SharePoint consultants are ten-a-penny, but its important that you find a good one. Consultancy can be a bit of a dirty word. There’s a perception that consultants generally talk a lot of hot air or don’t always understand the organisation they’re working for. A good consultant, however, can be a hugely important find, providing insight into your organisation and industry that you would not have otherwise received.
In the case of SharePoint, consultants must take into account a number of factors when providing guidance. They are advising on what will likely be a significant financial investment so it is critical that they get it right – and that you choose your consultant well. You don’t have to be a SharePoint expert to recognise a good consultant – there are certain facets that will make someone out as a good consultant:
A consultant’s job is to get beneath the skin of an organisation a really understand how it runs before providing informed advice. Any consultant, therefore, should be prolifically inquisitive. Your SharePoint consultant should be asking questions about company industries, markets, size, structure, finances, culture, existing systems and so on. They should also be asking about everything in detail. To advise on a platform that will be used across the organisation and will be central to how the organisation is run, they must must understand the organisation comprehensively.
Once your consultant has a good understanding of your organisation, they can begin to advise on what might make a suitable SharePoint setup / deployment for your organisation – but they should have a cut and dry answer for you. Good SharePoint consultants will be able to advise on different options based on how different strategic approaches that they could envisage the organisation making overall. They will be able to advise on how different SharePoint deployments might support different strategic approaches. Liaison with the senior management and board will give a consultant an understanding of how the organisation expects to move forward, but providing other options gives an organisation more operational flexibility.
It should go without saying that a good consultant will know SharePoint best practice and will be able to advise the organisation appropriately. Best practice is critical to ensure that your SharePoint deployment runs smoothly, securely and to the letter of the law. A consultant who doesn’t know SharePoint best practice as they should or who is happy to cut corners on best practice in the interests of saving money should sound your alarm bells and will cause you problems in the long-term.