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The Cost of Setting Up a Developer Program

October 28, 2015

The world is rapidly becoming more interconnected and many companies that never before had an interest in software development are finding that they need to publish APIs, and promote them. Suddenly they have a “platform”, and a platform is nothing without developers, so they need a developer program and outreach.

Many of them come to us at Evans Data, wanting to know how to do that, and how much it will cost.

So here’s the thing. There’s no one size fits all for developer programs. If someone says to spend x% of your marketing budget on your program, they don’t know much about developer programs. The money and resources needed are going to vary within a lot of parameters.

One of the first and most influential developer programs in the history of the industry was at Borland 25 years ago. At the time there were 100s of thousands of developers in the program, the marketing outreach budget was well over $2M just for developer outreach and, yet there were only three people employed in the actual Developer Relations program. The overhead of that particular department was extremely low because they could draw on a lot of other resources within the company. Tools marketing provided a lot of outreach. The company tech support provided that function, and a corporate events team helped put on conferences, beta events, and so on.

On the other hand, in a company that is new to software development there may be no other resources available to support a program, and the actual program overhead may need to be considerably more in order to provide the required services.

Another factor is the goal for the program. Is it to provide simple tech support for a well-known API, or are there elements of outreach and training built-in? Is it really a partnership support system for a limited number of people, or is it to be designed for a broad audience with possibly worldwide reach?

So, each program initiation and evolution is different. We can sit down with you, understand your goals, and help you determine the type of program you need. After that the cost is easy to calculate.

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