Developer Relations (DevRel) Key Performance Indicators (KPIs): A Fresh Look at Driving Value

Summary

Historically, DevRel has been all about driving empathy and awareness with a community of developers with the goal to get developers to “just try our software”

  • Leading developer focused software and software enabled business have changed from a focus on how to help developers be successful with software to proving that the programs are adding real value to the top and bottom lines – proof of case deflection, increased sales, reduced support engineer headcount, and ideation-to-dollars success.


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A New Way of Looking at DevRel KPIs

First, there is a more mature understanding of KPIs. For instance, we know that in a developer community your typical marketing metrics (like bounce rate) are not the same. It’s actually a good thing if a developer doesn’t need to poke and peel her way through every nook and cranny of your website. It means she found what she was looking for quickly and is back to being a productive (and presumably) happy user of your software. Yes, there is more to it than just a bounce rate and we can get into measuring search analytics as well, but the point is: On the surface, we can’t simply apply the same metrics we use for a corporate website to an online developer community.

Second, we understand now that metrics will change and evolve as a company grows – and as our understanding of the developers in our communities grows – something we detail in this blog post. What is critical to measure as you are launching a dev relations program or community will change as that community matures. Just know that as you start to show the business an engaged community of developers, your marketing team will start to get really interested! You don’t want to turn over all your loyal developers straight away though – you’ll need to hold off the marketers until they are ready to tackle developer marketing as its own use case.

Finally, we now understand the more critical force at work that we need to pay attention to – we simply have to support developers. We need them. And they need to be more productive without working crazy hours and burning out. “Crunch culture” needs to be eliminated.

Businesses in every industry are increasingly dependent on developers – from traditional software businesses to now software enabled healthcare companies, insurers and media firms to industrial equipment providers. More companies are hiring developers every day. More than a few CEOs of non-tech companies have come to the realization that their success – even their survival – is predicated on their software developers, so we need to keep the focus on helping them grow… which was what we set out to do with DevRel in the first place.

Whether you are selling to developers or keeping your own developers productive, understanding that helping developers stay productive and happy is perhaps the most important KPI of all.

What Helps Developers Work More Efficiently!

How Can Software and Software Enabled Businesses Provide Better Support for Their Community of Developers?

To me, balance is letting DevRel engage developers in a helpful, positive way that is focused on assisting the developer achieve success with their product – not just peppering them with marketing messages and new products to buy.

Don’t just give them a product, give them a platform to fall in love with. Apple has been known for its cult-like devotion to making developers productive when building in their environment. And we’ve all seen the results. It’s not just that Apple benefits from what developers build on their platform – the developers also benefit. And we end up with amazing new technology that makes our lives better. Who would have ever thought we would be looking at our watches to provide an on-demand EKG reading? Developers are changing the world and we need to provide platforms that help them make their vision a reality.

Make sure your products are dev built, designed, and deployed. Neither finance guys, a non-technical product marketers, nor a committee of business consultants are designing our products. Now, we aren’t trying to trash our right-brained colleagues – we love them! Goodness knows we need those creative souls. That said, there is a reason that an increasing number of developers have the authority to buy stuff in the enterprise – they know of what they speak. Commit to dev relations by being dev-centered in your product mix.

Make their life easier and their job more efficient. We write and talk about community a lot. After all, it’s core to our own products. Our founder built the product by seeing the need to capture knowledge for re-use, and by observing that developers work best when they can ask each other questions and share answers. They get accurate answers from other experts, which helps them get back to what they were working on – the process is quick and easy.

Support developers everywhere and at every stage of their career. The world needs more developers. Whether they are career changers going to coding camp, live in a country far from the tech giants of the world, or are not from demographic groups that traditionally embrace the coding life, we need to foster, encourage, and grow this community to meet the demands for new and innovative technology.

Whether you mentor, host MeetUps, work with groups encouraging children to take up coding careers or answer questions in online communities, it’s important to support your community of developers.

If you’re in the DevRel space or are running a development team of your own, strive for balance when building and designing your community. Yes, the business needs to ensure that there is value in the community, and it’s your job to show that. It’s also your job to make sure that the developers are learning, growing, and doing amazing things with your products. After all, life is really all about relationships and helping one another out – let’s help first and the value will be easy to show.

Conclusion

The days of just wanting developers to give software a chance based on their experience in a community are in the past. Now, encouraging collaboration and continued participation are important goals in DevRel. Build your community right, and when developers start seeing how your community adds value and allows them to be more successful, they will stay.

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