Dries Buytaert recently wrote about why it makes perfect business sense for a Drupal agency to employ a Full time Drupal Core Contributor. Dries asked Drupal agencies to look at hiring someone to work on the core Drupal projects not as a cost, but an investment. We, at
We, at Axelerant have always believed this to be true and kept the open source philosophy close to our values. We are 30+ people company, with a Drupal focus. So, we went ahead and announced openings for the Drupal Core Contributor position not too long ago. We just recently filled this position.
The spirit of giving back to the community was not born along with this position, but was always ingrained in the organization’s temperament. Everyone working at Axelerant is passionate about the community and contributes, either with what they have learnt or what they have fixed (or both).
The process has been through a series of refinements and eventually, we created a position to formalize the contribution cycle for Drupal core and contributed projects, as well as community activities.
Having a dedicated Drupal contributor on board is beneficial to an organisation at many levels. For one, it establishes the organisation at the cutting edge of the curve of a rapidly-transitioning technology, and reinforces their commitment to giving back into one of the most dynamic communities in the Open Source domain.
On the execution level however, the returns are manifold; the contributor remains abreast of all changes and developments in the technology, and is thus a valuable asset to train, educate and establish best practises, and define frameworks that bring excellence to the organisation’s Drupal portfolio. Needless to say, this is added value to a customer, as an assurance of reliable implementation of a robust technology platform.
Externally, the contributor will represent the organization in the community. This includes events such as local camps, ubiquitous events such as Drupal Global Training Days, and other channels. This, along with other community material such as blog posts and presentations, will provide value for the marketing effort.
Perhaps the most important benefit of such a role is, as Dries puts it, avoiding the “Tragedy of Commons.” Formalizing the contribution process in an organization will help sustain the Drupal community and the project. On the other hand, diversifying the responsibility ensures a healthy Drupal ecosystem.
“Additionally, distributing employment of core contributors across multiple Drupal organizations can be healthy for Drupal; it ensures institutional independence, diversified innovation and resilience.”
Drupal Core Contributor Role
Our vision at Axelerant in defining this role was to streamline the otherwise ad hoc contribution model. Everyone at Axelerant takes their community seriously and make every effort to participate in issue queues on Drupal.org or providing training at Drupal Global Training Days. This is true to more than one of our core values, of Passion, Openness and Giving.
The contributor will make sure that the community contributions of Axelerant are well represented. Additionally, a bit of specialization will put the contributor in real world projects which will help prioritize real world needs while driving innovation.
For Axelerant, a Drupal Core/Community Contributor would hold these responsibilities, in terms of contribution:
Working on Drupal 8 issues (the current upcoming release).
Managing the community contribution portfolio for Axelerant, helping the team write reusable, contributable code.
Helping fix issues in contributed modules.
Represent Axelerant at various Drupal events.
Help build a formidable knowledge base and best practices to keep us on the cutting of Drupal development.
Depending on the expertise, the contributor may also work on specialized solutions and technical audits of the deliverables. The knowledge gained when working on real-world projects is very valuable when contributing back to the community and driving innovation in the Drupal project itself.
In his post, Dries stresses on measuring the returns of this investment, and for a good reason. The results can be very helpful to the company in planning a strategy to improve the returns and targeting gaps. They are also encouraging to the organization and others planning to follow this route.
One of the key success metrics to track is leads and sales generated as a direct result of community activities, such as webinars and blog posts and knowledge sharing. Modern analytic tools make it very convenient to measure various metrics and subsequent analysis can highlight current trends and patterns. An agency can use this information in developing a content strategy as well as bring out potential niches. This, in turn, would drive further community growth within the organization and out.
While Axelerant has long supported and contributed to the Drupal community, formalizing the process in a new position has placed Axelerant in an innovative segment amongst Drupal service providers. We will be continuously polishing the role based on real-world feedback to optimize the overall process and improve the returns. We will share our experiences and triumphs in due course, and learn from the challenges.