At some point, SEO and development will cross paths and this is what needs to be addressed. Using SEO resources at checkpoints is like checking your map before a road trip and purposefully leaving the map at home. When you get to the next gas station, you peek at another map to make sure you are on course. In my opinion, the map should be IN THE CAR! - make sure you take the right exits, make sure you don't drive too far out of the way...don't get lost! Having the map in the car can save time, resources and headaches down the road. At the SEOmoz convention I attended in August 2010, someone said, "SEO should not be a process, it should be part of every process." I wish I could drop a link to that person, right <here>, but I can't recall who said that. It's really stuck with me though.
During the process of building, updating or upgrading a website, it's inevitable that the powers that be will decide to include the SEO team with planning, building or implementation phases. WHEN that occurs is the mystery. I've been included in the front end of projects only to be completely surprised by the launch of the site. Not to mention, excuse me but you forgot analytic's code on your site... why did you only do half of what was suggested? ...You seem to have a few major problems as well, I wish I could have seen this before launch!
More than likely though, it goes something more like this- "Hey SEO people, we are pushing these changes live in a few days, do you see any problems?" There are always small issues that's a given, but sometimes, there are severe problems that end up costing the business more resources. Had the SEO team been included earlier in the process, the same result could have been achieved with less resources, frustration and stress.
The perfect integration with business goals, development, marketing and SEO is a moving target and I'm not suggesting it's easy but with the program, it can be easier. Starting with the hiring, you can make sure that everyone involved in the product cycle has basic knowledge of SEO. In today's atmosphere, SEO basic practices should be ingrained in the entire staff. This would also allow the SEO team or person to concentrate and develop strategies for the more complex issues at hand. This will also keep SEO from slipping completely into it's own process.
Include the SEO team/person in development meetings, document trails, lunches & whatever else is behind the curtain. Suggestions and ideas can be injected throughout the entire process. Some SEO strategy can change plans drastically (like navigation) and when big changes are introduced into projects after development, seldom do they make the final cut because now, they will require more time and resources. Ultimately, the final product suffers.
Obviously this is not to include SEO tasks like link building and copy writing but it will make the SEO related tasks more efficient and effective in the future.