You’ve identified the need for a developer community solution, you may be evaluating vendor options, seeing who best solves the problems you’ve identified. The question now becomes, “How do I sell this to my company and get buy-in from senior leadership?” The most important thing to have prepared before you go to leadership is a well-developed plan with data to back up your ideas, specifically focused around ROI.
It’s nearly impossible to get buy-in without providing examples of value clearly. It becomes vital then to do more than having a goal of, “increased loyalty,” or “an active user-base.” You need to develop the goal further from increased loyalty to “creating repeat buyers,” and “increasing the rate of upsells.” These relate the loyalty you desire directly to the monetary impact on your business.
For example, let’s assume you have a customer base of 150 clients with a retention rate of about 90%, and your software costs about $30,000 / year as a base package with add-ons starting from $1,000. Also, assume a healthy 15% growth rate of customers acquired per year (great job!). If you increase loyalty by providing a focused developer community where knowledge is shared, ideas are acted upon, and support is rapid-response, you could see your retention rate rise by 3-5% (let’s go with 93%).
Revenue is calculated above by multiplying the number of customers you have by your retention rate by your growth rate. You can see how just a three percent change in your retention rate would lead to almost an additional MILLION dollars over the course of 5 years. If the developer community software solution you choose costs about $40,000 / year, that’s nearly an ROI of 5X (this is assuming that the ONLY benefit is retention)! What we didn’t account for above is accelerated or changes in growth of your business. It’s naive to assume a steady growth of 15% every year, especially in the software business and while we currently sit in a period of near universally high economic growth.
This example won’t work for everyone, but one thing you can do is try to figure out what the cost of a question is to your business. This looks at retention as well in how much you’ll be able to save with reduced support costs. The above article will give you a guide to calculating how much money you spend, almost to the minute, if someone in your developer community has a question. Present your leadership team with a clear picture of ROI, gather a team to discuss how you’ll measure the success of the community, and then project what your expected results will be. Data is the key to successfully championing your developer community initiative.