* The Business of Software

A community discussing the business of software, from the smallest shareware operation to Microsoft. A part of Joel on Software.

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Movie:

"Make Better Software" is a 6 movie course designed to help you as you grow from a micro-ISV to a large software company.
Part 1: Recruiting
Part 2: Team Members
Part 3: Environment
Part 4: Schedules
Part 5: Lifecycle
Part 6: Design

Moderators:

Andy Brice
Successful Software

Doug Nebeker ("Doug")

Jonathan Matthews
Creator of DeepTrawl, CloudTrawl, and LeapDoc

Nicholas Hebb
BreezeTree Software

Bob Walsh
host, Startup Success Podcast author of The Web Startup Success Guide and Micro-ISV: From Vision To Reality

Patrick McKenzie
Bingo Card Creator

Being Your Own User

Do you think it's essential that a micro-ISV be motivated to create software that they themselves need, or is it possible to make a business out of producing software within almost any domain providing you're sufficiently motivated?
Would Be Micro-ISV
Wednesday, June 01, 2005
 
 
It's always good to be a user of your own software.  I don't think it's mandatory, but helpful. 

On the flip side, you need to remember that you'll still need feedback from other users - you don't account for 100% of your user base.
Ian Send private email
Wednesday, June 01, 2005
 
 
So Ian, you are on the main user for stealth player? I hope your wife doesn't mind it. ;)

JD
JD Send private email
Wednesday, June 01, 2005
 
 
I'll answer yes to both questions.
Rich Rogers
Wednesday, June 01, 2005
 
 
>So Ian, you are on the main user for stealth player?
LOL - Yes to some extent that's true...

To make a point about the topic, I'd say one of the reasons being a user of your own software is helpful is because you'll inevitably know people who have the same needs. 

I thought up the concept of stealth player, but my friends added many ideas to the feature list through direct conversations and indirect innuendo.  Of course beta users were invaluable to help shape the final product.

<Plug type=”shameless”>
In fact the long awaited Beta 2 will be released late June.  It would be sooner, but I’ll be on vacation for the next two weeks.  There will be some major enhancements.  Check the blog for details.  Of course, anyone who already has the Beta 1 will be automatically upgraded when Beta 2 is released.
</Plug>
Ian Send private email
Wednesday, June 01, 2005
 
 
I think that if you're actively using your own product then you can be sure that it's actually solving at least ONE person's problems or expediting ONE person's workflow.  The challenge comes in when you then have to get into the mind of the user and understand their workflow.  Can't do that without a reasonable sized group of alpha/beta testers.
A Random Transmission from the Ether
Wednesday, June 01, 2005
 
 
I think it is very important to be a user of your own software. When you do that, you feel what the customer will feel and that can lead to better quality and more usability.

If you are not using your own software you are not at the core of the project, and are kind of clueless about what the user is really trying to achieve.
N. Send private email
Wednesday, June 01, 2005
 
 
Very, very helpful but not essential.

It is a tradeoff but weighted towards helpful.  You don't want to feel so alienated by your own product that you despise working on it.

However, you don't want to be so in love with your product that you can't look at business and user issues impartially.

You also usually find something interesting about anything that you spend a lot of time on, even if it isn't something that you personally use.  Everything has its charms for those who work on them enough ... even timesheet systems.
Daniel Howard Send private email
Wednesday, June 01, 2005
 
 
Not essential, but it can be useful. The problem in only considering software that you will be a frequent user of is that it limits you to a pretty small set of domains. Some of the best places to find niches for small ISVs are in areas completely unrelated to software development, or technology for that matter.
lw Send private email
Wednesday, June 01, 2005
 
 
I think the problem with software companies having to be their own best customers is that you end with a software market consisting primarily of source control tools, bugtracking databases, and mountains of other development tools.

And, while it's nice that the landscape of developer tools is ever-expanding, it would be nice if other problem-domains had as many intelligent, committed software developers working on solving their problems.
BenjiSmith Send private email
Wednesday, June 01, 2005
 
 
It's important to have ready access to a representative customer; someone who is a good surrogate for your customer base.

That can be you, IF you are typical of your customer base.  I.e., if you're a brainiac selling software to grandma, then you are NOT a good customer. 

BTW, sw engineers making stuff to please themselves is why we have a lot of hard to use software.  SW engineers are in the 98 percentile for brain power.

Anecdote:  I heard that Ron Popiel (of Ronco Vegimatic fame) made stuff the he would NEVER buy.
Mr. Analogy {uISV Owner} Send private email
Wednesday, June 01, 2005
 
 
Myself, I come up with tons of ideas for products that would improve my tasks at hand. Seldom if ever on stuff I don't experience.

I have a great idea for a fantastic queue system with short waiting times for theme parks - you can tell where and when I came up with the idea.

I'm sure if I had to earn my living as a farmer, my mind would be spinning around trying to get the Next Great Improvement for Milking Cows, but with my current occupation it's been at least 3 months that I spent half a neuron in the issue.
J Send private email
Thursday, June 02, 2005
 
 
I think that it's unrealistic to expect ISVs to only make products for themselves. I mean, if a company makes software for managing dental offices, you don't expect them to run a dental practice on the side. Or if they make hotel management software, you don't expect them to run a hotel.

Now, those respective companies will probably have former dentists or former hoteliers in their management, of course. But if your market isn't software developers or general office products, it's hard to see how you can really be your own user.
Bill Tomlinson
Thursday, June 02, 2005
 
 
I'm always first and curious user of my softwares ;)
Tiendq Send private email
Friday, June 03, 2005
 
 
I have to agree with Bill on this. Just go and look at all the projects on sourceforge, 90% are tools for programmers and no use out in the real world.
Tony
Monday, June 06, 2005
 
 

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