How many developers did we help?

Measuring success in Developer Relations is always one of the most interesting questions or challenges. Every organization does it differently – from measuring how many stickers were handed out, how many Twitter followers one has, to how many people attended a conference talk, to how many API calls were made. There are many more things you can measure. Every approach has its pros and cons and every organization will use an approach that helps reach their business goal(s).

I listened to a great Under the hood of Developer Marketing podcast with Jesse Davis:

where Jesse shared that a metric we should care about is how to help the developer next.

I thought about this more. Could success in Developer Relations be measured by how many developers did we help? What I like about this measure (or KPI – Key Performance Indicator) is that it’s not one specific thing (like how many people attended an event) but it encompasses the true measure and value of Developer Relations in my opinion: how many developers did we help?

Now, what does it mean? Well, I believe helping developers encompasses many things.

How many developers did we help by answering questions sent via email?

How many developers did we help by answering their questions on a community forum, Twitter or any other social network?

How many developers did we help by answering questions and sharing solution benefits at a conference booth?

How many developers did we help with registering for a new developer account?

How many developers did we help by showing how to make the very first API call?

How many developers did we help by sending them a tutorial or an article that will help them solve their problem or explain how something works?

How many developers did we help by publishing a new tutorial on a blog?

How many developers did we help by recording a video and publishing it our YouTube channel?

How many developers did we help by connecting them with marketing department, sales, product, engineering or human resources? There is a superb article on this topic by Mary Thengvall.

How many developers did we help learn something new at a hands-on workshops or meetup?

How many developers did we help by doing a technical demo?

How many developers did we help by showing an example of integrating our solution with a 3rd part API?

How many developers did we help when they searched for a question on your forum and found the answer?

How many developers did we help by sharing whether a solution is the right fit for the problem they are trying to solve?

How many developers did we help when they stopped by to talk with us and ask questions after a talk at a conference or meetup?

How many developers did we help by recommending what to try and learn next for their career?

How many developers did we help by making them awesome and super heroes?

How many developers did we make more successful?

There are probably many more.

You might still need to specifically measure some of the things listed above and some might be easy to measure but, I believe that how many developers did we help is a very good way to measure success.

What do you think?

5 thoughts on “How many developers did we help?

  1. Hey Max, I think it’s an interesting idea. Here are a few things I’d be careful about:

    1. Mixing outputs and outcomes. Most of your “How many..?” questions are output-based. The numbers reflect activities done by your team (questions answered, demos delivered). On the other hand, questions like “How many developers did we help by making them awesome and super heroes?” or “How many developers did we make more successful?” feel more like outcomes rather than outputs to me. You may object that you’re not suggesting to measure the # of answers and # demos but rather # of devs you helped. But in the real world, it all comes down to assessing and distinguishing whether (and how much) you really helped one or more persons. This is very difficult and usually falls back to measuring the activities themselves.

    2. Focusing on a lead measure. It can be useful to track how many people you helped. But it’s just a lead measure. If you want to use the metric for strategic purposes (binding it to the company strategy, using it for OKRs, proving the value of what you do to the C-level management) you need to accompany it with a lag measure which will reflect what you’re trying to achieve. Otherwise, it’d be pure altruism, which, don’t take me wrong, is praiseworthy, but hardly viable and justifiable in a business environment.

    3. Lacking actionability. Suppose I have just this single number (# devs helped), how can I decide on what to do next? The number gives me the idea of the current state of things but I can hardly use it to steer my ship. Shall I focus on Q&As, docs, samples, events?

    I’m a true believer in helping developers being successful. And I think the role of us, DevRel people is to find the overlap with business goals and make all parties benefit from the relationship.

    1. Thank you for your comment and feedback. I agree, there is no one way to measure success. At the end of the day, each organization will decide how to measure DevRel success that ties to their company’s objectives.

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