Engineering Archetypes, SEO Triad Team Structure, SEO & Engineering Principles
3-2-1 Mondays - Edition #5
Welcome to the 3-2-1 Monday newsletter.
Every Monday morning, start your week with the following:
💡 3 short ideas about working with devs and product teams.
📰 Two articles to explore to help be more effective with product and dev teams.
❓ One question for you to think about this week while working.
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💡 3 Short Ideas
Short ideas on how to improve working with devs and product teams.
1) Understand the roles in a tech team
Everyone is told to approach the development team to get tickets implemented.
However, during my time as a Product Manager, I noticed different archetypes with specific responsibilities within the team. If you approach the right one at the right time, then you can get sh*t done.
These three archetypes are:
💼 Managers - Usually the CTO, VP of Product or Head of Product, these senior members of the team signed off on strategies, roadmaps and initiatives for the team to work on.
📅 Schedulers - Usually Product Managers, Project Managers or Product Owners, these team members own a roadmap, manage the backlog and prioritise the week-to-week workflow of the dev team.
👩💻 Owners - Usually developers or designers doing the work, these team members can provide deep technical knowledge of the system, execute the work and provide feedback on feasibility.
As SEO professionals working in a product and engineering team, we need to recognise that each team member has a specific role and responsibility.
❌ Sign-off on strategy - If we try to get the developers (owners) to sign off on an SEO strategy, we will be wasting our time. The developer can’t sign off on a large SEO strategy project, but they can provide feedback on its feasibility.
🎟️ SEO tickets deprioritised - If there is a problem with SEO tickets being deprioritised in the Jira backlog, then again, we shouldn’t be bothering the developers doing the work. Instead, we should be approaching the product manager or project manager (schedulers) to understand the blockage and how we can get tickets prioritised.
💔 SEO Ticket Discovery - If you need to make sure the contents of a ticket are understood, you shouldn’t just speak to a PM or PO (schedulers), instead you should make sure you actually speak to the developer (owner) before they start doing the work.
Learning to spot these archetypes, and their responsibilities within the team can help you get SEO projects signed off, tickets implemented and get things moving when they inevitably get stuck.
💼 Managers - Approach senior management when you need strategies, roadmaps and budgets signed off to get the team to work on your initiatives.
📅 Schedulers - Approach product managers, project managers or product owners when you need to break down your SEO roadmaps into realistic tickets that actually get scheduled to be implemented.
👩💻 Owners - Approach developers to make sure your SEO strategies are feasible, to make sure they understand your tickets and to help you better understand the system they have built.
2) SEO Triad Team Structure
Getting SEOs and developers to work together can be difficult, especially in siloed teams.
How can work improve how these two teams communicate and work together?
Well, this is a problem that isn’t just isolated to SEO. Many product-led companies face issues getting product and engineering teams to communicate more effectively.
A method that has become more popular in improving the communication structure between product and engineering teams is the triad team structure.
What is the triad team structure?
A triad is a multi-skilled temporary mini-leadership team that acts as a problem-solving unit within a project. It usually comprises representatives from product, engineering and design/UX.
Successful companies like Atlassian and LaunchDarkly use it to create effective teams within projects.
As a Product Manager, I used this method when working alongside tech, and UX leads to deliver complex enterprise-level projects at DeepCrawl.
Now as an SEO PM, I use the same triad team structure to work with developers and designs to build SEO features for clients.
This way of working needs to be signed off by the senior leadership team, but once it’s signed off, it works by the three senior members of the team (SEO, dev, design) continuously syncing throughout the life-cycle of a project.
The triad team structure allows teams to work independently and quickly make decisions in the meeting.
The benefits of forming triads around SEO projects can help:
💡 Turn ideas into reality Involving team members from different disciplines early on helps to connect SEO ideas to development reality.
📆 Create realistic release plans - The conversation around your idea can help quickly highlight the size of the project, and help to break it down into smaller chunks which the development team can easily release.
🧠 Build shared understanding - Working together helps build a shared mental model of what you want to be implemented and makes the team feel like they have equal shared ownership of the project.
I’ve written in more detail about the triad team structure if you want to learn more 👇.
3) SEO & Engineering Principles
Why can certain teams get sh*t done, but others can’t?
Well, one key difference might be the product and engineering teams have created a blueprint for how they work effectively together.
Building a website or product is a series of decisions which are based on context and data. In the beginning, these decisions are based on instinct and what feels right at the time.
As teams grow there needs to be a structured way of helping the team understand how to make the right decisions.
This structured belief system to make consistent decisions are known as principles.
A set of accessible and defined principles help to:
🎉Define success - Allow teams to understand what success looks like that everyone can try and work towards.
🗣️ Develop a common language - Allows teams to speak the same language when working together.
❌ Avoid mistakes - Helps the team avoid repeating past mistakes.
What is fascinating is that there aren’t any shared principles for making decisions between the SEO and engineering teams.
I’ve worked with development teams on a day-to-day basis, both as an SEO and a Product Manager. I've built an intuition and gut feeling on how to approach technical projects based on my experience with development teams.
Although this intuition helps me work with technical teams like any concept or idea, it isn’t doing much floating around inside my head.
So, I created a set of principles that provides a blueprint for how SEOs can work with development and product teams.
I call this decision-making blueprint SEO & Engineering Principles.
There are 9 principles which I use to effectively work with development and product teams:
👤 The top priority is to solve user problems
📈 The team must have a clear definition of success
🏉 The best results come from small squads
📽️ Teams must work closely together on a project
🗣️ Effective communication comes from a shared understanding
🤏 Teams work in small batches
🚗 Simplicity helps to prioritise work
👀 Continuous attention to SEO code quality helps to reduce rework
🔄 Feedback loops help to improve how teams work together
I’ve written in more detail about each of these SEO & Engineering principles 👇
📰 2 Articles to Explore
Articles to explore to help be more effective with product and dev teams.
by Grant Hunter
“Involve your design and development teams in the product management process. Collaborate with them and provide the context they need to truly understand the wants and needs of personas you are targeting. The context to deliver a solution that resonates with the customer.”
by the Skyscanner engineering team
“The principles below give us the framework to call out what we believe are the foundational elements that ground us, allow us to improve and allow us to iterate and grow. Autonomy without alignment and accountability is chaos; the principles strengthen the aspects related to alignment and accountability.”
❓ 1 Question For You
A question for you to think about this week while working.
Do you have a documentated and agreed set of SEO & Engineering principles when working with product and engineering teams?
Do you have trouble getting SEO projects executed?
How did I do this week?
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Enjoy the rest of your week 😎.