In today’s business world, the traits of a SharePoint consultant are ever evolving. Microsoft is aggressively updating their Office 365 and SharePoint offerings, making it the top enterprise content management platform in the world. So what does it take to be a top SharePoint consultant these days?
We surveyed our consultants which range from architects, designers, administrators and of course programmers and here are the top 10 traits they came up with.
1) Deep Industry Knowledge
With the list of features and integration points changing almost monthly for SharePoint and Office 365, a SharePoint consultant must be well versed in what is happening with the actual technologies both short term and long term. When talking with your consultant, always ask them about scalability and what they think, professionally, the future holds for what you are working on.
2) Creative Services or Solutions
If you are relying on your SharePoint consultant to provide a technical recommendation on how to actually build what you are looking for, you should make sure this occurs only after everything is written down. After requirements have been vetted and approved, only then should technical recommendations be made. Sometimes a 3rd party application is the best choice, other times SharePoint can do the trick by itself. There is of course the custom programming route which will allow you to do just about anything within the confines or SharePoint, but this should not be the first recommendation made without getting all the requirements first.
3) Creates a Visual Experience
In today’s world, we are increasingly moving towards a mobile, remote workforce. These topics need to be discussed and also demonstrated by your consultant. Can they build landing pages that look good on a phone? What about an electronic form? What can they demo that you can relate to?
4) Forward Thinking
SharePoint and Office 365 are very large platforms. If you company is new to SharePoint or upgrading from an older version, you should have end user and administrator training in place for your users. Don’t forget about operational support as well. Your SharePoint consultant should be addressing these almost from the start of the project to ensure you understand the implications of what is being delivered and how it will fit within your company.
5) Knows Their Audience
We’ve had to communicate with everyone from interns through CEOs. Depending what your role is in the organization, as well as others involved in the project, conversations should be tailored so everyone understands what is going on. Sometimes consultants are too technical and others are too business oriented. Finding a SharePoint consultant who can cater to both is key.
6) Loves Approval
SharePoint and Office 365 can go in so many directions before, during and even after a project is complete. Having the right level of documentation that matches the target audience is paramount. Even more crucial is getting approval on that documentation so as work progresses, there is clear, tangible progress.
7) Has Existing Resources
Over the last 10+ years, SharePoint has evolved drastically. With that, so has coding methods, levels of necessary documentation and even how the overall knowledge base amongst consultant community. Your SharePoint consultant should have a starting point for just about any scenario you ask of them. Sure, it will need to evolve to be specific to your needs, but it is rare that a SharePoint idea is absolutely new since the platform was invented over a decade ago.
8) Mindful of Time and Cost
Over the last 15 years, the average company spends 3.5 years building an intranet according to Neilson Norman. This has gone down to an average of 1.3 years in the past 3 years, but even so many of our clients expect an intranet created somewhere between 1 to 6 months, depending on the size of the company. When the SharePoint consultant is outlining how you want your intranet, or any SharePoint project for that matter, the estimated time and costs should be made very clear so what’s being said and documented matches expectations. For example, the level of effort of adding an image to a SharePoint landing page is drastically different than having visually appealing drill-down metrics that refresh when different events transpire.
9) Knows What Custom Means to You
Pulling it all together of being mindful of costs, time, usability and overall support is a large part of what make a SharePoint consultant good or not. Turning to the technical side of it all, your consultant should know what custom means to you. Do you simply want the fonts to ‘pop’ more? Or are you looking for a heavy, pre-built solution that just lays on top of SharePoint. We tend to find that more customers than not prefer a lighter solution that is tailored to their needs instead of some large, clunky template that is 70% right and the other 30% takes a tremendous amount of effort to change, if even possible.
10) Great at Most, Good at Some
One of the biggest lessons learned over the years as a SharePoint consulting company is it is extremely rare to find someone who is really good at everything needed at SharePoint. Even some people that have numerous certifications are extremely poor at communicating or have the vision needed to take a high level idea through execution. Your SharePoint consultant should be great at some things and likely good at a lot more. That’s why it is important to use a company like eSoftware Associates who has a large list of consultants with varying skill sets to get the job done right!