Will the Real SharePoint Consultant Please Stand Up?


May I have your attention please? May I have your attention please? Will the real SharePoint consultant please stand up? I repeat, Will the real SharePoint consultant please stand up? We’re going to have a problem here.

May I have your attention please? May I have your attention please? Will the real SharePoint consultant please stand up? I repeat, Will the real SharePoint consultant please stand up? We’re going to have a problem here.

Spot the real SP consultant

My clients have a common complaint when I come in and help them with their existing SharePoint implementation, “The so called SharePoint consultant who helped us roll out SharePoint was no help at all!” You may ask what seems to be the problem, well, some people who call themselves SharePoint consultants are nothing more than a technical person having some Windows administration background who can easily install, configure and deploy SharePoint in a technical environment. And that’s all they do.

So to avoid getting stuck in a SharePoint rut, here are 5 characteristics you should look for when hiring a SharePoint consultant:

  1. Assess the customer’s pain points.
    A reliable consultant will not just come in and install SharePoint for you without understanding your specific organizational needs.

    For example, one of the key questions I ask my customers is “Why do you think you need SharePoint?”. Most of everybody would say “Because they say SharePoint can help improve collaboration and document management.” – that’s precisely true, but I don’t stop there. I continue to poke and investigate how they are currently collaborating and managing documents (primarily using e-mails, network shares and local storage). And then, measure how much productivity is being wasted with the current tools in place. So after the assessment is done, I will make a case along the lines of: “I found that on the average, employees in your organization are wasting 45 minutes a day because current tools in place are not as efficient. SharePoint can greatly improve your organization’s efficiency.

    “Apart from the obvious need, the consultant should not make any assumptions. He or she should identify peripheral organizational requirements such as: usability, standards and legal compliance, budget, process integration or re-engineering, future needs, etc.

  2. Honestly present the bottom line.
    A pragmatic consultant will tell you if you really need Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007.

    Whenever I teach Comprehensive SharePoint Introduction, my students jaws drop when they realize all they need SharePoint for doesn’t cost anything.

    To put things in perspective, SharePoint does not refer to a specific product or technology. Using the phrase “Microsoft SharePoint” is like using the phrase “Microsoft Office”. It refers to the 2 key components which include Windows SharePoint Services (WSS) 3.0 and Microsoft Office SharePoint Server (MOSS) 2007. To distinguish WSS and MOSS, an analogy that I use is comparing SharePoint to a car. What’s the main purpose of a car? To take you from point A to point B, agree? What component of a car is required to fulfill this purpose? You’re right, a car engine.

    With SharePoint, the main purpose is to empower users with document management and team collaboration tools. What’s required to fulfill this purpose is WSS. It is the core “engine” of SharePoint. Without WSS there is no SharePoint. WSS is available for free as long as your organization has proper licensing for Windows 2003 Server or above.

    What about MOSS? It provides extended capabilities to WSS. Going back to the car analogy, we can equip our vehicles with accessories such as GPS, a DVD system, Voice Command, etc., however, these extended features are not required to fulfill the purpose of a car (taking us from point A to point B). If these accessories are not installed, the car will still work. It’s just that having a GPS might enable us to reach our destination faster without getting lost. MOSS extended features include Enterprise search, Personalization, Enterprise Content Management, etc. Unlike WSS, MOSS is not available for free. Licensing can vary and become quite costly.

    What I am finding these days is that organizations are just learning how to drive the SharePoint car. Most of them do not need the extended tools MOSS provides. In the future, once the dust settles and SharePoint usage has hit the critical mass in the organization, then consider leveraging MOSS. The SharePoint consultant you hire should be able to recognize this.

  3. Set specific metrics on ROI.
    An effective consultant should be able to lay out when and what your are gaining from investing in SharePoint.Going back to my example about increasing productivity by using SharePoint, I tell the customer that in three months after SharePoint has been properly implemented, productivity will increase by 45%. Instead of 45 minutes being wasted on the average by each employee, it will drop to 25 minutes.

    45 minutes may not sound a lot too you, but when I looked at the bigger picture, it essentially meant that in a team of 20 people, that is 900 minutes a day. In a 3-month period, that is 54000 minutes or roughly around 38 person days. In addition, how much does this cost? Well, depending on who you’re considering, 45 minutes/day might cost $50/day for a project coordinator. However, it might cost $250/day for a technical contractor. Bottom line is, time and money is not well spent. What if the customer can regain just 20 of those 45 minutes wasted each day? This makes such a great ROI

    SharePoint consultants should help the customer key metrics by prioritizing organizational goals for leveraging SharePoint

  4. Educate customers.
    A knowledgeable consultant should be able to open the eyes of the customers and present better solutions with SharePoint.One of the common needs of customers I have worked with is to migrate a common network storage (aka network share, mapped drive, drive Z:) to SharePoint in order to utilize document management and powerful search capabilities. Almost always, they would request that the folder structure (specially those 10 levels deep) should be maintained. I can understand why they want it this way, they don’t want users to raise hell because their beloved folders within folders are gone.

    I would tell customers that even if it is doable, creating folders within folders in SharePoint is not the best way to benefit from the technology. Apart from explaining the performance issues, I present alternatives such as using custom views and adding categories or more meta data. Lastly, I assure the customer that SharePoint can be tweaked so that visually, to the end user, they can still have the joyous experience of navigating folders within folders within folders.

    SharePoint consultants should be able to weigh the pros and cons of customer needs versus SharePoint capabilities. If current business processes does not support SharePoint’s advantages, the consultant should be able to assist the customer in creating better processes and standards.

  5. Effectively identify user adoption strategies. An experienced consultant should be able to match the organization’s user population with the appropriate tools and training to embrace SharePoint.

    I always hear complaints that SharePoint sucks. However, if I can rephrase that statement, it should be “the implementation of SharePoint sucks”. You see, nothing is wrong with SharePoint. In fact, I think SharePoint is brilliant for its purpose. It is not fair to compare SharePoint with existing tools and products out there because most of the time, you are comparing apples and oranges.The typical problem is, when SharePoint is being implemented, smart consultants fail to engage the needs of the greater population. Who are they? What kind of technical background do they have? How can they leverage SharePoint?

    More often than not, SharePoint implementation means installing SharePoint, hooking it up with existing Microsoft server technologies (Exchange, AD, SQL Server), and then telling the whole company “Here’s SharePoint, use it!”. I guarantee you that some people will just hate it. Help desk will hate it more because they are getting support calls like there is no tomorrow. My suggestion: Less is more. SharePoint is shifting paradigms on how document management and collaboration is being performed. So you can’t roll out every single feature at once. Baby steps. Take the most simple, yet effective tool, provide training and roll it out to the greater population. Introduce other capabilities later on once you get everybody lovin’ SharePoint.

    Remember, the biggest hurdle in rolling out SharePoint is the idea of users having to change their ways. So make sure the SharePoint implementation is worthy of people changing.

    The consultant must be able to draw up a detailed user adoption plan based on the organization’s SharePoint implementation. A good resource would be Microsoft’s GEAR Up.

As Joel Oleson discussed in his presentation about SharePoint Governance during SharePoint Conference 2008, there are six skill sets required to properly roll out SharePoint. So, does your consultant have most of these skills? Or maybe your consultant is just a poser all along?

45 thoughts on “Will the Real SharePoint Consultant Please Stand Up?

  1. Look, Effective strategy only follow by genuine and re putative share point consultancy so just follow the unique one don’t go with another one those are not providing best services.

  2. This is my first time i visit here. I found so many entertaining stuff in your blog, especially its discussion. From the tons of comments on your articles, I guess I am not the only one having all the enjoyment here! Keep up the excellent wor

  3. I continue to poke and investigate how they are currently collaborating and managing documents. I will make a case along the lines of: “I found that on the average, employees in your organization are wasting 35 minutes a day because current tools in place are not as efficient.

  4. Yeah it is true, you need to upgrade your gear to make you more productive and efficient. Time is precious so make use of it effectively.

  5. That’s right.As what most people say “Time is gold”. So there is no need to waste time if we value it properly.96

  6. This is such an interesting post.I’ve enjoyed reading this especially on the tips which should be considered in choosing a SharePoint consultant.It’s thumbs up for me. 96

  7. These kind of post are always informative and I prefer to read quality content so I happy to find many good point here in the post, writing is simply great.

  8. I like all your post.I will keep visiting this blog very often.It is good to see you verbalise from the heart and your clarity on this important subject can be easily observed.

  9. Using a letterhead template will help you design a professional letterhead for your corporate stationery. Professional letterhead templates help ensure that your bleed lines, cut lines and safety area are all properly aligned for printing.

  10. We have been guiding our BAs to work such as this, because there are often several ways to approach a problem that satisfy the underlying business requirement equally well, but only some of which fit naturally right into a SharePoint environment.

  11. what do u mean by vendor
    SharePoint is a product from Microsoft
    it comes in 2 flavors
    WSS is free with W2k3 Server
    MOSS is a product to be licensed. License is bought from Certified partners, retail, volume license etc..

  12. what do u mean by vendor
    SharePoint is a product from Microsoft
    it comes in 2 flavors
    WSS is free with W2k3 Server
    MOSS is a product to be licensed. License is bought from Certified partners, retail, volume license etc..

  13. thanks You sure do know what your’e talking about. Man, this blog is just great! I cant wait to read more of what youv’e got to say. Im really happy that I came across this when I did because I was really starting

  14. what do u mean by the seller SharePoint is a Microsoft product that comes in two variants WSS is free with W2k3 Server MOSS is a product to be licensed. The license was purchased by Certified Partners, retail, volume licensing, etc.

  15. This does not mean or by the seller of SharePoint is a Microsoft product that comes in two flavors WSS is free with W2k3 Server MOSS is a product that is licensed. License is purchased from certified partners, retail, etc. Volume Licensing.

  16. because there are often several ways to approach a problem that meets the business requirements behind as well, but only some of them naturally fall directly into a SharePoint environment.

  17. My clients have a common complaint when I come in and help them in their existing SharePoint deployment, “The so-called SharePoint consultant who helped us deploy SharePoint was no help at all!” You can ask what seems to be the problem,

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  20. It’s really great stuff overall, I just wanted to say thank you. I am looking forward to another great article from your side.

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  22. There such an amazing stuff, I didn’t seen ever before, I am actually searching for this, and I got here only, so thanx buddy.

  23. I will make a case along the lines of: “I found that on the average, employees in your organization are wasting 35 minutes a day because current tools in place are not as efficient.

  24. It is really a great and helpful piece of information. I’m glad that you shared this helpful information with us. Please keep us up to date like this. Thank you for sharing.

  25. I am very glad to learn alot from you this meaningful knowledge. From an article describing your unique way , we can see that you are an approachable , humorous person. Not only that, your article is rich with a lot of useful knowledge and helpful information.

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  28. I want to encourage you to ultimately continue your great posts, have a nice weekend! I am satisfied to locate numerous useful information here in the post. Thank you for sharing….

  29. hmm good but. The expert also utilizes power tools to convey an answer to life without the desire to create specification documents.

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