It is hard to believe, but I have spent the last 15 years of my career with SharePoint. The first half of that journey was with me being a user (consumer) of the application and the other half (from 2013 onward) – as a SharePoint consultant. Back when I worked in the corporate world, most firms I worked for preferred to outsource SharePoint configuration to SharePoint firms. Little did I know that at some point, I would become one of those “SharePoint firms” (well, not a big one, but a one-person shop). Throughout my career, I watched and participated in multiple processes of SharePoint companies’ procurement. As you probably already know yourself, the exercise of finding the best SharePoint consulting company is a project by itself. Thanks to the popularity of Teams, SharePoint Online, and various Office 365 apps, there are plenty of great choices.
In this article, I would like to share my thoughts and tips on finding the best SharePoint Consulting company for your needs. Since I was lucky to be on both sides of the aisle, I happen to have a unique perspective on the process and needs that will hopefully let you result in a good match and partnership.
Define the scope (well!)
Before you start contacting various SharePoint consulting companies, make sure to define your project scope well. The truth of the matter is, every company has its specialty and core skill sets. The Best SharePoint consulting company is not the one that had the biggest profit last year or has a list of famous client names, but the one that specializes in exactly what it is that you need.
For example, do you need a corporate Intranet site(s) built? Are you trying to stand up a Document Management System in SharePoint? Or perhaps you need to conduct some employee training? Different firms specialize in different aspects of SharePoint, so make sure to define exactly what you are looking for to focus on that specific expertise.
Focus on key expertise
Kind of related to above, make sure to zoom in on the core skills of the consulting company or consultant you are planning to work with. SharePoint was always a monster in terms of its capabilities. The reality is, you can’t be an expert in everything. To give you an example. My primary focus and key expertise when it comes to SharePoint are its out of the box capabilities. So if you are looking to create an Intranet, configure metadata, using the native, out of the box features, I am your guy. On the other hand, if you are looking for integration with other systems, custom development, or file migration – these are not my areas of expertise, so I would not be a good fit for those projects. The best SharePoint consulting company is the one that focuses on the key expertise you are looking for.
SharePoint implementation is half the battle. What you always need and must have is Training. When you are trying to procure a SharePoint consulting company, ask them about formal Training after the project is done. You need to be able to support SharePoint yourself going forward without incurring significant additional expenses. So make sure Training is always part of the project hand-off.
All my SharePoint implementations packages have Training built into the scope of work automatically. Without proper user Training – your SharePoint project will fail.
SharePoint or other Microsoft 365 Apps?
One other important thing to remember is that SharePoint is not a standalone application we used to have for many years. It is now part of the Microsoft 365 suite.
Sometimes SharePoint might not be the answer to all your needs and requirements. For example, if you are trying to automate a process of some sort or develop a custom application, you might use SharePoint as a backbone for information management, but the crux of project development will occur in other applications, like Power Automate and Power Apps. In those cases, you would be better off choosing the firm specializing in those applications and not necessarily the ins and outs of SharePoint.
We live in the digital area, where even kids have their own websites and YouTube channels. Make sure to google your future SharePoint consulting companies (prospects). Do they have the staff that has been recognized as Microsoft MVP? Is the firm active in the community, sharing content and their knowledge with others? Are there any reviews from existing clients that you can find?
Implementation or just Training?
The times when you needed to engage an army of consultants and pay them tens of thousands of dollars for SharePoint implementation are over.
The modern SharePoint Online we now have is not the same monster we had on-premises for many years. Previously you had to have Ph.D. in SharePoint to figure that thing out. With modern SharePoint, it does not take a high IQ to create a Team site in SharePoint or Team in Teams and start collaborating. It is far more intuitive and user-friendly than its older brothers.
True, you still need to understand how it works and functions and interacts with all the other apps in Microsoft 365, but trust me, it does not take days, weeks, or months to develop proper information architecture – sometimes, these questions can be answered and addressed in a simple meeting.
What I personally find from my experience is that sometimes it is a far better ROI for you to engage in some user training or 1:1 consulting to get things going before committing to larger projects and engagements.