software on a regular basis are often unable to understand the problems users face.

Let the software developers regularly eat the dog-food they cook. Dog-food will turn delicious. If not, the officials and the public should hold the software community accountable.



About pgbhat

A retired Naval Officer and an educationist. Has experience with software industry. A guest faculty at different institutes and a corporate trainer with software development companies.
This entry was posted in eGovernance, Profession, Social Issue, Technology. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Delicious Dog-food

  1. Raman Kumar says:

    Reminds me of two key words ‘Quality’ & ‘Assurance’ with well proven acceptance methodology with a pre-drawn QAP.


  2. If accountability is fixed and the responsible persons face repercussions, everything will automatically fall in place – The problem also lies in our mentality of ‘chalta hai’ and moving ahead


  3. Keshav says:

    This lack of quality consciousness seems to be across the board but it seems to show more with some public (Govt.) end-user systems than private & B2B services. Railways and other systems seem to be pretty solid. Is it possible, the Govt. is not pressing for quality guarantees because they themselves don’t know what to ask for? Or is it because of corruption?


  4. pgbhat says:

    Thank you Keshav, for taking the discussion forward.
    I think lack of – involvement, accountability, concern for the end user – play big role in low quality. The end user’s voice is feeble in government systems. Wherever the provider of a service considers himself superior to the beneficiary, quality suffers. When I asked a public sector bank to correct errors in their software and contents in their website, they ignored me. I am one of the million customers for them. We can expect such responses from hospitals and schools where the the power distance index (PDI) between the provider and consumer is big in Indian society. Corruption may be playing a lower role in quality un-consciousness.


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