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Tessa Kriesel for Devocate

Posted on • Originally published at devocate.com on

DevRel Teams: Solitary to Collaborative

DevRel Teams: Solitary to Collaborative

Developer Relations is a relatively new industry, at least the term anyways. For me, the most frustrating part of our β€œyouth” is speaking to contributors who are new to DevRel themselves and are thrown into a role where they’re a team of one, not fully understanding what they got themselves into. Being a DevRel team of one can be an incredibly stressful role and many areas can play into this. At any given time a DevRel team can be working to accomplish the following list of tasks.

DevRel Contributions*

  • Content creation
  • Advocacy
  • Strategy & planning
  • Team management
  • Events
  • Internal company relations
  • Research & technical expertise
  • Support
  • Outreach
  • Product development
  • Marketing
  • Website updates
  • Social media
  • Stakeholder buy-in

If we look through this list, we can see numerous roles across an organization, and DevRel is often expected to do them all with their developer audience. Depending on company structure, you may be able to find allies across the org to help support these areas, however, these allies may not know your audience as you do. In my career, I’ve found allies across all of these contribution areas, but I’ve had to work hard to instill what developers need versus other audiences.

Solitary to Collaborative

Whether you’re a team of one or a team of many, you’re still tasked with the same objectives. A team of one requires more of a generalist to find success, whereas a collaborative team means you can hire people more specialized in their experienceβ€”likely driving a greater impact in that niche. It’s how you scale your developer program efforts.

DevRel Objectives*

  • Educate & support developers
  • Drive awareness
  • Drive engagement
  • Feedback on products
  • Build brand
  • Drive innovation
  • Drive sales (through education)
  • Support deflection
  • Enhance other products
  • Obtain code contributions

Let’s take this list of objectives and sort them into the four functional areas of developer relations.

Marketing

  • Drive awareness
  • Drive sales
  • Build brand

Community

  • Educate & support developers
  • Drive engagement
  • Feedback on products
  • Obtain code contributions
  • Drive innovation
  • Support deflection

Education

  • Educate & support developers
  • Support deflection

Experience

  • Educate & support developers
  • Drive innovation
  • Enhance other products

These lists can easily be interchanged, there are no two DevRel teams that are exactly the same, but these separations resonate with my experience and what I’ve learned. Developer Advocates play a role in all four of these functional areas, while a community manager usually focuses on the community function and passively supports the others as needs arise.

If you’ve read the book β€œDeveloper Marketing Does Not Exist” you’ve learned that developer marketing, well, doesn't exist, but it doesn’t exist because it’s in the form of education over promotion. Therefore, it’s not really marketing. That doesn’t stop your stakeholders from assigning marketing-like goals to your programs and team. Therefore, you need to do this through educational driven contributions and focus on what your audience needs to find you trustworthy.

Your DevRel program can be one-person or a fully-staffed team with leaders across various functions. If you’re a lean program and only have a developer advocate on staff, it’s likely those folks are burning out, quickly. Consider finding allies across the org to supplement their contributions as well as bringing in someone to specifically lead the community and maybe even experience. As you scale you should consider bringing in additional developer advocates, DX engineers, technical writers, multimedia producers, and more. I’ve shared some job titles below that I’ve seen across various Developer Relations teams.

DevRel Job Titles

  • Developer Advocate
  • Technical Community Manager
  • DX (developer experience) Engineer
  • Technical Writer
  • Developer Marketing Manager
  • Events Coordinator
  • Program Manager
  • Campaign Manager
  • Community Engineer
  • Community Coordinator
  • Outreach Manager
  • Community Programs Manager
  • Curriculum Engineer
  • Training Manager
  • Product Manager
  • Technical Support Engineer
  • Technical Editor
  • Programs Engineer
  • Multimedia Producer

Every organization has different needs and different goals and DevRel teams need to adapt and understand how to best serve their developer audience across many different specialties and skillsets.

* Data captured from the State of Developer Relations report

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DevRel Teams: Solitary to Collaborative

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We'll cover functional areas of DevRel, how to build a team upon your needs, and reporting structures for success.

Wednesday, Feb 16, 2022 11:00AM - 11:30AM CST

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