Today I had an amazing success... a major change that I've been pushing for three years finally has the buy-in from our development team, and it's scheduled for an upcoming release! You read that right... it took three years!
Particularly when you're in a large organization, change can be difficult and scary to your development team. The more complex and higher volume of revenue the site generates, it can be a large risk and endeavor that the development team takes on, in addition to every other project on their plate.
How did I pull it off without going crazy? It was constant seed planting. At least every six months I brought it up. It's all about timing. You see, it is now causing us issues with search engines, and all of this happened in sync with a project where it made sense to incorporate the change. However, had I not been discussing various options for the past three years, I doubt they would have been prepared to squeeze it into the project scope.
What did I learn so that you don't have to wait three years to get your request in place?
- Gather the problem and all of the issues. Show how it's impacting the site from ranking in search engines. You want to hit with two angles: How their site isn't doing as well as it could and how it's negatively impacting the bottom line.
- Get in front of the project manager and program manager initially - but do it informally. I often drop in and say, "I was thinking about something and was brainstorming an idea, what do you think of..." However, the key people you need to get thinking about the change is your lead developers and/or designers. These are the forward thinkers. They're the one that you need to approve that it won't hurt the new site. Depending on your office protocol, you may need to go through the project manager, so check how it works at your company before diving in.
- Go in with the problem, guide the conversation to the solution you want, but if possible, let them come the conclusions on their own.
- Find allies within the development team - someone that knows about search engines and can help sell the SEO cause. You may not always have this person in your company, but perhaps you can grow someone to become your champion.
If at first you don't succeed, open up Outlook and schedule a reminder to pick it up again in 3-6 months. Technology changes quickly and in that period of time your development team becomes more educated about other ways of doing things. But more importantly, the seeds have been planted. Every time you bring it up for discussion, you plant more seeds. Eventually, they'll blossom into a search engine friendly solution. I can't tell you the number of times I have pitched something and get an outright refusal; however, when I pick it up again 6 months later, it goes through without a hitch.
Hopefully you won't have to wait three years, but if you do, hang in there!