Developer Relations for Internal Developers

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When a company has a platform or API that it wants outside developers to create cool stuff on, it will sometimes create a developer relations group. This group will help developers get what they need. What about custom dev shops that already have a host of developers? Who’s watching these developers’ backs?

Love note

A new level of developer relations

RIM developer relation needs being what they are, they’ve gone this far to promote their BlackBerry 10 SDK:

It’s awesome. Maybe “desperate”? It shows a definite effort (high notes) to attract and accommodate developers.

Essential vitamins and minerals

Once developers are in a company, what are the elements of developer relations that are needful there. What does a company need to retain top coding talent? I offer:

  1. Engaging Responsibilities - Smart guys are not going to sit around in your company doing the same thing for 10 years. In tech, probably not even for a couple. This might also be stated as “Career Path”. I think this requirement is similar to what Business Insider observed young workers as needing: “Multiple studies find that today’s younger workers have absolutely no intention of sticking around if they don’t feel like they’re learning, growing and being valued in a job.”

  2. Learning Opportunities - Learning is an inherent part of every developer job description. It must be kosher to spend time to sharpen the saw. This is building capactiy. No one will ever propose solutions that they don’t understand. If your company wants to broaden its offering, developers will need to broaden themselves.

  3. Budget for Engineering - Build money into project budgets. Build time into the timelines. Good developers will quickly lose morale if there is never time to do it right. If you don’t give time to cleanup technical debt, developers will not feel satisfied in what they create.

  4. Always Have an Advocate - Every company will get it wrong sometimes. Especially in large, specialized organizations, everyone has their own functional slice that they’re focused on, sometimes at the expense of all else. Developers need someone who speaks for them. They need someone who has a voice in the bureaucracy and can represent them well where they don’t personally have a voice.

Everyone needs a coder, especially a good one

If developer relations are not upkept with care, good coders are likely to head for the door. Alternately, if just certain elements are occassionally missing, good developers know how to fill in the gaps and provide for themselves.

Just as an API/platform creator attract talent to build cool stuff for them, organizations with their own internal dev force need to take developer relations seriously. Good organizations and good leaders take good care of all their people. I work at such an organization with such people. We need more.

What else might be an essential ingredient in maintaining favorable developer relationships?