SharePoint Knowledge Base

Jun 21
What Makes A Great SharePoint Consultant?

Many companies have SharePoint or Office 365 and realize that they're not getting full value from it. Often after some period of time they realize they are just getting more sprawl and they need a SharePoint consultant. Finding one that is actually good can be a challenge. Many technology companies have added SharePoint as one of their services or they have a multilayered marketing team that makes them sound great but the backend people are new to the company and just learning SharePoint.

Here are some of the traits to look for when you're shopping for SharePoint consultant.

Are they competent?
This is pretty easy to establish by looking at their relationship with Microsoft. A Microsoft certified SharePoint partner means they have made a significant investment in training, and acquiring SharePoint certifications.

Do they know your industry?
Many industries have generalized needs. And of course many have very specific needs that have a set of industry standards and industry related jargon. If they have worked for similar companies that can save a great deal of time by not having to train them about your industry.

Will they be nice people to work with?
Okay let's say you are confident they know your industry but that doesn't mean you will like working with them. You don't really get to know anyone until you have a conflict. Even great SharePoint consultants have situations that require the experience and wisdom to resolve conflicts so that it's win-win for both sides. Ask about how they have managed projects that went "sideways".

Expect honesty without conflict of interests

Will they suggest a custom solution when all you need is training? Consultants earn trust over time when they put their clients' needs first, and when they admit they need to research or test something. There is a trust relationship with a consultant, and our team understands well our clients don't always understand everything but they trust us and we take that responsibility with respect. We are the first to admit when we have made a mistake. Will the consultant make money by suggesting 3rd party tools? Do they get a fee from vendors? This is a tough one as Microsoft gives annual fees to its partners that refer client to O365. With honesty comes a relationship that can last for years and will benefit both the client and consultant which is a win-win scenario.

Can they keep the engagement focused to your challenge and not conflate it?

Recall those consumer reports tests where they loosen a cars distributor cap on purpose and take it to 10 garages for an estimate? Some garages will say that you need a new motor while the honest garages will fix the cap and say "no charge". We suggest look for SharePoint consultants like the honest garages. Ask them something like "is there an easy way to just drag all my files in my file shares into SharePoint" and see what they tell you. Content management is an area where it can be extremely easy for a consultant to take advantage of a client.

They know SharePoint technologies on an expert level

When someone asks for a fix to a problem they need to know if SharePoint can or can't do it. If it can't – how close can it come? How much closer can 3rd party apps take it? This is where a lot of developers run into trouble. They've spent years learning how to code and they haven't learned how much SharePoint can really do or how evolved the apps have become. Being able to provide a client with all of these details will really set you apart from other consultants. It comes back to being honest. Many products lie about what they can actually do so when a consultant tells the client the exact limitations of SharePoint it can be very refreshing for the client and let them know that you're honest and professional.

Be a great explainer so your team understands the big picture

Look for a consultant that can share information without over complicating it. Albert Einstein said "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough". Many technology areas are complex but a good consultant should be able to explain it. You would expect that from your brain surgeon right? And SharePoint isn't brain surgery.

Ask about a phased approach to implementing features

SharePoint has a lot of technologies under the hood. In fact you could say that Microsoft took every product that they couldn't sell independently and bundled it into SharePoint. That's how FAST search and PerformancePoint merged into SharePoint. A good consultant will suggest phase in features based on SMART goals and take a long term roadmap perspective. SimpleSharePoint provides SharePoint managed services so that we can help you achieve your goals at the right pace. A consultant that is just looking to pad an engagement will suggest let's rip the Band-Aid off fast and throw it all at people so it will be wonderful (but that doesn't often work).


We love helping with SharePoint and it's all we do so feel free to contact us!

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