How to Successfully Implement a Developer Engagement and Community Platform

Successful implementations require meticulous planning.

The goal of implementing a developer engagement and community platform should always be in pursuit of increased employee productivity, improved customer service (both internal and external), and lower support costs. Successful implementations require meticulous planning, a deep understanding of what makes your company unique in your space, and adequate training for your user base.

Your organizational culture may need to evolve to adapt to a new way of working. You may be a company already using a knowledge management tool and are just switching vendors, in which case your team will have minimal pain in terms of adoption. Your user base understands the importance of community and will only need to be trained on the new software. If your company and users are new to this type of software, you’ll have to establish a culture of knowledge sharing where people don’t feel threatened when breaking out of their silos. This threat comes from the fear that users may be wrong about what they think they know, or that they could put themselves out of a job by giving away all of their knowledge.

Establishing a new culture can be challenging but will pay off at the end of the day when you see projects completed quickly, developers actually coding instead of answering or asking questions, and your support costs begin to decrease. To encourage adoption of the developer community, you must start from the top. Encourage managers to embrace the tool and they can then encourage their employees by being living examples, modeling the behaviors you seek, instead of just telling them what to do.

As with any new business initiative, you need to also establish clear objectives for your developer community. Having a clear set of objectives and how you’ll measure progress is a key indicator of success. Take the time before implementation to understand your needs and goals. What do you expect of your managers, their employees, and the community? Will there be a code of conduct in place? Who do you want contributing to this community? How will the community be structured? Will your R&D, product, and support teams all have unique spaces where they can collaborate on projects?

A developer engagement and community platform can be a powerful tool. Articulate your objectives for each team as clearly as possible and understand that setting objectives is a continual process. You’ll have to remind and encourage behavior related to those objectives to ensure your team fully embraces the community.

Decide what a successful developer community will look like before you start. The most successful communities are those with clearly defined goals and KPI’s. What will tell you that you’ve got a thriving, growing, and valuable developer community?

You need to tie your metrics for success directly to the goals you established when beginning this project. Set SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time Based) like wanting to reduce the time it takes your support team to answer questions by 10% within 3 months of implementation.

Without training, your implementation will fall flat. Most software in the knowledge management space is fairly intuitive but you should still provide training to every user to explain the more intricate details and features of the platform. Training will also allow you to explain your goals to your users, demonstrate desired behaviors, and explain what metrics will be used in measuring success.

While this isn’t a comprehensive guide to implementation of every developer engagement and community platform out there, these four major points should be considered when thinking about using any new developer focused tool that could have an impact on your company. Use these strategies to get your team on the right path and then download our free ebook for even more tips on building an engaged developer community.