SharePoint has been around in one form or another for over two decades so there is a huge amount of collective expertise and experience that has been built up. That’s good news if you are seeking external help and advice for your SharePoint project – there are a wide range of SharePoint consultancies to choose from.
These include everything from huge global consulting firms, smaller boutique specialist consulting firms, to solo consultant and everything in between. But this wide choice can present a problem if you’re looking for a new SharePoint consultancy to work, and it can be hard knowing where to start.
In this post we’re going to explore what to look for in a good SharePoint consultancy. Of course, if you are looking for one, we’d love it to be us, so please do have an explore of our site to learn about our services and experience. But whoever you do choose, it’s important to make sure you pick a good consultancy for your project with an excellent understanding of SharePoint and a solid track record.
Of course, pricing will also be an important factor in determining the right consultancy that fits your needs, but there are also several other important factors to consider. Let’s explore eight key elements to look for in a good SharePoint consultancy.
1. Technical expertise
A great SharePoint consultancy needs to have excellent technical SharePoint knowledge. SharePoint is a complicated platform that is also highly configurable, and where decisions about the set-up and structure can have an impact on the user experience and future roadmap. Excellent technical expertise needs to cover areas such as SharePoint administration, governance, development, customisations, integrations and implementation.
It’s also important for technical expertise to extend to Azure, Microsoft 365 and Active Directory. SharePoint consultants need to be able have an up-to-date understanding of what SharePoint can do out of the box and what it can’t do, as this will often determine where development and customisation are required. Always seek assurances and evidence of technical expertise.
2. Business and strategic expertise
A successful SharePoint consultancy not only has the technical chops to deliver advice and projects, but also must have the relative strategic and business understanding of what SharePoint can achieve. They must know how best to deliver a relative SharePoint project and environment.
SharePoint is a highly flexible platform that you can use successfully to deliver a huge range of outcomes. A good SharePoint consultancy has a strategic lens to be able to determine how SharePoint can achieve aims and objectives around digital transformation, process efficiency, productivity, collaboration, employee engagement, knowledge management, internal communications, automation and more. They also need to understand how to make the project a success, with the right adoption and change management approach.
Frequently they will also be involved in user and stakeholder research in order to deliver the right requirements, as well as elements such as design, information architecture and more.
3. An understanding of the different shades of SharePoint
SharePoint has a long history and comes in several different versions covering classic and modern, online and on-premises and so on. Some complex companies may have multiple versions operating at the same time; there are even some businesses that still have customised SharePoint 2007 intranets running!
If you do have multiple versions of SharePoint running, then make sure your consultancy has a solid understanding and experience of all the different versions, especially working with classic SharePoint. This means that some newer SharePoint consultancies who might be a good fit for your modern SharePoint or SharePoint Online project, may be less experienced in working with classic SharePoint.
4. Understanding Azure and the wider Microsoft 365 ecosystem
SharePoint projects are very rarely just about pure SharePoint. They will involve aspects of Azure, Active Directory and the wider Microsoft 365 ecosystem and very likely involve integration with other Microsoft tools. The Power Platform could be involved to determine workflows and even define custom apps.
Increasingly, Microsoft is also pushing users towards a digital workplace experienced through Microsoft Teams, with heavy investment in Microsoft Viva. A good SharePoint consultancy needs to fully understand the wider Microsoft and Azure ecosystem to be able to get the very best out of SharePoint. They also need to be fully up to speed on Microsoft’s roadmap including Microsoft Viva, as knowledge of the direction of travel can potentially impact the detail of a SharePoint implementation.
5. Solid experience in the employee experience space
If your SharePoint project is aimed at employees – for example such as intranet or as part of your digital workplace – then it’s definitely a plus point if a SharePoint consultancy has solid experience of delivering employee-focused projects and advice. Delivering an intranet or digital workplace project is not like building a website or customer-facing solution – there are lots of different nuances including the need to factor in a wider range of stakeholders and user feedback, the need to take into account a longer-term view of the digital workplace, and also aspects of adoption and change management.
When an inexperienced SharePoint consultancy or agency takes on a project and treats it like an external website build then issues will inevitably occur. Make sure your consultancy understands what is it like to deliver in the employee experience space; here case studies and client testimonials can help validate a consultancy’s track record.
6. They are a Microsoft Partner
If you’re using a digital agency, make sure they’re a Microsoft Partner. This will help verify both their expertise and commitment to SharePoint and the wider Microsoft stack.
7. Range of services
SharePoint consultancies can deliver a wide range of services, solutions and advice. You might be looking for general advice, a custom development, the integration of your SharePoint estate, a SharePoint intranet implementation or something else entirely. Consultancies can usually provide what you need, but to a certain extent you can tell what they specialise in or where their strengths lie in the services they offer. Always have a good browse – is what you are after a standard service they describe?
8. People and culture fit
Any consultancy or digital agency needs to be good fit from a people and culture perspective. Always make sure that you meet with the team and also the actual consultants and developers that you are going to be working with. Some larger consultancies still wheel out their best people for the pitch meetings but are then never seen again once the work actually starts. The chemistry you have with your agency is important and needs to be routed in good communication and a spirit of partnership. This will absolutely lead to better outcomes.
Looking for a great SharePoint consultancy? Get in touch!
If you are looking for a strong SharePoint consultancy that ticks all of the boxes that we’ve covered in this article, then we can think of a certain specialist agency. They happen to be a Microsoft Partner and have an unrivalled record within the UK of delivering SharePoint and Microsoft 365 projects and solutions focused on employee experience and the digital workplace…. If you ‘d like to discuss your SharePoint project or needs, then get in touch!