By Cathy Dew
Working with a competent SharePoint expert can go a long way toward ensuring a smooth SharePoint implementation. Companies embarking on an arduous journey of implementing a highly integrated system like SharePoint can ensure the project success by bringing on board SharePoint consultants with the following traits:
1. Never be afraid to ask a question
A SharePoint expert who has implementation experience in the same or similar industry can understand a company's business processes quickly and promptly, deliver relevant direction and address specific pain points. While consultants can often be assigned to a company or situation that they initially know nothing about, part of the consultant’s job is to find out exactly what is going on - to understand the company, and to understand what the client wants. So as part of the business analysis, it is a SharePoint expert’s job to keep an open communication channel with all stakeholders and find out exactly what the customer needs by asking relevant questions and conducting an appropriate analysis of the business and its needs.
2. Conduct proof-of-concept SharePoint sessions
In a business requirements session, if the SharePoint expert talks about a particular SharePoint feature like a site template, or discusses how SharePoint works, the consultant should be able to demo that feature live to the customer and make sure the business requirements align with SharePoint capabilities to help manage the client’s expectations as early as possible.
3. Knowledge of the latest SharePoint technology trends
Because of the velocity with which SharePoint is introducing new features, a major success factor for a SharePoint consultant is to continue learning all the relevant features of Sharepoint, and even explore and implement the latent or hidden features of existing SharePoint versions.
4. Solid understanding of out-of-the-box features
Although custom development in SharePoint is possible, it should only be offered to the customer after going through and reviewing Out of the Box features and SharePoint Designer capabilities and 3rd Party tools. In most cases, SharePoint experts can leverage existing features of SharePoint and satisfy most customers’ 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
5. Custom development capacity
6. Good knowledge of 3rd party tools
A good consultant is always trying to solve problems. Once requirements are understood, they will be thinking of how best to achieve the desired results. There are tools and add-ons that have already been developed by others to solve specific problems and there is little point in reinventing the wheel. Unless specific requirements suggest that would be a better course of action, and assuming proper planning and investigation, third-party tools can quickly help achieve the desired solution. Good SharePoint experts have knowledge of a wide range of third- party products available for SharePoint such as Nintex, Sharegate and AvePoint.
7. Effective client management
With every new project, SharePoint experts need to adapt quickly to the business users they will be working with for the duration of the project. A SharePoint consultant is expected to play a central role, ensuring that a client's business processes are mapped in SharePoint, while at the same time aligning client expectations on what is and is not possible in the system. A SharePoint expert should also be able to simplify and explain complex technical terminology so the client can understand and make important and timely business decisions.
8. Good presentation, communication and correspondence skills
SharePoint experts can spend as much as 60% of a project's time preparing and presenting a business blueprint, conducting training, creating end user training documentation and aligning organizational change management processes. It is imperative that a SharePoint consultant be able to present confidently to a wide range of people, and be able to articulate ideas and concepts clearly and comprehensively.
9. Good documentation skills
Good project documentation skills reap significant benefits when a client needs to review any decisions. If not documented, early decisions have the potential to create confusion. Poor documentation can also cause scope creep.
10. Effective teamwork and mentorship
A successful SharePoint project is much more than delivering software; it's about teamwork and mentorship, where senior and experienced team members can help to develop new SharePoint consultants who could eventually lead or manage a project on their own.
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