SharePoint Experts, Information Architects, Expert Witness

SICG provides a broad array of business and technology consulting from architecture to design to deployment of global systems with a focus on surfacing data in the enterprise. We focus on the "How", not just the possible. Contact me direct: or call 704-873-8846 x704.

Search This Blog

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Getting Ripped off on SharePoint Expertise

I’ve seen it all – or at least I thought. Over the past two weeks alone, I’ve had two new clients come to us to ask us about SharePoint installations. As typical, we offered a quick review of the farm setup, sites, etc. and what we found was shocking.

In both cases, the firms that setup the installations a) used the “SharePoint Wizard” to deploy the farm (which does not work) and b) installed Enterprise deployed the primary site as a SharePoint Team Site (i.e. foundation site), thus cutting out more than half of the features. Unfortunately for both, our corrections have required a complete redeployment – lost time, lost money, lost effort. Sad but true. We often say, pay us now or pay us to fix it later but that’s for another day.
In both cases, the organizations didn’t have any in-house knowledge of SharePoint so were taking their respective ‘consultants’ at their word. Now as much as I’d like to take these ‘consultants’ out into the parking lot for a little chat….

Update: Now three - incredible?
So how do you avoid getting burned?
Alas, there is no magic method but there are a few key questions for any firm:
1)      How many actual installations of SharePoint
2)      What size of user base (does it match yours?)
3)      What kind of farms have they deployed (intranet, internet, extranet, etc.)
4)      How long have they been working with SharePoint (i.e. first client)

There are also three more checks you can do:
Check 1: Look for red flags in their background or CV/Resume of the ‘expert’; a few ‘red flags’ include:

1)      Listing ‘creating sites’ as a SharePoint skill
2)      Enabled/Disabled Features
3)      Created SharePoint Groups
4)      Created custom SharePoint Lists
5)      Created Site Content Types
6)      Managed backup and restore
All of the above are user interface activities – they are not ‘SharePoint Skills’ at the consultant level.
Check 2: Ask a few questions (whether you know the answer or not, you can gauge their knowledge level in how they respond) – these include:
1)      Can they explain their experience with the Enterprise Content Model of SharePoint?
2)      Can they explain master pages and page layouts and how they fit together?
3)      Can they explain the differences between Foundation, Server and Enterprise?
4)      Can they explain the differences between the site types?
5)      Can they explain when to use the Wizard and when not to?
6)      Can they explain what is gained by enabling Publishing in a Foundation site?
7)      Can they explain the difference between Classic and Claims Based Authentication?
Check 3: Explore their background in terms of what you need:
1)      Have they done end-to-end deployments or just portions?
2)      Have they deployed for a similar type firm or type of usage expected?
3)      Have they done any design work within SharePoint such as Branding?
4)      Have they trained anyone in the use of SharePoint and at what level – developer, administrator or end-user?
5)      Can they produce any samples (Screen shots or on-line if possible though on-line difficult for intranets)?
Hopefully the above will help you find the right consultant or firm to help if your organization is looking to deploy SharePoint.
One last suggestion, regardless of which consultant or firm you hire, you should find an independent/3rd party firm that has a known track record to provide you an audit – not to sell anything but simply to double check the work (1 hour or less).
Of course, SICG provides auditing services to address and help you avoid this kind of problem. As a non-invasive review installation/deployment, we make sure you got what you paid for before you sign off.


Jill Rose said...

David, thank you for sharing your insight and advice. Finding a skilled Sharepoint Consultant can be a challenging task and these are excellent screening questions to ask. There are too many people out there that claim knowledge and expertise in this area and don't have it.

SharePoint Engine said...

Sharepoint Consulting is a platform for the most admired companies to work together and pull resources.