You Cannot Fake SharePoint!

Random IT / Web Design / Graphics Business : “We’ve just got this big client that we have to implement SharePoint at.  Quickly send us a quote and come give us 3 days of training”.

Me : “So how much SharePoint experience does your team have now?”

Random IT / Web Design / Graphics Business : “None, that’s why we quickly need training, and it must be next week please”.

Me : …………..

Random IT / Web Design / Graphics Business : “Oh and when we finish the training, can we get Microsoft accreditation or do you provide certificates or something because we have to prove we’ve got experience to the client.  But please you must send the quote right now because this is urgent, the project starts this week”.

Me : “And what do you need to do at this client?”

Random IT / Web Design / Graphics Business : “Just install SharePoint, build the website and departmental sites, workflows, manage and approve content and things.  But it’s cool, cos we’ve got a great website design already drawn up, now we just need to learn how to get our code into SharePoint.  When can we start the training?”

DelusionalMe : …………..

True story.

Not once, not twice, not three times, not four times….. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve received calls like this!

The mind boggles.

Clients – you need to do your homework on your vendors and learn to ask the right questions.  You cannot fake SharePoint!

There is no way on this green earth that a company with no SharePoint experience is going to make your platform a success!  Just because they are web developers or graphics designers or some other random IT shop, does not mean they have the skill required to implement a technology like SharePoint.  It requires proper strategy and planning or you may as well not use it. And there is absolutely no way that 3 days of any training is going to give anyone the skills they need to make a platform work – I don’t care what size the business is or how smart the delegate is.

Clients, make sure you ask probing questions like :

  • How much SharePoint experience does every member of your team have?
  • How many SharePoint projects have you done?
  • What was the last big SharePoint project you did?
  • What was the biggest stumbling block to the success of that project?
  • What was the biggest technical challenge you faced with that project?
  • How did you handle the adoption of the platform?
  • What was the topology of the farm and what did you base your decisions on in that design?
  • Can you provide a written reference from 3 clients where you have successfully implemented and rolled out SharePoint?
  • What have you found is the biggest challenge in designing effective intranets?
  • What versions of SharePoint have you worked on, which is your favourite version and why?
  • Is what you’re building compatible with the next version of SharePoint so we can upgrade seamlessly?
  • How have you handled the native SharePoint navigation and settings pages in your custom design?
  • What is your strategy for effective SharePoint implementations?
  • Do you have suggestions on how to handle the corporate taxonomy and what effect would this have on SharePoint?
  • Does your company use SharePoint internally?  If so, what for?  If not, why not?
  • Can you recommend an alternate licensing model to the one we have now?
  • What do you recommend as a workflow tool?  Which is the best one and why?
  • How should we handle the migration of documents from file shares?
  • What’s the best way to roll out team sites and why?

I could go on and on and on.  If your vendor cannot answer at least these questions without skipping a beat, then you should looking around for a second opinion. And you better make sure your vendor knows what they’re doing because if they don’t, it’s going to cost you a fortune in rework and rebuild.

“Quick, give me training, I have to roll out SharePoint!” ….. pffffhhh, do me a favour….


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