By Cathy Dew
If you are looking for a top-notch SharePoint consulting firm, you probably already recognize that your consultant should be familiar with SharePoint best practices, be communications experts, and have a healthy appetite for learning new technology. However, there are some additional requirements that will truly set a top-notch SharePoint consultant apart from the rest and we’ve identified the skills below that should be part of your selection criteria:
1. Have a Service Delivery Methodology
Successful SharePoint service delivery means understanding, defining, and maintaining business ownership of SharePoint solutions. Similar to any other enterprise system like ERP and CRM solutions, SharePoint implementation needs to follow a methodology to maximize customer engagement and ROI to ensure successful delivery.
Diagnostic, Analysis, Design,Development,Deployment, Operation phases should be part of the methodology used by a SharePoint consultant whether they use an Agile or traditional SDLC approach and framework to deliver the services. The service delivery methodology also needs to be:
- Industry focused
These requirements are important because SharePoint can be tailored for a wide spectrum of customers. From start-up companies trying to use SharePoint for basic collaboration needs, to large multi-national enterprises that need integration, custom development, and governance as part of their requirements -- it’s important to have a consistent approach to service delivery.
Ready to upgrade your SharePoint?
You need the right consultant
2. Understand Microsoft SharePoint “Out of the Box” Features
While custom development is possible in SharePoint, it should be reserved for specific circumstances and only after thorough evaluation of available SharePoint capabilities including Out of the Box features, MS Cloud Applications, SharePoint Designer, and 3rd Party tools. In most cases, SharePoint consultants can leverage existing features of SharePoint to satisfy customer needs. Some of the benefits of using out of the box features are:
- They have been tested by QA professionals
- Less likely to face problems during the upgrade
- Availability of Microsoft Support
- Many knowledge-based articles on the web
Some of the major features that SharePoint offers out of the box include:
- Content Management: File sharing, Office integration, record management, document management, and custom contents and entities
- Social Computing: Enables advanced collaboration through wiki pages, blogs, tagging, forums and Yammer integration.
- Search: Provides enterprise search on documents, contents, items internal or external to SharePoint.
- Business Intelligence: Incorporates Excel services, Visio services and other BI features to visualize online dashboards for end-users.
- Identity Management: Enhances authentication and authorization through internal and external mechanisms
- Branding: Allows using custom logos and themes for your SharePoint portal via easy to use user interface.
3. Be Familiar with SharePoint Designer
Although Microsoft will not release a new version of SharePoint Designer with SharePoint 2016, SharePoint Designer 2013 can still be used to customize and extend SharePoint Server 2016.
SharePoint Designer is a specialized HTML editor and web design program for creating custom workflows for your documents and site contents on SharePoint. It can also pull in external data (line of business data) into SharePoint, and modify the look and feel of your site pages in advanced mode, etc.
Many customer requirements can be achieved using SharePoint Designer, therefore it is important for any SharePoint consultant to understand most of its features when crafting a solution for customers.
4. Understand How to Build and Manage Large Document Libraries
Proper storage of a large number of documents is the end result of a successful SharePoint installation. How you setup your document libraries via the number of libraries, folder structures, meta data used, term store sets – as well as – the configuration of the impacted search features like crawled and managed properties, is critical to how you find your data later when you absolutely need it.
A SharePoint consultant needs to know how to dig into your company culture and combine that with your document categorization needs to come up with a quality short and long-term document storage plan.
5. Understand and integrate other MS Cloud Service
Microsoft is rapidly building an ecosystem of cloud based services that can support your SharePoint and Office 365 environments. Here’s just a short list of included cloud applications that come with most Office 365/SharePoint licenses:
- MS Teams
- MS Power Apps
- MS Flow
- MS Planner
When to use which collaboration tool, when to use MS Flow to assist with document routing, when to support your team and departmental projects with MS Planner – all of these revolve around a SharePoint Team Site and potentially an Office 365 Group site. So many choices, so many options, your SharePoint Consultant can help you identify which tools will help your business productivity and get them put into action by your employees.
6. Knowledge of 3rd Party Tools
A good consultant is always trying to solve problems. Once they understand your requirements they will be thinking how best to achieve the desired results. Good SharePoint consulting firms have the knowledge of a wide range of third party products and can prevent you from having to reinvent the wheel and get to your desired solution faster. Following is a short list of 3rd party tools your consultant should know:
- Nintex: Perfect tool for creating workflows in a drag & drop environment and building custom forms with sophisticated business logic behind it.
- Sharegate: Stylish and easy to use migration tool that helps end-users perform all kinds of data and content migration and simplifies security and permission management in an easy to understand matrix environment.
- AvePoint: Seamless mobility tools integrated with SharePoint providing professional governance and document lifecycle management
7. Capacity to Develop Custom Solutions
When customer requirements cannot be met with out of box features, SharePoint consultants should be aware of several sets of APIs available to create a custom/hybrid solution using the SharePoint framework:
- REST/OData endpoints: To create applications that performs CRUD (Create, Read, Update and Delete) operations on SharePoint data like an Android app integrated to your SharePoint.
- Client Object Model: To develop applications like ASP.NET applications that interact with SharePoint components.
- Server Object Model: To extend almost every SharePoint component including workflows, alerts, Web Parts, search, and Business Connectivity Services (BCS).
These skills and methodologies are critical to the success of every SharePoint implementation and should be a core set of criteria to to schedule a free consultation with our team or call 510-652-7700 today.