May 30, 2014

Initial results of the Drupal Business Survey and what that means for the DrupalCon Amsterdam Business Track

This week we got the results of the Drupal Business Survey. Detailed analysis will be posted over the next few weeks, but in this blog post I wanted to set out the headline findings. I also want to draw initial conclusions to guide people preparing to submit sessions for the DrupalCon Amsterdam Business Track.

The survey comprised 3 questionnaires — one for leaders of Drupal businesses, one for staff, and one for clients. We got the most responses to the leaders survey. Unfortunately there were fewest responses to the client survey. This is the data I’d be most interested in for assessing how we as a community fare at running our businesses, so I’ll look into other ways to gather this feedback more proactively.

I’ll provide more analysis in the coming weeks on my blog

The Initial Findings

The client responses we did get were generally favourable to Drupal businesses, with the only consistently weak area being marketing and promotion. Clients praised Drupal businesses in comparison with other agencies they’ve dealt with as having “Less ego, more agility”, being “less pushy” and having “management teams that understand web development”.

The staff responses were also generally positive. 100% of respondents rated their company as ‘nice to work with’. The weakest area was again marketing and promotion, with sales and pitching close behind. General business management, and project management were only thought to be ‘ok’.

What was interesting was that these findings matched almost exactly to the Leaders survey, showing that those in charge of Drupal businesses have a pretty good awareness of the strong and weak points of their companies.

Interestingly, both the leaders and staff of Drupal businesses complained about clients having ‘unrealistic expectations’, ‘unrealistic budgets’, and even ‘being out of touch with their real needs’. This suggests a need for Drupal agencies to become better at helping clients scope and plan projects during the sales and initial discovery phases.

Guidance For DrupalCon Business Track Sessions

From these initial findings I’ve drawn some very broad conclusions to help give some guidance on the kind of sessions it would be good to see at DrupalCon Europe this autumn.

I’d really like to encourage sessions in these areas:

  • Strategies and tactics for marketing Drupal businesses and their services to take advantage of the opportunities that are coming in this golden age for Drupal - identifying potential clients, contacting them, attracting them to find out more about your business and Drupal, and educating them about the benefits.
  • Techniques and tools for setting up projects for success during the sales and discovery phases - by making sure the project is defined well, everyone shares the same expectations, everyone knows what success will look like, and there’s a much higher chance of the project going well and the client being happy.
  • Good communications during a project so that it continues to run smoothly
  • Good management practice tips and tools for agency-style businesses so that they are stable and able to grow quickly

So - if you run an agency, what do you do in these areas that you should share with other Drupal businesses? If you’re a client, would you like to share your feedback and wish list for Drupal suppliers to follow? if you have experience of agency businesses outside of the Drupal space what can you share from that?

These areas are just guidance, and all submissions are welcome, but these areas will be reviewed particularly favourably as we have identified these needs in the target audience for the business track.

Make your submission

You can submit your session proposal via the DrupalCon Amsterdam website

If you have any questions, I’d be happy to help. Email me at


Thanks go to Janne Kalliola of Exove and Stephanie El-Hajj of the Drupal Association for help in running the business track and feedback on the survey design. Thanks also to Vesa Palmu for feedback on the survey. And of course, thanks to everyone who responded.

Steve Parks, Wunderroot
The DrupalCon Amsterdam Drupal Business Track Lead