James Governor's Monkchips

Reflections on A Developer Relations Bill of Rights

Share via Twitter Share via Facebook Share via Linkedin Share via Reddit

Anil Dash, CEO of Fog Creek Software, somehow finds time while dropping the sickest of sick burns – whasssaaaaaappppppppppp – to do some thought-leadering. If you’re going to sell a product, you might as well professionalise an industry to sell into – am I right?

Think of “compliance professionals” – surely one of the the greatest IT markets ever. PCI and Sarbanes-Oxley making $$$. GDPR is coming right up. In 2007 I described Governance, Risk and Compliance as the new ERP. Obviously it’s pretty funny risk management spending was peaking just before 2008, but that’s a different story.

Recently Adobe has done a great of coalescing a community around digital marketing metrics – it’s acquisition of Omniture helped carry the vendor through one of the most impressive business transformations of the last 20 years or so in tech – from shrink-wrapped to software as a service. Stephen O’Grady wrote about this transition in The Software Paradox: The Rise and Fall of the Commercial Software Business. When Adobe started running events for the digital marketing community they were crazy popular – “at last! we’ve been recognised. now let’s buy some more software!”

It is now generally accepted that Marketing is one of the main buyers of enterprise software. The CFO has lost control of the purse strings, which has fundamentally changed IT dynamics. Suddenly speed is more important than stability. Big Outsourcing looks decidedly old-fashioned. The Big Switch happened.

“The only sustainable business advantage in an age of unprecedented technical change is unleashing engineering talent.”

Defining a category is great, but defining a buyer is even better. So software is eating the world. Shit is getting real. McKinsey is getting with the program – As sector borders dissolve, new business ecosystems emerge. So who is going to decompose everything and glue all this stuff together? Developers, developers, developers. They are indeed the New Kingmakers. The war for talent hasn’t even begun yet. Serving the needs of developers, giving them a reason to work with you, has never been more important. Making things convenient, consumable, productive and fun is no longer an option.

In this environment the role of Developer Relations is literally mission critical, which means budgets are going to increase, and numbers are going to become more important. In this environment comes Glitch for Platforms which I wrote about recently. In that post I said platform companies relied too much on vanity rather than clarity metrics. Which brings me back to Dash. Every good revolution has it’s 95 theses, so Dash has created A Developer Relations Bill of Rights, because:

“Developer Relations is one of the most strategically important roles for any company that wants to build a successful technology platform. Yet most companies shortchange their Dev Rel teams, and jeopardize their investment in this critical work.”

Amen, Brother. Dash only has 10 so far, so either he wasn’t as verbose as Luther, or he has 85 more to go. Whatever the number he wants to start a discussion about them.

  1. A clear set of business goals
  2. A well-defined place in the organisation
  3. A structured way to impact product or platform
  4. Open lines of communication to marketing
  5. The right tools specifically designed for the job
  6. Explicit ethical and social guidelines
  7. Support for building inclusive communities
  8. Clear distinction from sales engineering
  9. Ongoing resources for professional development
  10. Connection to a community of peers

My feedback. We can’t continue to have Developer Relations metrics looking like the sale of indulgences. “Only ever aim for clarity metrics/avoid vanity metrics” is important. Perhaps is a subset of 1?

Meanwhile I would also like to see 3. more explicitly call for open lines of communication with engineering, as with for marketing, not just “a structured way to influence”. But what do you think?


– Luther’s theses kicked off a period of war and violent turmoil. He was also Anti-Semitic. Please excuse my use of this history story as a metaphor here.

No Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *