Optimizing Risk and Reward in DevRel Initiatives

Developer Relations teams juggle countless activities across content, events, community engagement, and support. With limited resources, how do they determine where to focus for maximum ROI? This article presents a data-driven methodology for evaluating and prioritizing DevRel initiatives based on balancing risk versus potential business value.

The Need for ROI Focus

DevRel teams often struggle to connect their efforts directly to business outcomes due to diffuse activities spread across many developers. However, optimizing ROI should still guide priorities:

  • Building loyalty among key developer personas drives adoption and retention
  • Reducing support costs through self-service frees up engineering resources
  • Attracting new users expands revenue potential from conversions

The challenge is determining which initiatives best balance risk and reward across these objectives quantitatively.

Scoring Model Factors

The proposed model evaluates opportunities on three factors, assigning each a numeric score:

Expected Business Impact

This represents the potential value created if an initiative succeeds, mapped to KPIs like signups, retention, lower support costs. Score on a 1-10 scale based on current benchmarks.


  • Drive 20% increase in conversion rates (8)
  • Reduce onboarding friction to improve retention (7)
  • Lower support volume by 30% via self-service (9)

Inherent Risk Level

This captures the intrinsic uncertainty of whether the initiative will achieve intended outcomes, based on its type. Score from 1 (low risk) to 5 (high risk).


  • Launch online community forums (2)
  • Organize annual developer conference (4)
  • Publish video tutorial series (1)

Mitigation Level

This evaluates whether strategies are in place to manage execution risk. Score from 1 (poorly mitigated) to 5 (well controlled).


  • Recruit technical moderators (4)
  • Sell early bird tickets (3)
  • Multi-phase video rollout (2)

Calculating Adjusted Risk

With numeric scores for each variable, this formula determines an initiative’s risk-adjusted ROI:

Adjusted Risk = Inherent Risk x (10 – Mitigation Level)

Initiatives with higher Potential Value scores can justify higher Inherent Risk, if thoroughly Mitigated. The goal is balancing tradeoffs to minimize Adjusted Risk.

Prioritization Guidelines

Teams can then make informed decisions about where to invest resources based on Adjusted Risk comparisons:

  • Pursue high business value initiatives only with substantive mitigation strategies.
  • Avoid low value initiatives with excessive inherent risks, even if mitigatable.
  • Double down on managing risks for high-value activities, given the upside warrants it.
  • Focus first on quick wins requiring fewer resources with good ROI.

The framework spotlights how mitigation strategies reduce exposure, allowing teams to undertake more ambitious, impactful programs aligned to business priorities.

Continuous Optimization

To ingrain ROI focus, DevRel should:

  • Maintain an inventory of past and proposed initiatives with risk vs. reward scoring
  • Re-evaluate ratings quarterly based on actual outcomes
  • Ensure new initiatives or plans receive a thorough evaluation

This embeds data-driven decision making and resource optimization based on balancing risk and reward tradeoffs. Initiative planning graduates from “gut feel” to become a core DevRel competency.


You now have a data-backed approach to optimizing ROI across your DevRel program by balancing risk and reward. Let us help implement it. Our team can compile your inventory of current and prospective initiatives, walk through scoring to identify high-potential ones, and provide advice on mitigating inherent risks.