Outsourcing SharePoint configuration to 3rd party SharePoint consultants or SharePoint consulting companies is commonplace these days – SharePoint is a pretty broad and complicated platform and you really cannot do it all or know it all, especially if you are a smaller organization. The good thing is – if your organization is looking to outsource SharePoint implementation to a 3rd party – there are plenty of choices out there. Independent SharePoint consultants and SharePoint consulting companies are ready to help. However, once you have a choice, along comes a question of how to pick the right provider of SharePoint consulting services.
In this blog post, I compiled a list of questions you might want to ask perspective SharePoint Consulting Companies/firms or independent SharePoint consultants.
Questions to ask SharePoint Consulting Companies
1. Who will do the work? Will it be subcontracted to other SharePoint consultants or SharePoint firms?
With globalization and virtual world we live in, the reality these days is that projects are contracted and subcontracted. So while you might be signing the agreement with one organization or consultant, it is not necessarily the same party that will execute the project. This might not be important if you are looking for coding/development work, but it might be a crucial factor when you want certain individuals/personality types to interact with your end users directly.
2. What are the SharePoint Consultant’s fee arrangement and payment schedules?
Lots of SharePoint consulting companies tend to work on an hourly fee – which is pretty attractive to consultants, but might be a money drain for you as a client (especially if you are a non-profit or smaller organization). There is no right or wrong here, more of a preference/business practice. Whatever arraignment you agree to – please assure that you also agree to certain schedule/project deliverables.
3. What are the primary skills and key expertise of SharePoint consultants?
The reality is that you cannot be a SharePoint expert in everything. It is such a broad application, it is physically impossible to know it all (no matter what your perspective SharePoint consultants say). Any SharePoint consultant is a subject matter expert in the certain area(s). Some are good in Information Architecture. Others in SharePoint branding. Some are experts in SharePoint workflows. Others – in interfaces to other systems. The bottom line is that you will never find anyone who knows it all. So it really comes down to the problems you are trying to solve. For example, if SharePoint document management is of most importance, pick a SharePoint consultant who has experience in the area.
4. Do the SharePoint consultants, who will be performing work, have experience with “soft” SharePoint implementation features, like SharePoint User Adoption and SharePoint Governance?
It is great to configure SharePoint and make it functional according to requirements you have, but, it is just another piece of technology/application. At the end of the day, SharePoint will need to be used by your employees with a varying level of skills and technical know-how. That’s where “soft” skills such as SharePoint User Adoption and SharePoint Governance come into play. If your SharePoint consultant is an expert in technology, but not capable of assisting or consulting on User Adoption or Governance, your SharePoint implementation will fail, get out of control and will become a center of jokes and finger-pointing within your organization.
5. What is the project implementation methodology your SharePoint consultants are using?
Rome was not built in one day and your SharePoint should not be either. SharePoint Implementation is always a pretty substantial transformation for an organization from change management perspective. Make sure your SharePoint consultant is familiar with modern Project Management methodologies like Waterfall and Agile. It is always best to implement SharePoint in phases, to allow for better user adoption and feedback from the stakeholders.