What to Look for in a SharePoint Consultant

Posted by Dave Fisher on 07.14.16
Dave Fisher
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Hiring a SharePoint consultant is not as easy as it used to be.

There are more of us now, and each consulting company has its own spin about why they are the best at what they do. Some are highly skilled, business-minded professionals that will deliver an excellent portal for your organization, and others are tech-babbling bozos who will leave you with a clumsy platform that accomplishes none of your goals.

So what criteria should you use when hiring a SharePoint consulting company? Here are a few signs that you’ve found a good one.

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They Want To Know All About You.

Good consultants put as much effort into the planning process as they do with SharePoint development. They know the success of the platform depends on how well they understand your business goals, organizational structure, and workflows.

If they aren’t burning with curiosity about your business from the first meeting onward – that’s a red flag and you should kick them to the curb without lunch.

They Communicate In Terms You Understand.

SharePoint intranets are immensely complicated projects, but that should not impact you in the slightest. You don’t need to know what every line of code does, nor should you care. What’s important is that your teams know how to use the platform to its fullest potential.

The planning and development processes require some back and forth, and you will need to understand a few key components, like SharePoint lists and webparts; however, your consultant should explain everything clearly and succinctly without a lot of tech-babble. If it’s clear from the outset your consultant is incapable of communicating on a business level, you are going to struggle to stay on the same page.

They Talk About The "After-Launch Plan."

The job far from done the instant the intranet goes live. Every project requires some tweaking, as well as training and guidance, and if your consultant does not have an after-launch plan in place, the platform will likely fall way short of expectations.

User buy-in is incredibly important, but it takes time. The process begins by involving employees in the planning stage, and continues long after the intranet melds into the fabric of your corporate culture. After the site goes live, your SharePoint consultant should have a training program in place that will help people understand not only how to use the tools, but also how the tools will make their jobs easier. People need to understand the “why” as well as the “how;” otherwise, you will face a long, uphill battle getting people to embrace your portal.

Custom Work Is Focused On Simplicity And Productivity. 

SharePoint is not an intuitive platform out of the box. Every deployment requires custom development to improve usability and branding, but your consultant should never take their eyes off the original goal of building a simple solution that makes end-users more productive.

In order to maximize the benefits of customization, consultants must have a thorough understanding of the processes running your organization so they can improve them using SharePoint. Likewise, clients should be prepared to embrace new processes that make their work easier and more efficient. For instance, you will no longer rely on email for exchanging and managing certain documents. This is a big adjustment for some clients, but once this change becomes part of the organizational culture you’ll be shocked at how much it cuts down on your inbox clutter.  

Custom development should be laser focused on simplicity and productivity. If you and your consultant aren’t communicating about processes and how customization will make them better, your deployment is likely heading in the wrong direction.

It’s not hard to sort out the good from the bad when it comes to SharePoint consultants. Check your gut when you meet with them and ask yourself: Are they focused on my objectives? Are they asking good questions? Can they refer me to plenty of clients with successful portals? If the answers to these questions are “yes,” you may be at the beginning of a beautiful partnership.

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Topics: SharePoint, Company Intranet, SharePoint Consultant

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