3 ways to involve your community to improve your programs

As a DevRel project manager, program manager, community manager, etc. you might be a team of one, and there’s only so much one person can do. Getting a community program off the ground is hard enough, but how can you find ways to improve it when you are flying solo?

I am my team’s program manager and I’m lucky enough to have colleagues who oversee our various programs such as our Champion Program, Camunda meet-ups, Educational Licenses Program, and more. I collaborate with my coworkers on these programs but I also “own” our Camunda for Common Good program, which is dedicated to assisting nonprofit organizations who could benefit from having free access to our enterprise products. As this is the program I am most familiar with, I will be focusing on it in this blogpost, but everything I say can be used for any type of community program. 

The Camunda for Common Good Program

Some background information on the Camunda for Common Good program, for those who may be unfamiliar: Stemming from Camunda’s philanthropic core, we had the idea to create a program dedicated to helping those bettering the world in a variety of ways. The COVID-19 pandemic jump started this program with the Covid Relief packages and over the course of 2020 evolved into the Camunda for Common Good program. At the end of 2021, I did an audit of the program with the goal of finding ways to improve it. I ended up identifying the most common hurdles our nonprofits were facing and since then have been focused on removing or reducing those hurdles as much as possible while also offering better support to the organizations currently enrolled  in the program. Eventually, I realized that as much as I love this program, I am only one person and I don’t have all the answers. I started looking to my team, and beyond, to find ways to make improvements. 

Make them aware

This first step is always awareness. Making sure your community knows about your program is where to start. I spoke about the Camunda for Common Good program at our Camunda Community Summit, our annual conference for Camunda Developers,  in April of this year. Other ways to increase awareness in your community is having meet-up organizers speak or post about it in their meet-ups/meet-up groups. If you have a Champion program, ensure they know about it and know of ways to get involved. They are a wonderful resource for finding connections you wouldn’t otherwise. For example, one of our Champions hears about the Camunda for Common Good program which he finds interesting but doesn’t have time to engage with at the moment. He then learns of a coworker who is passionate about nonprofit volunteerism and the Champion initiates an introduction between you and the coworker so they can get involved. Turn your Champions into advocates for not only your product but your various community programs as well! 

Engage internally and externally 

Engaging folks in your community programs can take on many different shapes. For example, when I spoke at the Camunda Community Summit earlier this year, I mentioned ways for community members to get involved. Don’t forget to engage with your internal community as well. Your coworkers may have many wonderful ideas and insights that they would love to share if they knew how. I led a workshop at our company retreat in June and used it as a forum to discuss ways to improve the Camunda for Common Good program. I had two hours of wonderful discussions with folks outside of my DevRel team such as Corporate Communications, Product Marketing, Revenue Operations, Customer Success Managers, Consultants, and more! It was eye-opening to hear all of the different perspectives and angles to approach things that I’d never considered. Some of these ideas will be implemented in my next program update!

Enable participation 

The last step is to enable your community, internal and external, to participate in the program. I routinely ask if any of my coworkers, company-wide, are interested in dedicating some time to helping our nonprofits. Asking at meet-ups or in your community Slack is also a great way to find volunteers. If you run a Champion program, make sure your coworkers know about it so they can bring to your attention any community members they engage with that you may not know about. 

Do you run some of your company’s community programs? What are ways you leverage your community and/or coworkers to improve it? And speaking of enablement, if you know of any nonprofits or NGOs who could benefit from better process automation, you can let me know or have them apply here!

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