Event planning software isn’t clearly defined. Depending on who you ask, what you type into Google, and your personal semantical preferences, it could mean any type of event software out there.
As I showed previously in The Big Guide To Event Software And How To Use It, the term could refer to attendee management tools, CRMs, floorplans, project management, marketing suites, and whatever else you can think up. And that’s tricky for a team that’s building software to help event professionals. I mean, what do you actually make? Are features more important than ease-of-use? Should we solve one big problem or many little ones?
No Pre-conceived Notions Of What Event Planning Software Should Be
So we approached the entire problem without pre-conceived notions of what event planning software should look like. Instead, we talked to even pros. And talked, and talked and then talked some more. Some of the discussions were open-ended explorations of what event planners do each day. In other sessions, we shared prototypes or working features.
Of course, it helped that we had event pros on the team too. Still, we wanted to find the commonalities between event planners, florists, corporate MICE folks, and wedding coordinators. And that meant (and still means) lots of learning.
But we also “dogfooded” ThymeBase, which allowed us to find some fun tips and tricks that I’ll share with you below. But what on earth is dogfooding?
Eating Our Own Dogfood
There’s a long history in the pet food industry of founders touting that they feed their dog food to their own pups. There are even stories (perhaps apocryphal) of CEOs eating their company’s dog food at board meetings. Funnily enough, I’ve personally met an organic cat food maker who told me she regularly ate her brand as a way to prove it’s quality. And yes, I bought some for my cat.
In the tech industry, dogfooding or eating your own dog food applies to teams that use their own product. This is done to uncover optimizations and improvements and build a closer affinity with the customer experience. The term was supposedly coined by Paul Maritz when he worked at Microsoft.
So how does the ThymeBase team eat our own dog food?
How We Use Event Planning Software For Development
We use ThymeBase for almost all of our work. And luckily, a lot of that work is planning, sharing information and files, and staying on top of deadlines. Sound familiar?
Liz, ThymeBase Chief Product Officer (and co-founder), creates an event around something we want to build. For example, Activity and Commenting – something we’re about to release in the next few days.
Then, Liz builds out the task list and assigns them across the team. For example, code tasks get assigned to Eric, while design tasks go to Jerry. I get given copywriting tasks. The cool thing is, once I get an assignment, I get an email notification.
Sometimes We “Hack” Our Own Software
But there are some differences between event planning and software project management. So we sometimes do little workarounds. We use categories very broadly. Often, a category is a high-level feature with smaller sub-features beneath it.
I use the task dashboard in my own unique workflow. I like to organize my daily tasks in one place, so I do one of two things. First, I head over to the task dashboard and click edit on the to-dos I expect to complete today. Then, I switch the task’s event to my own event called “Today.”
Once I’ve completed the task, move it back to its original event, and mark it as done.
What The Hacks Teach Us
Why hack our own software at all? Well, it uncovers interesting workflows and feature ideas. Both the above little hacks will become into features in their own right.
We’ll be building sub-tasks and a “my stuff” dashboard. Still, we’d never have genuinely understood the practicalities until we forced ourselves to use the workarounds. And we’ll know we’ve built the features correctly when it’s easier than the workaround.
Other Ways We Dogfood Our Event Planning Software
Let’s talk about teams. ThymeBase is a team, and we collaborate on many “events” while also managing our own personal events.
When I’m working on a marketing plan, I often add David, our CEO, to the event. We’re both really into marketing, and by adding him to the event, I can give him visibility into my ideas.
By working as a team in ThymeBase, we very quickly learned that activity tracking and comments are absolutely critical. And we understand exactly what our customers experience too.
One of the best ThymeBase features we use as a team is the rich description area in each task. Everyone shares images, links, and files under the relevant task, which keeps everything really contextual. Frankly, this is one of the most significant advantages we have over other team tools like Slack.
Dogfooding The Industry
Ultimately, if we’d like you, an event pro, to do most of your work in ThymeBase, we need to do our work entirely in ThymeBase too. That’s why we actually plan our own events. Yes, we plan real events in ThymeBase as a way to discover things to improve.
I’m working on an event right now. And when I assigned a task to Beth (an event pro in Chicago), I realized I didn’t know if she’d see it. Sure, we send an email notification, but what if someone missed it? Well, I chatted to Liz about this, and we’ll soon add in read receipts and follow-ups.
And while I spent years working in venues and as a wedding vendor, actively working on real events with ThymeBase is still an invaluable exercise. I guess you could call it dogfooding the industry. I’m coining that today!
Our Roadmap and You
But that’s not enough. Sure, we use ThymeBase ourselves every day, but we’re unique, and so are you. That means you’re using ThymeBase differently.
I want to hear what you want in your event planning software. And I want to use your suggestions myself with my team. So please get in touch and tell me how I can make your life easier.