Dell Zhang wrote a nice post on his excellent blog called “Agile research methodology” where he took the 12 main Agile principles and adapted them to research. I thought this was really interesting and wondered if it could be done with SEO. I took a shot a it. It is to be debated, that’s the whole point of this post. W3C everything is constantly revised and that’s a positive thing.
What is the Agile method?
“Agile is a type of method for getting work done. It’s all about doing valuable work with speed and quality. An Agile team delivers finished work frequently while working at a sustainable pace.” (AgileAdvice)
“An iterative and incremental (evolutionary) approach to software development which is performed in a highly collaborative manner by self-organizing teams within an effective governance framework with “just enough” ceremony that produces high quality software in a cost effective and timely manner which meets the changing needs of its stakeholders”. (AgileModelling)
“It’s about people. It’s about trust. It’s about continual improvement. This is where most implementations of Agile falter: they fail to trust the team. If you can’t build a team you trust to improve themselves; fire yourself. Replace yourself with someone that can.” (Timothy Fitz)
“…close collaboration between the programmer team and business experts; face-to-face communication (as more efficient than written documentation); frequent delivery of new deployable business value; tight, self-organizing teams; and ways to craft the code and the team such that the inevitable requirements churn was not a crisis.” (AgileAlliance)
The list Dell used, with the equivalents for seo:
(Left side of the equation is software dev, right side of the equation is SEO)
Planning Game = Planning campaign
Test Driven Development = Evaluation/Review (analytics, ranking…)
Pair Programming = seo teamwork (interaction over process)
On-Site Customer = client collaboration (working with the client not for the client)
Continuous Integration = Continuous testing / responding to change
Refactoring = Analysing and changing the strategy
Small Releases = small and regular updates
Coding Standards = standardized, sound methodology
Collective Ownership = team responsibility
Simple Design = Simple effective Ideas
System Metaphor = self-organising team
40-Hour Week = 90-Hour Week
Ones I would add that are exactly the same for SEO:
“Projects are built around motivated individuals, who should be trusted”
“Culture that thrives on chaos” – everything is fluid and changes rapidly
“Small number of developers” – too many cooks in the kitchen causes havoc not chaos
I must add (post publishing) a Buddhist teaching that says ”chaos is extremely good news”.
One of the areas of contention with SEO:
“Use senior developers” – I agree that with big projects, senior people need to be the ones who make the decisions. For this to work, the rest of the Agile methodology needs to be used (team integration, etc…). This way the senior SEO’s are deeply involved at all stages of the project. The junior people are of huge importance because they are developing their knowledge, gaining experience and can shed new light on old problems. Ultimately though, nothing replaces experience.
The manager is an active part of the team with his/her fingers in all the pies and the whole team interacts constantly rather than favouring tools and process. These aren’t brilliant due to the chaotic nature of the SEO work.
Another benefit of Agile:
The senior people or the single senior manager (in some cases) has to be involved in the entire project and with all of the people on the project. This high level of interaction means that that manager has to be well versed in al the technologies, techniques and be highly knowledgeable or s/he will sink rapidly. It’s a good way of cleaning the gene pool as it were.
Who is this for?
I don’t know that this has ever been tried in an SEO environment and I don’t know if it can work in the format descibed above, but I do think that a similar approach would benefit a lot of teams both in-house and agency side.
Basecamp is loosely such a tool and I know a lot of SEO places that use it (highly recommended)
Agilo is based on TRAC (wonderful tool) and is for software development exclusively I’d say
Xplanner – “a project planning and tracking tool for eXtreme Programming (XP) teams”
OutSystems – well known provider.