Historically speaking, conventional thought has the relationship between developers and marketers pegged as something akin to the relationship between oil and water. Any number of reasons are given to explain-away the impasse. It’s a cultural issue. The workflows are different. The objectives of the two departments are not aligned. You get the picture.
In this rivalry, developers and marketers are pitted against each other, each vying to have their vision be the banner that the rest of the company marches behind. But is this the best approach for an organization to take? Does it have to be this way? And, if not, how can companies most effectively and successfully facilitate collaboration between marketers and developers?
Silos Are Best Used For Storing Grain
The root of the problem, as well as the starting point for the solution, lies in the fact that most companies have followed “tried and true” business practices that create intentionally siloed departments. Combined with a hesitancy to evolve from outdated, legacy systems and to embrace new technologies and thinking, this leaves many companies with a challenging path forward.
Operating with siloed departments can create a lot of problems in an organization. Poor communication is virtually guaranteed in this style system. Aside from the cultural issues that can be created, the degree to which effective collaboration is possible is virtually nonexistent. This is especially true in cases where technology decisions (or lack thereof) have effectively created “technology” silos on top of the organizational issues.
In these structurally and technologically isolated environments, misalignment with respect to best practices, objectives, and workflow, just to name a few, is par for the course. But some companies still can’t see a path forward to a future where highly collaborative teams are the norm and technology works for everyone.
Solutions Start Internally
Step one is to start tearing down those silos! In most organizations, this probably starts with implementing cultural and structural changes. These realignments can help to unify teams around a shared mission and value system. However, this progress is likely to be temporary without also implementing tech solutions that can foster collaboration. For many companies the cultural and structural pieces, while they may have a lot of moving parts, are the easy changes to make.
The goals and methods are fairly tried and true, and there’s plenty of examples to follow as a roadmap. Addressing the technology piece is not as straightforward for many companies. It can be confusing, intimidating, and perceived as not cost-effective. But by making smart decisions around what technology to use and how it’s integrated, working in a highly collaborative environment can be the norm, not the exception to the rule even between developers and marketers.
Tech Solutions Are Only Solutions When They Work For Everyone
The bottom line when making technology decisions, especially when fostering collaboration is a goal, is this: Technology must have the functionality and capabilities that are needed across multiple teams, and must be designed and implemented in ways where it is actually usable. The most fantastically advanced piece of tech doesn’t do a lot of good if its complexity renders it useless. Similarly, an “idiot-proof” platform that doesn’t meet the needs of your teams is a poor solution.
Coming from a sales and marketing background, I am familiar with the challenges that many marketers face. Creating, editing, and managing content on legacy systems, or with poorly chosen and improperly integrated newer tech, is a tall order for most marketers who lack the degree of knowledge needed to effectively and efficiently navigate these platforms. Marketing teams become reliant on dev teams to fill this gap.
This dependency makes marketing strategies less flexible and less responsive, and ultimately the entire brand suffers. When lagging turnaround times and off-brand work put marketing teams behind the 8-ball, developers often bear the brunt of the blame. Additionally, as SEO and content marketing become increasingly crucial to brand management and lead flow generation, it is imperative that technology decisions can help to fill these needs.
Since I work with primarily developers, I believe that I also have a good window into their world. Building scalable, performant, and flexible infrastructures seems to be the developer’s equivalent of pitching a no-hitter. And, much like a no-hitter, it’s a beautiful thing to behold when done well. I imagine that most pitchers would struggle to perform if, in addition to their pitching duties, they also had to regularly serve as the third-base coach. In all likelihood, both the pitching and the coaching would come in below expectations.
When developers have to balance work for clients with internal, marketing-related work it can create a similar scenario. Time management and workflows suffer, and one can see how easily a rift between marketing and development teams could be created. Developers also worry that choices made around migrating architecture or moving on from a legacy system to address marketing needs may result in a tech stack that doesn’t work with tools they like.
Depending on someone to help you complete a task is not the same as collaborating with someone to accomplish a common goal. Similarly, the traditionally-strained relationship between marketers and developers is not something that most people would describe as an effective partnership. It’s tough to be your best in a strained relationship, and equally hard to see how that relationship will grow and thrive into the future.
At Novvum, we work with clients who are wrestling with these issues every day. And the great news is that solutions are out there!
Headless CMS, Static Site Generators, and How Teams Succeed
Converting to headless CMS and a decoupled architecture that includes a Static Site Generator (SSG) will give all your teams the tools that they need to succeed. There are a number of fantastic SSGs out there including Jekyll, Hugo, Ghost, and Gatsby. Gatsby has been the SSG of choice for developers at Novvum.
Development and content creation are easy enough to give your marketing team the ability to create new pages and site-appropriate content that is easy to edit and publish without involving the development team. Not only does this cut down on time and resource utilization, but your marketing team is able to convey their brand how they want, and to create digital experiences that increase visitor engagement.
Many of these front-end frameworks, like Gatsby, are also fully optimized for SEO. A fully SEO-optimized website will have a higher organic search ranking that ensures pages on your site appear closer to the top of your audience’s search results. This will make it easier for your marketing team to get the right content in front of the right audience.
Converting to headless CMS and a decoupled architecture that includes an SSG is an equally big win for developers. Unlike a traditional web application stack that waits to generate the content until a page is requested by the user, a static site generator builds everything in advance. SSGs like Gatsby dynamically generate all pages as static HTML files with server-side rendering.
A CDN (content delivery network) stores and compiles all of the page content ahead of time, making it instantly available to Googlebot and other search engine crawlers. This tech combination translates to better-performing sites that are lightning-fast. This architecture also lets your developers scale quickly and without capacity issues.
One of the things that developers at Novvum love about the Gatsby architecture are that “out of the box” It will work with your team’s current tech stack and CMS, so they can still use the tools they know and like. In fact, developers have more time to work on code and spend less time maintaining and optimizing it in production because of the combination of tools and tech. It is flexible, feature-rich, and developers can easily add interactive functionality by leveraging the 2500+ plugins or massive ecosystem of themes and starters to build out new pages.
The days of thinking of marketing and development teams as rivals in some sort of internal Hatfield and McCoy feud are ending. Implementing the right tech stack can not only facilitate consistent and effective collaboration between teams but can also give individual teams all the tools they need to bring their organization into the future.