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Nov 17 2021
Nov 17

The Drupal Association welcomes its newly appointed board members to help advance its mission to unite a global open source community to build, secure, and promote Drupal. The Association’s Board of Directors ratified the appointment of four new board members in October, including: Nikhil Deshpande, Rahul Dewan, Nick Veenhof, and Mike Herchel, who was elected for the community-at-large seat. The new board members began their term on 1 November.

“It’s exciting to welcome our four new directors – Nikhil Deshpande, Rahul Dewan, Mike Herchel and Nick Veenhof – who together bring such varied experience and expertise to our strategic work to drive Drupal innovation, foster diverse talent, and support Drupal Makers,” said Audra Martin Merrick, Drupal Association Board Chair. “Governments around the world are utilizing Drupal to serve their communities in amazing ways, and having Nikhil’s voice as a government CTO and open source leader will be invaluable in expanding awareness on what is possible. Rahul brings a terrific entrepreneurial spirit to our board. I know his varied strategy and finance experience, as well as his organizing work in the vibrant Drupal India community will help us continue to drive our strategy forward. Mike’s respected experience on initiatives like Olivero and as a camp organizer is an inspiring model of the different ways of how to be a Drupal Maker, driving innovation and community. We are so lucky to have Nick’s wide experience as a technologist, mentor, and Drupal proponent, as well as his passionate voice and organizer in the European community joining the board at this crucial time in Drupal’s evolution.”

Nick Veenhof photoNick Veenhof is CTO at Dropsolid and is leading the technical and product team. Nick has been involved in the Drupal community for almost 15 years now, but has touched a lot more technologies. He's no stranger to cloud infrastructure and DevOps philosophies. Aside from technology, he tries to be a good coach and mentor by embracing change and to lead by example. He is also advocating Open Source and especially the Open Source project Drupal. Recently, Apache Unomi and Mautic became new Open Source pet peeves for him in order to create the most ambitious Open Digital Experience Platform that ever has existed.

“After all those years trying to fill many roles in the Drupal Community, from contributor, to maintainer, from event organizer to speaking at those events and from being a small sponsor at Drupalcamps to Diamond sponsor at Drupalcon, I was offered this opportunity to give more meaning to my learnings so far,” said Veenhof. “I always very strongly felt that the European Drupal community needed a more vocal voice and a strong need to get these companies united and to start talking to each other and learn from each other. I am hoping to make this a mission to make sure the European market & Drupal community feels connected to the Drupal Association. Openness here is key and that's basically what I've been passionate about ever since I know how much I loved computers and the web. Time will tell how this passion will translate in actionables in the board!

Rahul Dewan photoRahul Dewan is an entrepreneur, open source and agile evangelist, blogger, green activist and yoga/meditation practitioner. Rahul completed his B.Tech in Computer Sciences and worked for a few years in various companies before founding Srijan Technologies in 2002. Srijan is a global Digital Transformation consulting and engineering company that employs ~500 people and does business in 6-8 countries around the world. 

He continues to be the Global CEO (Founder & Managing Director) of Srijan, building a ‘great’ company that is loved by customers as well as its employees and shareholders. 

Dewan said, “Drupal has played a critical role in helping me get to where I am today as an entrepreneur and founder of a successful mid-sized global software services firm. While I have been at the forefront of building the Drupal community in India (specifically in Delhi and north India) since 2011, being part of the Drupal Association board I thought would give me another opportunity to give back to Drupal in many more meaningful ways.”

Nikhil Deshpande photoNikhil J. Deshpande is Chief Digital Officer for the state of Georgia. He heads the Office of Digital Services (DSGa) under the Georgia Technology Authority. Nikhil envisioned and led Georgia’s user-centric digital transition to an enterprise open-source web publishing system, GovHub. Under his direction, Georgia became the first state in the United States to use enterprise Drupal and meet the special needs of constituents with a range of disabilities affecting vision, hearing, motion, and cognition, making GovHub Section 508 and WCAG compliant. 

Nikhil strongly advocated and set the framework for the use of social media for Georgia, back when using social media for the government was not common. He established a presence for the state on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter to quickly address constituents’ questions and concerns. Prior to his career in digital government, Nikhil worked in advertising and digital media. 

“As a Drupal Association board member, I hope to reach out to more state and local governments to educate about Drupal and its advantages,” said Deshpande. “As a large organization partnering with Drupal agencies, I am excited to consult, assist, and help other organizations strategize from procurement to maintenance.”

The newly-elected members will join the following Association board members, continuing their service in the upcoming term: 

  • Dries Buytaert, Founding Director
  • Audra Martin-Merrick, Chair
  • Baddý Sonja Breidert, Treasurer
  • Ryan Szrama, Secretary
  • Grace Francisco
  • Owen Lansbury
  • Lo Li
  • Pedro Cambra Fernandez, At-Large
  • Tiffany Farriss

Finally, the Drupal Association extends a thank you to the board members completing their terms this year – Luma Dahlbacka, Michel van Velde, Leslie Glynn, and Vishal Mehrotra. These leaders have made such an impact during their time on the board, and the Drupal Association could not be more thankful for their service and diverse talents! 

About Drupal and the Drupal Association

Drupal is the open source digital experience platform utilized by millions of people and organizations around the world, made possible by a community of 100,000-plus contributors and enabling more than 1.3 million users on Drupal.org. The Drupal Association is the non-profit organization focused on accelerating Drupal, fostering the growth of the Drupal community, and supporting the Project’s vision to create a safe, secure, and open web for everyone.

Oct 29 2021
Oct 29

Posted on behalf of One Shoe and Exove

What are the thoughts of Drupal Business leaders about 2021? For the sixth consecutive time, Drupal agencies One Shoe and Exove, together with the Drupal Association, took a deep dive into how Drupal business leaders experience the current state of Drupal business. We are still living in a time where there is constant change in our society. Year two of the pandemic has seen significant and most likely long-term growth in Drupal business for the second year in a row. Now it is time to look forward in order to see what we can do to keep this growth going for years to come.

Characteristics of the participants

77 people participated in this year’s edition of the Drupal Business Survey. 61,1% of the participants have a CEO/CTO/COO role in their company and 20,8% of the respondents are founders.

A majority of the Drupal-centric businesses that participated in the survey have relevant business in Europe (61,1%) and North America (57,2%). The rest are (also) operational in:

  • South America (6,5%)
  • Australia (6,5%)
  • Asia (5,2%)
  • Africa (2,6%)
  • The Middle East (3,9%)


A big part of this year’s respondents run a digital agency (42,9%), followed by consulting agencies (19,5%) and software companies (18,2%) respectively.

Looking at the chart below, it is clear that small and mid-sized companies are well represented in this year’s survey. While the Drupal Business Survey does see quite a growth in the number of companies having 51-100 employees compared to last year, we also see a significant dip in the number of companies that have 101-500 employees this year. The reason for this change is hard to pinpoint and could very well be a coincidence in the composition of participants. Since Drupal business is doing very well in 2021, lay-offs are highly unlikely and not mentioned amongst the respondents in the survey.

Growth is continuing during and most likely after the pandemic

As the title of this article and last year’s survey showed, Drupal business is doing very well during the pandemic. Based on The Drupal Business Survey, we are happy to note that this year is no different in that regard. When asked what has been the biggest success during the last 12 months, 36% of participants said that their business grew. One respondent says in the survey: ”We have landed some large stable accounts across a wide spectrum of verticals giving us stability.” and “We eclipsed our targeted growth”. suggesting that this growth is bigger than usual and also looks like it is not a short-term ordeal.

Quite interesting is the positive change in pipeline development as seen in the graphic below:

This major increase in business and deal size is possibly happening because of the way clients have been forced into the digital space more in the past two years. As one participant states: “Digitalization is speeding up, and the demand for services like ours is increasing”. By looking at the numbers, this may certainly be the case. This is also reflected in the participants’ expectations for the next 12 months.

Compared to last year’s survey, the outlook on the pipeline expectation is a lot more positive.

How to sustain growth in a post-pandemic landscape

The current situation of Drupal business is very strong. But with restrictions being lifted in most countries, things could change once more. How do we make sure to sustain the growth that we achieved in the past 12 months?

1. Pricing

To sustain growth, good margins on Drupal-related services are needed. That is why in the coming period, Drupal agencies need to upsell their services and Drupal itself. It is clear that for a lot of organizations, the need for digitization took a big leap in priority. This means that there are plenty of projects waiting to be picked up. It is essential that we are engaging in projects where Drupal has a good fit for customer needs in order to price projects with healthy margins.

2. Salaries

Growing your business means expanding your workforce. As you will read in this article and what you probably experienced first hand this year, is that Drupal talent is scarce. If you want to attract ample talent to take on the increased workload, you need to offer competitive salaries. Stagnating your growth in your workforce will lead to an overload of work and a halt in growth.

3. Being able to handle too much work

If you however still find yourself in a situation where you can no longer deal with the amount of work, don’t hesitate to act accordingly. You can easily decrease the amount of work without your revenue stream taking a hit by raising the prices of your Drupal services. This will of course attract fewer clients, but the clients that will request your services will pay more.

Most popular Drupal industries

Drupal business is thriving in 2021. But what industries are the most lucrative for the Drupal companies? Each year the Drupal Business Survey asks participants in which industries their company operates. This is the top 10 of 2021:

The most popular industry for Drupal projects is the Charities and Non-profit sector with 68,8% of the Drupal companies having clients from this sector. This is a big change from last year, where the Charities and Non-profit sector was served by only 55.4% of the respondents.

The runners-up are Education (59,7%) and Healthcare and Medicine (51,9%) finishing our top three.

While serving the Charities and Non-profit sector is a noble effort, it should be noted that this sector focuses heavily on reducing operating costs to ensure most of the money flowing to the charitable or non-profit cause. Drupal can, of course, help them to reduce costs at other areas of their operations – but at the end of the day also Drupal agency costs will be on the line.

The Education sector and Government & Public Administration – fourth most popular – are known for investing heavily in digitalization, especially now due to pandemic and public subsidies given to digital transformation. Prices in these sectors are typically lower than in private sectors. This is however balanced with long contracts, a steady flow of work, and certainty that the invoices are paid.

Besides the top industry being different from last year’s edition, we do see a significant drop in the Media sector. This is a trend that requires attention because this is an industry that is usually good for some interesting contracts.

Promising industries

This year, the Drupal Business Survey also asked participants what industries they think are the most promising moving forward. This is what they had to say:

The answers to this question are in line with the current most popular industries except for one major difference. The current number one, Non-Profit, only scores 5% of the answers here. This might be due to the high number of companies already working on it, or low-profit expectations. Another curious thing is that most people (19%) do not see any particular industry standing out. People elaborate with: “I think this is more a question of the size of projects not of their industry.” and “Drupal is pretty ubiquitous these days.” It is true that Drupal can be used in all industries, as all of them require communication platforms, and in smaller markets companies cannot be industry-specific. Going forward, industry focus is relevant to keep Drupal on the growth trajectory, as the harder to penetrate industries require attentive work within the industry to gain an understanding of the business and references to win new clients.

Lack of Drupal talent is an ongoing struggle

Like we mentioned above, the lack of Drupal talent is still one of the biggest challenges the Drupal business community is facing. When asked what the biggest challenges have been in the past 12 months, 27% claimed that recruiting has been their main concern. “We've been on a growth path so it feels like we're forever recruiting” clearly states the case at hand and what this lack of talent means for the growth of Drupal businesses.

Hardships in finding and hiring Drupal talent has been an ongoing theme in the past Drupal Business Surveys. The last 12 months have also shown us a new challenge in recruitment: employee churn.

Employee churn fueled by the pandemic

As one participant states: "Several long-term staff members have been enticed by other job offers. This appears to be a global issue of staff re-assessing their personal priorities.” and “It's getting harder and harder to find and retain talent”. Looking at these answers, it seems that the pandemic has triggered people to rethink their situations and values, and take actions. For Drupal companies, it perhaps broke the normal cycle of daily work and started a period of employee churn.

Beware of the vicious cycle

The danger of an understaffed workforce can be the start of a vicious cycle that is tough to break. By not having a big enough workforce in a growing company, there will be too much work per individual. This overload in work, combined with the toll the pandemic took on people, could cause more people to develop mental health issues and burn-outs – a concern among 8% of the survey’s participants. This will leave you with an even smaller workforce thus the cycle begins anew.

Take good care of your employees

Based on the survey findings, a priority going forward is to invest properly in your workforce. The companies should do their utmost to make sure that their staff is healthy, happy, feel safe, and can handle their workload. This will help with stability, make it more attractive for new hires to stay and will prevent a lot of concerns cascading through your organization down the line. One participant stated that “Give raises through the pandemic.” has been their biggest success as it lays a great foundation for stability.

Challenges regarding Drupal’s popularity

One thing that stood out to us while viewing this year’s results was the number of participants being worried about Drupal’s popularity decreasing in the coming 12 months. When asked: “What are you most worried about regarding Drupal business in the coming year?”, 28% responded that Drupal’s popularity decreasing is their biggest worry. Leaving 'Nothing' (23%) and ‘Recruitment’ (19%) as a respective 2nd and 3rd place.

The Drupal Business Survey dove deeper into the major reasons, and we found out that the competition from cloud CMS platforms is a big factor. “Competing products and content as a service CMS platforms are slowly gaining ground and eating into areas where Drupal was traditionally dominant such as sites/platforms that needed more than basic customization.” and “Clients currently on Drupal 7 choosing a different platform rather than migrating to Drupal 9” are clearly showing how people experience the current perception on Drupal in their day-to-day activities.

How to overcome these challenges

Drupal is naturally still a very strong option in a lot of situations, and it has its own edges, such as high flexibility and configurability to cope in different situations. So, it is up to Drupal business owners to make sure we play to Drupal’s strengths and market Drupal in a way that attracts the best kind of projects. The SaaS CMS platforms are getting better and are attractive to a lot of people, and their development should be followed closely to maintain Drupal’s competitive edge. We need to make sure that we are not competing with these new platforms – or WordPress for that matter – in fields where Drupal has additional challenges to overcome. It is also extremely crucial to compete with value and not with prices, as the race to the bottom will erode companies’ ability to develop themselves and their offering further.

That is why it is very important to take a close look at what the client is looking after, and check whether Drupal would be a good fit. It is also good to know whether people are enticed by the open-source ecosystem or would rather work with something else.

Reasons for clients to (not) choose Drupal

What makes clients pick Drupal? The Drupal Business Survey is happy to report that ‘having used Drupal before’ is no longer the number one reason for working with it. This means that people have other motives to choose Drupal and it’s not just out of habit. Drupal being open source is the number one reason with 63,6%. Another great development is the fact that more companies use Drupal because it is the best fit for their business requirements, and that it is no longer picked because of low costs. This again plays well into the narrative of upselling your services and Drupal to the right organizations.

The main reasons for clients not choosing Drupal are still playing a part in the well-known points of improvement. The top three reasons are:

  1. Price. Prices can increase significantly compared to competitors because Drupal is on the higher end and more time-consuming to develop. As one respondent said “Prizes and the amount of necessary efforts to drive drupal projects.”
  2. Inferior UX. Competitors like WordPress and SaaS CMSes are seen as a lot more user-friendly.
  3. Maintenance costs. Again a cost-related challenge where maintaining a Drupal site is usually more expensive than with its competitors.

It is important to know why companies choose Drupal for projects and why they choose other CMSes. With this knowledge, it is possible to reassess Drupal’s position in the market and adjust the proposition if needed.

Contribution

Drupal’s strength has always been an active development community that builds the product further. Drupal companies play a major role in the contribution, as they pay the salaries for most of the people contributing back to the platform.

The Drupal Business Survey researched how and why companies contribute. The diagram below shows the amount of companies contributing to the certain facets of the project.

Almost all companies (80-85%) contribute documentation and code changes, and around half of them help to fund the community with donations and sponsoring events. The share of companies contributing has stayed roughly the same compared to the previous year. Major drops are in organizing events, which is natural due to pandemic, and donations, which is explained by a bigger funding drive that took place in spring 2020.

The main reason for not contributing is lack of time, mentioned by several companies that do not give back to the community. This resonates well with the overall situation with finding and hiring Drupal talent.

Fortunately, these companies are a small minority and the company support towards open source Drupal project continues to stay on a high level.

Conclusion

As said multiple times already, Drupal business is at a high. But it is now up to all of us to keep it that way. Pick your learnings from this past year and make sure you market your services and Drupal to the right organizations. This will help you increase your pricing, keep a close eye on your workload and attract more talent with interesting salaries.

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