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This document has been developed as an assignment during a job interview for a DevRel role in 2021. It may be useful as an inspiration for future DevRel programs. Use it at your own discretion. It's published under the MIT license. Please let me know and give credits if you use it.

OSS Advisors - A DevRel Program Draft

Executive Summary

The OSS Advisors are a diverse external group of people, hand-picked from the communities around [company's name] portfolio and awarded the title of an OSS Advisor for 12 months. With this award we appreciate their efforts in maintaining or contributing to a product and its community that matters to us as much as it matters to them. With this shared commitment to a product we promise them our ongoing support to nurture the community and create a product that better serves the communities' needs. Through aspiring to become or hold the status of an OSS Advisor, they commit themselves to:

  • providing quality product feedback in face to face sessions with product teams and advocates,
  • contribute to creating content covering [company's name] services
  • contribute to [company's name] documentation Through OSS Advisors, [company's name] gains Share of Voice (see appendix) in relevant communities, positioning [company's name] services at the heart of community favorability. OSS Advisors aren’t paid, though they receive benefits with monetary and non-monetary value in the program. By supporting OSS projects and bringing people from various OSS communities together in our program we create new opportunities that are more valuable than what commercially-oriented community programs can offer. OSS Advisors foremost task is to be a trusted external voice for [company's name]. With this program dedicated to nurturing relationships with important maintainers and contributors, we award them, show appreciation and, at the same time, grow our standing in the community and userbase, increase our reach and contribute to trial and paid subscriptions mid- and long-term.


[company's name] support program for OSS contributors, the so called OSS Advisors Program, is an annual award that is given to outstanding supporters of OSS projects that are represented in [company's name] portfolio. [company's name] declared mission is to contribute and pay back to open source projects, hence it’s a natural decision to pay special attention to the projects that are at the core of [company's name] business. Product Engineering, Advocacy and employees at [company's name], who are active contributors to OSS projects themselves, select outstanding contributors to code, documentation and community and invite them into the OSS Advisors Program. The program provides its members (draft list)

  • special access to beta products (when available)
  • event invitations
  • free platform credits
  • a network of like-minded people
  • reimbursement of accommodation when OSS Advisors meet their communities in person, up to four times a year per OSS Advisor
  • accepting recommendations from OSS Advisors for sponsoring OSS events What we ask in return: to help us understand how we can serve the community better with a better product. We seek out their advice.

Opportunity and Value Prop

The community of contributors to open source projects grows organically. The Apache annual community report states a 11% increase in committers last year, from 7203 in 2019, to 8022 in 2020. (Apache by the digits, see appendix) Maintainers and contributors to the OSS products that are at the core of [company's name] business can help us gain visibility and impact through an increase in Share of Voice. OSS maintainers and contributors are key influencers in communities that drive the adoption of the products [company's name] makes its business of. A community educating how to use their product to be used on a certain platform will positively influence broader adoption of [company's name] services, thus increase trial subscriptions and paid subscriptions. A trusted relationship with OSS maintainers and contributors will help us understand early trends in usage as well as product roadmap and gain insights into product requirements. We create opportunity to influence the roadmap. Understanding gaps in the offering lets us create additional business value with our products. Building a program for OSS contributors that we want to work with formalizes a necessary relationship and reduces the risk of inconsistent subjective treatment in these often already existing bounds.

Situation Analysis

During the ongoing pandemic situation there has been a 25% increase in contributions to open source projects. (State Of The Octoverse Report, GitHub, see appendix). Furthermore, the most important platform for open source projects, GitHub, is growing in size and diversity. Developers are still in the majority, but educational and data roles keep on growing and accounting for second and third largest group of roles on GitHub. (“The changing GitHub community”, see appendix) Roles that are key to future growth for [company's name]. [company's name] builds and depends on open source products ([company's portfolio]) and we put these products at the core of our business. A number of developers at [company's name] already contribute to, or were hired because they are active members of these products’ communities. (Currently contributing employees at [company's name] can be invited to co-author and co-lead this program. We should hear their opinion for further refinement of this program draft.) Insights into these communities, having a voice there and being able to contribute and shape the products is an opportunity for [company's name] to grow our business. Yet this has to happen in a community-oriented and collaborative way. Help and support through appreciation, acknowledgement, amplification, growth of userbase, growth in contributors, and quality of documentation is a shared goal of maintainers, contributors and [company's name].

What OSS Advisors are

  • Trusted community people, voicing not only their own opinions, but also those of others
  • Inclusively-minded allies for marginalized groups
  • Independent content creators
  • Influencers who strive to put the community at the center (not monetary interests)
  • Partners to Developer Relations
  • Potential employees

What OSS Advisors are not

  • Extended or contingency staff
  • A team of mini-evangelists
  • A free resource
  • Employees at [company's name]
  • A tool of amplification for our content or marketing campaigns

Definition of an OSS Advisor

An OSS Advisor actively contributes to one of our core products in code, documentation and/or has an active role in the respective community. They spend time on one or more social networks (Twitter, LinkedIn et al or a social network specific to their region) to share their original content like documentation, blog posts or tips and tricks and amplify related news from others like product announcements. They regularly help people adopt the technology and also motivate newcomers to become contributors. OSS Advisors value diversity, equity and inclusion in their communities as well as in the OSS Advisors Program and drive efforts to increase the stance on these topics at many opportunities. They understand how an inclusive community makes a better product. They are interested in increasing the reach of their technology, and hence also strive for simplification, so more people are able to use the product. They want to work with us to make their technology more accessible for broader adoption. They may also aim at improving their standing in the community and use it to create new or better career opportunities. They provide quality product feedback and are willing to voice their opinion when meeting with Technical Product Managers and other representatives from engineering. They are able to filter and prioritize community input.

Program Objectives and Key Results

  • Building a network of responsive experts that are committed to providing high-quality product feedback from themselves and their communities
  • Nurture external voices for [company's name] products
  • Amplifying [company's name] original content and our commitment in contributing to OSS
  • Creation of original content for third-party platforms that include [company's name] services and showcase us favorably.

Projected impact (not all apply to all OSS Advisors evenly), Key Results

  • 1+ product feedback / OSS Advisors / quarter
  • 1+ pieces of content that mention [company's name] / OSS Advisor / month
  • 1+ contribution to [company's name] documentation base / OSS Advisor / month (accounting for seasonality necessary)
  • Continued contribution to [company's name] documentation
  • % increase in trial subscriptions (tbd, when current numbers are available)
  • % increase in visitors to tech pages (tbd, when current numbers are available)
  • More tbd, when company measurables are available

What is Success (tools of measurements in brackets)

  • The product team loves the feedback and is able to improve quality and develop features with the input from OSS Advisors. (engineering NPS)
  • The group of OSS Advisors is well interconnected. (Vitality or workgroup health index of the program)
  • OSS Advisors are not only advocates for their products but for [company's name] portfolio. (Original content mentioning [company's name], Share of Voice)
  • OSS Advisors show great representation of our society in terms of marginalized groups. (OSS Advisors self-identifying as members of marginalized groups)


  • Developer Advocates for ongoing interaction and lead in product feedback and content alignment
  • Product teams, TPMs for product feedback
  • Engineering Leads for commitment in product teams
  • Employees already contributing to OSS projects in [company's name] portfolio for nominations and co-authoring future versions of the program
  • VP or Head of DevRel as sponsor of the program

Collaborational details

  • Cadence meetings between product teams and relevant OSS Advisors (suggested monthly)
  • Ongoing free-to-form relationship between contact person at [company's name] and OSS Advisor (might be online/offline, ideally weekly or bi-weekly touch points)
  • Dedicated Slack/Discord for OSS Advisors, monitored and initially nurtured by Community Program Manager (Advocates and Engineering is at least reactively available.)
  • Request for OSS Advisors contribution to content through Call for Contributions on program communication channels, initiated by Advocacy and Docs team.
  • Program newsletter celebrating new OSS Advisors, contributed content, results of feedback sessions, interesting external content, major product news, and more (suggested monthly)
  • Internal update newsletter on progress to all stakeholders (suggested monthly)

Operational details

  • Nominations are open to the public.
  • We offer a website (similar to GitHub Stars) where any individual can nominate others.
  • You may self-nominate, but probably wouldn’t want to. Self-nominations will be double checked for plausibility.
  • Nominations can happen at any time.
  • Awarding happens rolling, without fixed cycles.
  • Seats in the program are limited by budget availability.
  • Open seats will be filled from the backlog as soon as possible.
  • We strive to have our initial set of OSS Advisors representing our portfolio proportionally.
  • Each award is valid for one year.
  • In the future, award validity may be secured through a blockchain. This might become relevant when the award gains public interest and program size goes beyond manageability through a single Community Program Manager (> 50 OSS Advisors).
  • Voting for nominees happens internally. o The voting board and its members may be disclosed if we have a trust or other business advantage through this. o The voting board includes employees from Advocacy, Engineering and other employees that disclosed their OSS contribution activity to us. o Product teams have a right to veto against a nominee.
  • Award notification happens 1:1 and should never be a system notification email.
  • We might define one contact person within [company's name] for each OSS Advisor who then takes care of personal relationship and notifying on changes. This might be necessary during the start phase of the program when a Community Program Manager is not yet present, but has to happen consistently throughout the program.
  • Office hours for all program members and friends of the program at [company's name] are to be held monthly.
  • We seek to offer educational sessions (e.g. “Growing Contributors”, “How to adopt a Code of Conduct”, “Best Practices for Maintainers”) through OSS Advisors themselves in the program and should be delivered through [company's name] employees only when there is a strong justification for doing so.
  • Keeping track of OSS Advisors contributions through tooling. Can be e.g. Azure DevOps, but requires support of external data sources (e.g. self-service form for OSS Advisors contributions) in future versions of the program. i.e. not Excel.

Road to success

  1. Secure commitment on funding and headcount for v1 plan with VP & founders.
  2. Meet stakeholders and pitch program v1. Collect and integrate feedback.
  3. Develop a final version that gets the approval from all stakeholders.
  4. Start hiring for the Community Program Manager position.
  5. Build the program inclusively from the beginning: gender ratio (taking into account non-binary representation), representation of marginalized groups (LGBTQI+, disability, migration background, diverse experience levels, age)
  6. Create program collaterals (design, layouts, meaningful swag)
  7. Hire a Community Program Manager to run the program within first 3 months
  8. Build a program of 5 OSS Advisors within 3 months of program kick-off, 20 within 12 months
  9. Develop best practices for collaboration between Product Engineering, Advocacy and OSS Advisors to integrate community feedback into product development within first for months of the program.
  10. Focus on the fact that members’ main motivation is rooted in a deep care for their product, community and OSS as such


  • Buy-in for program from stakeholders
  • Program incorporates a Code of Conduct
  • First OSS Advisor accepts award
  • Hiring of the Community Program Manager
  • First product feedback meeting
  • First survey among OSS Advisors
  • First batch of cookies (fair-trade, gluten-free) sent out to OSS Advisors. (Alternatively any other form of showing appreciation in a kind way.)

Risks (and how to mitigate)

Cannibalization with hiring – [company's name] strong growth plan will make us hire the folks as engineers or advocates that could be OSS Advisors and vice versa. On the other hand, searching for OSS Advisors would also provide us with a great sourcing list for potential hires. The profiles don’t necessarily match 100%.

Time and effort investment is too high for maintainers/contributors – we might be rejected for being too time intense or adding another pile of work. The right balance of give and get is still to be found. Also, the program is an award, that is given for past contributions to the community/product, not future ones. If it turns out to be too time intense, reduce your contributions and talk to us. Consider shorter award cycles (6 months) for agility in adapting the program.

Product team sees no value in community feedback – existing mechanisms for feedback through customers may be uncovering all flaws already. In that case, we need to re-evaluate if we selected the right OSS Advisors, and collected the right feedback from the right groups. Also, market insights on usage may be a key deliverable. If all these turn out to be no news, re-considering the feasibility of the program is necessary.

Work with OSS Advisors is not adding any traffic to our sites / not adding any trial subscription increase – It’s a long term approach and we might not see a significant uptake in the program’s first months. Building trust is not even a matter of months, it’s a matter of years.

Level of transparency of the program is too small initially and makes people shy away – We need to be extra clear from the beginning what an OSS Advisor is. We need a public program description, Code of Conduct, terms and conditions. All identification with the program needs to be optional for its members (e.g. a profile on our website should never be a must and also not pressured to create one). Avoid fan / poster child image.

GDPR conformity – For a global program we will bake European General Data Protection Rules (GDPR) into any bit of the program. Each decision for choosing platforms for communication, storing members data and communication has to comply with GDPR rules.

Once the program is announced we can’t make it undone without harm in credibility and authenticity. Announcing a program like this and then not deliver on it would leave a major dent in our standing in the OSS community. To mitigate, we make the first 12 months a pilot phase and are clear on this publicly. Also communicating the pilot nature of the program with founding members/awardees is essential.


Heroes programs list:

Share of Voice

Social Share of Voice: What it Means and How to Get More of It ( Share of voice: a quick guide for marketers - Talkwalker(

OSS reports

Apache Kafka Community:

Previously shared program descriptions

Community Advisors / OSS Advisors Brief: A diverse selection of community representatives from all relevant expertises and OSS projects (qualification also includes a focus on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion) that help [company's name] understand the needs of the groups we interact with but also scales out our own team of advocates. OSS Advisors foremost task is to be a trusted external voice for [company's name]. Includes:

  • Prioritization of communities
  • Relationship building with key persons within prioritized communities
  • Long term building this program
  • Content planning integration
  • Measurement through increase in content contribution, Net Promoter Score among advisors, awareness score in impacted communites, Share of Voice on social platforms Requires:
  • Technical Product Manager commitment to interact with OSS Advisors
  • Budget for platform services, awards, swag, program collaterals
  • Closed beta access (can be under NDA) to new features and services
  • 1 Program Manager to run the program (group of 20 advisors)

Notes for pitch call

OSS advisors (name tbd) - A growing group of influentials in various domains (not only tech) A diverse group of people, ideally a mix of upcoming and established contributors to OSS projects that are a trusted external voice for [company's name]. Measurement through satisfaction surveys, contributed content and contribution in OSS projects


A corporate DevRel program for honoring open source contributions








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