What is DevRel: for Manager and Engineering Leaders
You've probably heard of DevRel, but aren't really sure what it means. Is it the group that produces video content? The ones that market your APIs to developers? Is it the community managers spending all their time on Twitter? Is it the people doing demos of the products or is it the guy who gives out cool swag and has a sticker covered laptop? In this brief post, I'll do my best to explain what the nebulous field of DevRel means to engineering Managers and leaders.
In my original post, What is DevRel?, I lay out some of the key aspects of Developer Relations for the every day person and those who may be interested in doing DevRel. (I suggest reading that first before continuing on with this).
Now that you've read that and understand that DevRel lives at the intersection of Computer Science and Communication, let's continue:
Functions of DevRel:
- To be the voice of the Developer both internally and Externally. This means capturing feedback, building community, and working with different orgs inside the company including product, engineering, marketing, sales, professional services, and more.
- To build a two way communication of trust, loyalty, and understanding between developers and the company.
- To improve the developer experience wherever possible
- To help developers understand offerings and close the feedback loop with developers
- To enable developers authentically
- Increase Developer Productivity and Efficiency (example: reduce developer friction)
- Through the long tail: spreading the word and creating advocates
- Promote developer ecosystem, conferences, and build relationships
- Developer Onboarding, outreach, and support.
How other companies do DevRel:
- Oracle provides sample code, examples, and community on their GitHub.
- GitHub has a team of DevRels who give talks at conferences, help spread the word, create advocates, produce content such as podcasts, youtube videos, blog posts, and demos to share ways of improving the developer experience
- Stripe DevRels makes world class documentation for developers, helps influence product decisions (most of their customers are developers) to improve the developer experience. They're also responsible for things like content (blog posts, videos, a developer conference, and talks).
- DigitalOcean has some of the best docs on the internet for how to do X where X can be anything from setting up a server, running Spring, building a Kubernetes cluster etc. You don't have to be a customer to use their docs and guides, but it builds a tremendous amount of trust and helps keep them relevant in developer communities.
DevRel and different internal orgs:
- Product defines the work that needs to be done for an org’s team. DevRel has some of overlap with this as DevRel will also work with people to define what pain points they’re having, what they’re interested in, and what they need. DevRel works with product to help define these and be the voice of the developer by advocating for their needs. This often occurs with things developers care about like APIs, docs, and developer tools. Ultimately, product makes the decision on what to build, but in a developer focus org, this line is quite blurry. Sometimes DevRel also wears the hat of Product.
- Often the number one customer of DevRel functions. Often DevRel is a function of engineering offering a close knit relationship between the two because the main audience for the DevRel team is developers and engineers.
- Developers are adverse to traditional marketing.
In my experience, developers don't like being marketed to. They're often more skeptical and resistant to traditional marketing, or well.. all marketing. [Read more →]
- If you're selling to developers, DevRel is your friend. They’ll help you understand the offerings, can help share content, answer questions on behalf of developers, and share relevant API and developer docs.
- DevRel can help influence the sale of a company's product. If the company's offerings include aspects that touch a developer, DevRel and the products they produce (docs, code, videos, examples, community, open source, etc) can be a significant tool in gaining the trust of a potential customer.
- Helps build a developer community which can act as proxies for purchasing and retention.
- Healthy developer communities as customers are often more likely to become advocates.
- APIs, often a key piece of a DevRel team's tool belt can cause customer stickiness through integration.
- DevRel is often the team helping a customer's developers become successful with the company's products.
- Developer Advocate
- Community Manager
Why do you need DevRel?
DevRel is increasingly important in the tech industry as developers are often the primary users of new technologies and can be powerful advocates for a company's products or services. By building strong relationships with developers, companies can increase their brand recognition, drive adoption of their products or services, and build a loyal user base.
Overall, the goal of developer relations is to build a strong and engaged developer ecosystem that can help drive innovation and growth for a company.